Joshua Byron Hartzog MOH

b. 03/02/1866 Paulding County, Ohio. d. 27/05/1939 Beebe, Arkansas.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 29/12/1890 Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

Joshua B Hartzog MOH

Joshua Byron Hartzog was born February 3, 1866 in Washington Township, Paulding Co., Ohio, the son of Joshua and Sarah Jane (Blythe) Hartzog.  His father Joshua was born January 19, 1830 in Schuylkill Co., Pennsylvania, and married Sarah Jane Blythe, 21, of Latty in Paulding County on May 15, 1865.  Joshua and Sarah Jane, who are buried in Middle Creek Cemetery, Grover Hill, Ohio, lived long enough to see young Joshua distinguish himself in the famous Battle of Wounded Knee, but died before he sank roots in Arkansas.

Joshua Byron Hartzog was a Private serving in Company E, 1st U.S. Artillery.  His commanding officer had fallen severely wounded, on the battle field and Joshua picked him up, and carried him out of range of the Indian guns.  The following is from official records in the National Archives.

            On the morning of December 29, 1890, the Sioux chief Big Foot and some 350 of his followers camped on the banks of Wounded Knee creek, a tributary of the White River.  Surrounding their camp was a force of U.S. troops charged with the responsibility of arresting Big Foot and disarming his warriors.  In a frantic attempt to return to their glory days, many Sioux sought deliverance in a new mysticism preached by a Paiute shaman called Wovoka, and fought fiercely believing that their “Ghost Shirts” would protect them from the bluecoats’ bullets.  In the savage battle twenty-four soldiers distinguished themselves to the degree that they were awarded the Medal of Honor.  When his commanding officer was wounded, Private Joshua Hartzog braved the heavy fire of the enemy to rush to his side, pick him up, and then carried the wounded officer out of range of the hostile guns.

This is an actual eye-witness account:

            “All of the Indians opened fire on us.  One of my men went for ammunition and didn’t come back–My captain called to me to come back, but I kept moving nearer the Indians, and kept shooting.  Lieutenant Hawthorne came toward me and was calling, when suddenly I heard him say: ‘Oh my God!’ Looking around, I saw him lying on his side, and then I knew he had been hit.  Hartzog ran to him and carried him back behind the hill.

For this heroic act, Hartzog was presented the Medal of Honor on March 24, 1891.

After serving as a member of the World’s Fair Exposition police force at Chicago, Joshua Byron Hartzog returned to Ohio and was married, July 25, 1894 at Grover Hill, Ohio, to Elvina Elizabeth Gensel, the daughter of James H. Gensel, and Mary S. (Akerman) Gensel.  James was born January 2, 1837, in Carbon County, Pennsylvania, and Mary was born May 4, 1849, in Lafayette, Ohio.  They were married July 25, 1869.  James died August 14, 1920 in Flint, Michigan and Mary died September 10, 1934 at Swartz Creek, Michigan.

Joshua and Elvina Elizabeth soon moved to Alabama but the year is not known.  They were living at Florence when their daughter, Lettie Navada Hartzog was born on December 4, 1898.    Elvina Elizabeth,  who was born November 20, 1874 at Grover Hill, died September 24, 1916, at Higginson in White County, Arkansas.  How and why this Medal of Honor winner came to this small railroad town is not known.

Apparently, he continued to live here, and two years after the death of his first wife, he married Gertrude Thurman of White County on June 01, 1918.  She was 48 years old and he was 52.  The marriage apparently did not last, and five years later Hartzog married his third wife, Madie Belle McClellen of White County, on January 18, 1923.

Joshua and Gertrude had one child, a daughter.  Gertrude died at 67 in 1937 and was buried in Old Dogwood Cemetery at Griffithville.  A Civil War veteran, D. T. Thurmond, is also buried in this cemetery.  After researching these families, I think he may have been Gertrude’s father.  D. T. was born August 8, 1835, and served in Company F, 14th Tennessee Cavalry, CSA.  He died February 4, 1905, and was married to Nancy E. Thurman, who was born July 22, 1837, and died December 14, 1899.  She is also buried in the Old Dogwood Cemetery, and I believe she is Gertrude’s mother.

Joshua Byron Hartzog’s third wife, Madie Belle, was born December 10, 1884, in White County.  She died April 27, 1977–38 years after his death–and was buried in Gum Springs Cemetery.



Went to the rescue of the commanding officer who had fallen severely wounded, picked him up, and carried him out of range of the hostile guns.