Local Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients

Not so long ago I had occasion to be at the Mina Cemetery. While there I could not help but notice a historical marker announcing that a certain Ebenezer Skellie, a Corporal in Co. D 112 NY Infantry and a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, was buried there. I used to live in Sherman and have been down that road many times but I never noticed that marker before. In all fairness you might not pay much attention when you are going 55 mph. But that visit to the cemetery got me to wondering just how many Medal of Honor recipients are buried in Chautauqua County.

My first inclination was to google it. That led me to which told me that 3536 medals were awarded to 3517 recipients, 62 who are alive today. This site has details of each recipient including the conflict/era, the unit, the military service branch, as well as the date and place where their action earned them the Medal of Honor. There is also the citation itself. Also included are details such as where and when they were born, when they died and where they are buried. The site also mentions the state that the recipient is accredited to. As it turns out a recipient is accredited to the state from which they entered the military service. You can sort by the service branch, the conflict/era, the year of action, the state born in and the state accredited to. There is also a “fill in the blank” area you can sort by. When I fill in “Chautauqua” I get nine names: Henry L. Brown, Edwin Goodrich, John H. Haight, Thomas Horan, William Houlton, Edgar P. Putnam, Ebenezer Skellie, James M. Young and Archie A. Peck.

Great! I think. I’ve got them! When I checked further I find Henri Brown, Edgar Putnam and James Young buried in Lakeview Cemetery. I also find John Haight buried in East Ripley Cemetery, Thomas Horan in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Dunkirk, Archie Peck in Evergreen Cemetery in Sinclairville and Ebenezer Skellie in Mina Cemetery. I also find Edwin Goodrich at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago and William Houlton in Abilene Cemetery in Kansas. That gives me seven Medal of Honor recipients buried in Chautauqua County. But short of searching 3517 names to see where each deceased recipient is buried, how can I be sure I got them all?
Back to the world-wide web I go. This time I search for “Medal of Honor recipients from Chautauqua County” and I get an article from the May 14, 2019 Dunkirk Observer, “Hometown Heroes Veterans Memorial adds Medal of Honor recipients”. This newspaper article about the newly organized Chautauqua Hometown Heroes Veterans Memorial in Mayville names eleven Congressional Medal of Honor recipients from Chautauqua County. They are First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing of Fredonia, Lieutenant General John M. Schofield of Gerry, Second Lieutenant Ebenezer Skellie of Mina, Sergeant William Houlton of Clymer, Sergeant Edgar P. Putnam of Stockton, Private James M. Young of Ellicott, Captain Edwin Goodrich of Westfield, Sergeant John M. Haight of Westfield, Sergeant Thomas Horan of Dunkirk, Sergeant Henri L. Brown of Ellicott and Sergeant Archie Peck of Sinclairville. This gives me the seven I know of buried in Chautauqua County plus the two I know are buried somewhere else as well as two additional names – Alonzo H. Cushing and John M. Schofield.

So back I go again searching for information about Alonzo H. Cushing and John M. Schofield. Lieutenant Cushing was accredited to West Point, Orange County, New York. He was born in Delafield, Waukesha County Wisconsin on 19 Jan 1841. Alonzo’s father died in 1847 and they moved to Fredonia, where his grandfather (his mother’s father) lived. Alonzo Cushing was nominated to the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1856 by Congressman Francis Smith Edwards and matriculated into the Academy on July 1 1857, graduating in June 1861. First Lieutenant Cushing literally stood by his guns on July 3 1863 at Gettysburg, resulting in him being killed. The Medal of Honor was awarded in 2014, and he is buried in the U.S. Military Academy Cemetery at West Point.
General Schofield is accredited to Freeport, Stephenson County Illinois. He was born in Gerry New York. When he was about twelve his father, a Baptist Minister in Sinclairville became a domestic missionary and moved his family to Illinois, eventually settling in Freeport. Major Schofield was awarded the Medal of Honor for his action on August 10 1861 at Wilson’s Creek in Missouri. John M. Schofield had a very distinguished military career ending with the rank of Lieutenant General and serving as Commanding General of the United States Army (1888-1895). General Schofield is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. General Schofield’s name did not pop up in the website when I typed “Chautauqua” as a search criteria because his description said that he was from Chautaugua County, not Chautauqua County. I sent an email regarding this and they had it fixed the next day. First class, they are.
By this point I feel pretty sure that I have found all of the Medal of Honor recipients who are buried in Chautauqua County, and I am just waiting for an appropriate holiday to send this to the Walnut Grove Press for their consideration. And then recently while I was working on my project of straightening out the vertical files I ran across this article, which was printed in the Jamestown Post-Journal on December 12, 1999. The article, “Seven With High Military Honor Buried In County” with information gathered by John Siggins fits nicely with what I have found out. Strangely only six of the names I have ascertained to be buried in the county are listed but at least they agree with each other as far as it goes. The article does not list the seventh veteran buried within Chautauqua County but it does list another two names. One is Captain Peter Grace who at one time lived at 144 Chandler Street in Jamestown. He is buried in Arlington. He was born in Ireland and lived in Tionesta Pennsylvania when he joined the army August 19 1861, enlisting in Erie. He re-enlisted in December 1863 and served for the duration of the war. Sergeant Grace’s actions on May 5 1864 in the Wilderness merited him the Medal of Honor. He is in the city directory in the oil industry from 1879 on thru the 1901-02 directory. Thus he was a resident for 22 years – a lifetime for Alonzo Cushing.
The other name brought up in the article is that of Almond E. Fisher, who according to the article served in Jamestown as commanding officer of Company F, New York National Guard. He was born in Hume in Allegany County New York and received his medal for his actions in France near Grammont on September 12-13, 1944. His rank at the time was Second Lieutenant. A search of city directories shows him to be in Jamestown in 1949 but by 1955 he was in Tonawanda. He died in Ohio and also is buried in Arlington.

The original purpose of this research was to find the gravesites of Medal of Honor recipients in Chautauqua County. And so these are the seven Medal of Honor recipients who I know are buried in Chautauqua County, with their rank at the time:

  1. Sergeant Henri Brown for his action on May 6 1864 in the Wilderness in Virginia.
  2. Sergeant John Haight for his actions which took place August 29 1861 thru August 27 1862 at Williamsburg, Bristol Station and Manassas in Virginia. Several events for John Haight but only one medal.
  3. Sergeant Thomas Horan, having received his medal for his action on July 2 1863 in Gettysburg.
  4. Private Archie Peck received the Medal of Honor for his actions on October 6 1918 in the Argonne Forest of France.
  5. Sergeant Edgar Putnam for his action on May 27 1864 at Crumps Creek Virginia.
  6. Corporal Ebenezer Skellie – who started this quest for me – received his medal for his action on September 29 1864 at Chapin’s Farm in Virginia.
  7. Private James Young for his action May 6 1864, also in the Wilderness.
    If you are curious you can read their citations at The “details” page has some information on these veterans and usually there is a photograph as well.
    I mentioned this article to Barb Cessna because of her involvement in the Vets Finding Vets program. She thought that it would be a good thing to have this sort of information in our vertical files – not just the recipients buried in Chautauqua County but also those with connections to the area. So I invite anyone with information to share to send it to the Fenton History Center at 67 Washington Street, Jamestown NY 14701.

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