Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sutton’s TWO Medal of Honor Honorees

Sutton, Nebraska is proud to have a connection with two Medal of Honor recipients, Orion P. Howe and Jacob Volz.

Orion Howe was with the 55th Illinois Infantry at Vicksburg in the Civil War. His Medal of Honor citation reads: “A drummer boy, 14 years of age, and severely wounded and exposed to a heavy enemy fire from the enemy, he persistently remained upon the field of battle until he had reported to Gen. W. T. Sherman the necessity of supplying cartridges for the use of troops under command of Colonel Malmborg.”

Howe was born in Ohio and entered service in Illinois. The award was not issued until April, 1896 while he was practicing dentistry in Sutton. You’d be correct if you guessed that he was the youngest of all award winners at the time of the incident that led to the award. You’d also be correct if you thought his story would make a good book, or two. The “Diary of a Drummer Boy” by Marlene Tarq Brill is an imagined diary of Orion Howe. G. Clifton Wisler’s “The Drummer Boy of Vicksburg” is a historical novel based on the life and service of Orion Howe, his father and younger brother, Lyston.

Our other honoree is Jacob Volz, Jr., born June 23, 1889 in Sutton and died in 1965 in Portland, Oregon. He was the son of Jacob and Cornelia Volz of the Germans from Russia migration. His citation reads: “While attached to the U.S.S. Pampang, Volz was one of a shore party moving in to capture Mundang, on the island of Basilan, Philippine Islands, on 24 September 1911. Investigating a group of nipa huts close to the trail, the advance scout party was suddenly taken under point-blank fire and rushed by approximately 20 enemy Moros attacking from inside the huts and other concealed positions. Volz responded instantly to calls for help and, finding all members of the scout party writhing on the ground but still fighting, he blazed his rifle into the outlaws with telling effect, destroying several of the Moros and assisting in the rout of the remainder. By his aggressive charging of the enemy under heavy fire and in the face of great odds, Volz contributed materially to the success of the engagement.”

Clay County can claim a connection with a third Medal of Honor award. Capt. Nelson Holderman, a WWII recipient was born in Trumbull (spelled Trumbell on his citation).


Anonymous said...

i think that old buzzards of sutton try to make themselves more important than they are i love this town. but some people here make me sick especially those so called ""GERMANS"" who are more russian jew than german than ive ever seen

Sutton Historical Society said...

Dear Anonymous,

Two things, no, three.

First, using an "anonymous" handle for such a comment lessens your credibility. Please kindly step forward and be recognized.

Second, a comment such as "...make themselves more important than they are..." could be valid but is a bit awkward on a post about Medal of Honor winners. Someone else made that determination about these two gentlemen's relative importance as regards their military service.

And thirdly, "...so called "GERMANS" who are more russian jew than german..." is a curious comment. I would like a reference for that assertion. Whatever else can be said about the Germans from Russia perhaps the single most distinguishing characteristic of that group is their preservation of their German heritage, language, religion, social customs, culture and cuisine through both migrations from the German city-states to Southern Russia and then to the U.S., Sutton in our frame of reference here. As for the religion of the Germans from Russia as a whole, the four primary religions were Lutheran, Catholic, Reformed and Mennonite. The terms of settlement by Catherine in 1762 and continued into the early nineteenth century allowed the Germans to operate in autonomous villages continuing to speak the German language and practice those religions they'd followed back on Germanic soil. I'm not the most thorough researcher of that group but I'd probably fall into the top 25% or so in terms of time and volume of materials and I've not found any significant group of Jewish immigrants in the group, Russian or otherwise. I'm not even sure I've encountered Jewish families or even individuals. I'd appreciate any further information supporting your assertion about a Jewish connection within the Germans from Russia groups. That would be an interesting subject to follow up on as I'd expect any such Jewish heritage to have originated somewhere within the Germanic city-states rather than in Russia. As I think about your assertion it occurs to me that there may well have been Jewish immigrants from Germany to Southern Russia at that time just based on the eighteenth century demographics of many Germanic principalities and the social conditions any Jewish population may have been living under at the time. It may be a credible assertion, I've just never encountered the evidence you seem to be privy to.