140 Year Old Family Heirloom Retrieved

A very interesting article in The Herald Bulletin, by Melanie D. Hayes, about a genealogist receiving a civil war medal that an ancestor had earned, and that nobody in the family had heard about. His great-great-grandfather was killed in action in Virginia in 1864, and was awarded a medal as a result.

The article mentions that just for West Virginia Civil War soldiers alone, there were over 5,000 medals that went unclaimed. The article notes “The medal stayed in a vault in West Virginia for over a hundred years, probably untouched, until Dyer requested it……“The packaging is as unique as the medal,” Dyer said. “After all these years the box is still intact. And the handwriting — somebody in 1867 wrote that in pencil on those things.””

Excerpt from the article:

Jeff Dyer has always been fascinated with history, especially genealogy — but he never thought he’d come into possession of an undiscovered family heirloom.

In the process of researching his ancestors he found out his great-great grandfather was killed as a soldier in the Civil War — and was awarded a medal that was never claimed.

After several months of paperwork and waiting, Dyer retrieved the 140-year-old medal that was originally meant to go to his great-great-grandmother.

Dyer, 52, an Anderson native, first got drawn into genealogy when his oldest son was born 14 years ago because family became a priority to him. His grandmother was a member of Daughters of the American Revolution, and he also helped his sister become a member as well. Dyer, who is a lab technician for the Purdue University College of Technology in Anderson, began tracing his family history, and some lines went pretty far back.

If you have an ancestor that served, it just goes to show that it’s never too late to claim things like this medal (and that it’s very important to document everything thoroughly).

Leave a Comment