LEWISTON – He earned it – with service aboard the Union Army’s iron-clad ship the USS Carondelet.
But Lockport resident Michael Huskey was never awarded his Medal of Honor.
When he died, perhaps of disease, in an army hospital, he was buried without his honor – and without much of a marker.
The reasons for all this – and the rest of Huskey’s remarkable story – will be detailed by Niagara County Historian Catherine L. Emerson in a talk this week in the county.
“This is an incredible story,” said Emerson, “and we don’t want this poor young sailor forgotten.”
Emerson is one of those interested in drawing attention to Michael Huskey’s valiant, if short, life – and working to get him the recognition he earned.
She will present a lecture called “Michael Huskey, the Unforgotten Sailor” at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Barton Hill Hotel, 100 Center St. The public is invited to this free event, organizers said.
The Irish-born Huskey was approved for our nation’s highest military honor for valor in a Civil War battle in Mississippi in 1863.
But he died the following year in a Memphis hospital, without receiving his Medal of Honor.
Huskey is one of 14 Niagara County residents to earn the Medal of Honor, but the only local man who never received the medal and a grave marker. He earned his medal as a sailor aboard the USS Carondelet.
While Huskey’s family continued to live in Niagara County following his death, it did not receive the medal in his honor, either.
“His family probably didn’t know about it,” said Emerson. “They were poor, they had come over from Ireland when Michael was about 6 and settled in Lockport. He joined the Navy and was on ... the Carondelet, which saw more action than any other ship until World War II.
“He died of probably malaria or typhus in the hospital and is in one of the unmarked graves in the Memphis National Cemetery,” Emerson said.
Emerson pointed out that Monday is National Medal of Honor Day.
Her office has not found any direct Huskey descendants left in this area but did find a niece, many generations removed, in Schoharie County, who has not lent her cooperation in the pursuit of the medal.
“We don’t care if she would like the medal or we would get the medal to display in the Niagara County Courthouse, but we would like to see a marker on his grave and one for St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Lockport, where Michael’s parents are buried,” Emerson said.
“This would be especially nice with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War going on now,” she said.
The pursuit of this deserved recognition is one of many endeavors of the county historian’s office, which “advocates not only for the preservation of sites of architectural significance….but also for the preservation of objects and artifacts that constitute a community’s material culture,” according to its guidelines.
Monday’s event is sponsored by the Historical Association of Lewiston.