The last two blogs in this space brought you part of this story. A fellow from Nova Scotia by the above name moved off to the US pre Civil War days, and signed up when the war began. Gunshot wounds saw him in and out of hospitals and doing service in three different army outfits. In the third, he was selected to serve as one of the 29 honor guards of the remains of President Lincoln during the escort from DC after the assassination to his final resting place in Springfield. For this incredible honor John was awarded the Medal off Honor as where the other 28.
But in 1917 the government decided to take back the medals... illegally,.. with hundreds of others in the purge, a matter well documented in this space over the past 4 years.
All that aside, for years the whereabouts of John's grave has been a mystery to family and anyone else interested in the case. Recently, with the incredible help of a researcher based in the DC area and a great supporter of this blog, John's pension file was located and within that, both his and his wife Sarah's graves were identified as being in Pottsville Pa, where both had lived from pre CW days until his 1891 death.
File documents talk about how well he was liked in Pottsville and, from the image here, he looks like he was a most dignified member of the community.
This card gave the application number, and the subsequent granting certificate number for pensions, for both John, and after death, for his wife Julia.
It was from these numbers supplied to my friend in DC, that a trip to the national archives and a search produced the widow's files and lots of info about John's service, widow's pension, their deaths and burial.
Sounds simple... but then comes along an extra piece in the puzzle. Here it is....
The Pottsville cemetery feels that it is this Hanna, born in Philladelphia, rather than the Canadian Hanna that is buried at their cemetery. As does web site called www.pennsylvaniagravesites.org.
Here are the grave markers at Pottsville...
Back in 1880 a Pottsville Pa. census lists John and Julia Hanna. The document claims he was born in "Mass" as where his mother and father. I suggest that it may have been a little easier for the person taking the information down, to add in MASS, rather than Musquodoboit, Nova Scotia, as supported by various NS Genealogical record.
Pre the Civil War John had moved to the US. It is known that 2 brothers either went with him or came earlier or later. One served in the navy and the other also in the army during that war. There are a number of family connections in the Norfolk area, and thus, if he wrote down he was from "Mass", that might be part of the reason.
Moving on, here is an obit found for one of the John's the very day the Canadian John died back in 1891. It was sent to me by one of a group in the US who are now trying to help get to the bottom of this puzzle.
It also notes a birth... over 50 years after the fact, that he was born in the Norfolk area, as stated re the census details of 1880, and also above commented on.
I think from all that I have mentioned so far, you can see that there are a few pieces of the puzzle that ought to be discarded. So now its time to look at some more smoking guns.
I showed you the American born Hanna's pension index card for a reason. Once it was found I also asked my DC friend to have a look for the Yank's file, and soon is was located and portions sent to me.
Here's a bigger smoking gun...
And perhaps the biggest smoking gun is the one I saved for last. I have spoken to a descendant of the Hanna who was born in Canada. I am told that as a youth that individual was handed the actual Medal of Honor by that person's grandmother. Curious! If not the family, how did the family get the medal.
I anxiously await being sent some images of the medal. I hope to to here from the cemetery at Pottsville, the group from the US looking into this matter, and the website with the incorrect info with regards to what steps will be taken to correct this story so that the family, and the public, including descendants on both sides of the border can see history corrected and shared heritage preserved.
See you next week with yet another MOH mystery being worked on and partly resolved.