Forgotten Irish Medal of Honor winner finally acknowledged by US
Ceremony for Civil War hero Martin McHugh last month for Memorial Day
Action Date: May 27, 1863
Division: U.S.S. Cincinnati"
Long told the local Danville Commercial News that she was first tipped off when Ray Johnston, a member of a Medal of Honor research group, called looking for any information on McHugh.
Long, a 16-year employee of the Department of Records in Danville, immediately began the research. She found various versions of his name and traced his ancestors and his descendants.
“I could have given up when I couldn’t locate a record of his burial,” she said. “But I felt driven to dig deeper.”
She had the support of her boss Vermilion County Clerk Lynn Foster, to discover all she could.
“I felt that since Martin McHugh had apparently gone well beyond his duty in serving our country, that we should take those extra steps necessary to find and honor him,” Foster said.
Long’s search began to preoccupy her and she often found herself tramping through local cemeteries looking for McHugh’s grave, Long said.
“I’d find myself turning on the computer at home and looking for that one little morsel of information that could help me prove where he was buried, or find out one more little bit about him.”
She finally came across his obituary in the Feb. 25, 1905, 'Daily Democrat' newspaper.
That led to documents listing McHugh, and his wife as buried at the former St. Patrick’s, now Resurrection Cemetery. Part of the confusion was that he was sometimes listed as McCue.
Last year , the government agreed to provide a gravestone for the Irish Civil War hero and his wife Catherine, who was buried beside him.
He continued to serve until the war was over, and then settled in Danville.
From his obituary it turned out that he had erroneously been reported in 1890 as having died of heart disease and had to show his neighbors and friends that he was still alive by walking “up and down the principal streets” to prove he was alive.
Long says her quest is not over and she is still seeking other descendants.
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