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Descendants of Civil War veteran seek display of artifacts at VA clinic

  • Wilson-W-Brown-Union-army-sergeant-died-in-East-Toledo

    Wilson W. Brown, a Union army sergeant, died in East Toledo in 1916 was buried in Wood County.

  • Congressional-Medal-of-Honor-key-to-Confederate-prison

    Two Congressional Medals of Honor and the key to a Confederate prison are among the items that have been at the center of a dispute among descendants of Sgt. Wilson W. Brown, who took part in Andrews’ Raid in the Civil War.

    The Blade/Andy Morrison
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Congressional-Medal-of-Honor-key-to-Confederate-prison

Two Congressional Medals of Honor and the key to a Confederate prison are among the items that have been at the center of a dispute among descendants of Sgt. Wilson W. Brown, who took part in Andrews’ Raid in the Civil War.

The Blade/Andy Morrison
Enlarge | Buy This Image

BOWLING GREEN — Descendants of Sgt. Wilson W. Brown, a Civil War veteran who took part in Andrews’ Raid, plan to talk with the Veterans Administration about displaying his Congressional Medals of Honor and other artifacts at the new VA clinic in South Toledo.

Such a display could help resolve a dispute within the family about who possesses the two medals and the key to a Confederate prison from which Sergeant Brown escaped after the failed raid.

Albert Ward of Timberlake, Ohio, a third-generation descendant of Sergeant Brown, filed suit in Wood County Common Pleas Court in January seeking possession of the artifacts. In recent years, the memorabilia have been in the possession of Linda Schwartz of Perrysburg, a fourth-generation descendant of Sergeant Brown.

Mr. Ward claimed he has a superior right of possession, that Ms. Schwartz had refused to share the artifacts with the family, and that the majority of family members wanted the items to be displayed and enjoyed by the public at an appropriate museum.

Common Pleas Judge Alan Mayberry ordered the case to go to mediation, and the two sides met for nearly three hours Wednesday afternoon with court mediator Michael Hyrne.

“I thought it went real well,” said Harold Hanna, a Bowling Green lawyer who represents Mr. Ward and other descendants of Sergeant Brown. “We had a very thoughtful and thorough exchange of ideas.”

Wilson-W-Brown-Union-army-sergeant-died-in-East-Toledo

Wilson W. Brown, a Union army sergeant, died in East Toledo in 1916 was buried in Wood County.

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He said the two sides agreed to talk with representatives of the VA clinic to see whether the medals could be displayed in an area where the agency plans to honor veterans.

He said family members had spoken with various museums but had concerns about their long-term viability. They said they felt the VA clinic could provide a permanent home for the medals and would enable a large number of veterans to see them.

Sergeant Brown, a locomotive engineer and member of the 21st Ohio Infantry Regiment, was among the first U.S. soldiers to receive a Congressional Medal of Honor for his part in the 1862 raid. He received a second one after the medal was redesigned in 1904. Sergeant Brown died in East Toledo in 1916 and was buried in Wood County.

In the raid, volunteers from the Union Army, led by civilian scout James J. Andrews, commandeered a train and took it north toward Chattanooga, Tenn., doing as much damage as possible to the vital railroad link from Atlanta to Chattanooga. The raiders were captured and imprisoned.

Mr. Hanna said the tentative agreement does not settle the case but “puts us on the path to determine if we have a full resolution.”

Brian Ballenger, an attorney for Ms. Schwartz, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

A two-story VA clinic is under construction at 1200 S. Detroit Ave., scheduled to be completed this fall.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.

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