At several events open to the public the recipients tell of their stories. They also tell of the importance of remembering those who fought and those who gave their lives after they accepted the call of duty.
The blog also gave notice that we need to reflect on our own history here in Canada tomorrow on the 100th anniversary of the brave boys and men that climbed out of their trenches at Ridge at Vimy. The famous battle has been noted in this space many times over the past few years.
Both above stories were supposed to be a lead into a third..but ended up being the stories themselves.
So today I want to introduce you to Sam. You probably have never heard of Sam. In literally thousands of internet searches over the years, I too had never heard of him till a fellow member of the Medal of Honor Historical Society of the US wrote to tell me that while doing a specific search he came across Sam. And he knew that I and my audience needed to hear about him. So a big thanks to Ray.
Had I actually had Sam's name a search would have been quite productive. But using other key words in my list does nothing on this case. And you don't just type in Bob Dick and Harry and hope to get a hit.
So who is Sam? Well, according to several different enlistment documents and many sites, he was born in one of several places.He also enjoyed two different birthdays to boot.
But then these two issues were immediately sorted out by Melanie, a fellow member and friend at the Victoria Genealogy Society. When she sets her sites on a search, lookout, and get ready to take notes... lots of them.
Within very short order she got the proof I failed to find to prove that Sam was not born in the United States despite repeated claims over many years that he was. And in all of these normal resources, his birth was simply limited to the year 1834. Then I found one buried in about 50 pages of files that he claimed birth on July 21st.
In several places of the net you can find lists of Canadian Medal of Honor men. I have yet to find one that is accurate. Most miss quite a few. Many include misinformation in the listing of individuals. Some who ought not to be on the list unless some justification is given. And this week Sam was entered into my list of over 100, double what it was when I started this project over 15 years ago.
But back to Sam... here is one of many...many pages of info Melanie tracked down for me... and you.
Yet Sam declared on numerous enlistment docs, pension docs and elsewhere that he was born in the United States at or near the Buffalo area of New York.
During Civil War days it was illegal for a non American to enlist. While he joined before the war started, it may have been illegal even then, and thus he probably faked the papers to get in.
Sam's parents came over from Ireland as a couple, but had not married back home possibly because of family complications. Soon a family started to grow and the couple took their vows and had yet more children in Quebec. There were at least 6 kids, Sam being the youngest of the boys. They lived on a farm that boasted over 100 acres in 1831, with about 20 under cultivation with oats, rye, and of course potatoes and a few farm animals. They were about a mile away from a school. Sam's father married a 2nd time in the early 1840's and soon 2 more children joined the den.
As the kids got older they moved along, some went into the state of New York, others in and around Montreal were Sam was living in the early 1850's.
By 1856 Sam had grown sea legs that would see him serve at least five separate enlistments with the United States Navy, with some minor broken service a few times, but the enlistments spreading across some 27 years. And if that was not enough, he'd then find another job for a decade at the water's edge after his sailing days were over.
It appears that in the mid 1850's Sam 's navy job was in the supply trade. Some say he was at it as early as 1856, others say 1858. More work is needed on this. But one of the vessels mention was a supply ship with a name, if you can imagine this... "USS Supply." How creative!
There is some interesting writings found on the net about it being involved in the middle east and in the transport of camels.
The Secretary of War of the day was a fellow named Jeff Davis who you might recall played a lead role in the Civil War a few years later. His commander on the ship was a fellow named Dave Dixon, David D of course, one of the famous Admirals of the 1860's, but a lonely Lieutenant in the late 1850's.
Davis was interested in seeing if camels had a role to play with the military and so he sent the ship off to the Mediterranean to bring a handful home and use on lands gained after the Mexican-American war came to an end. Porter made two such ventures and Sam may well have been involved in this venture.
He was probably still on-board when the USS Supply was sent off to Paraguay on a diplomatic mission to settle some differences the US had with that country. .
It is interesting to note that while Sam is believed to have served on the Paraguay mission, another Quebecor also did so. It could have been about 6 or 7 years later though. His name was Martin Thomas McMahon and he came from a place about 75 km away from Rawdon to boot. McMahon served there as the Minister of State for the entire United States. Parts of his story have appeared often in these blogs.
Sam's camel riding days soon came to an end and his humanitarian ones where about to begin.
But more on this on Sunday!