Moses Orr MOH

b. 1840 C0unty Tyrone, Ireland. d. 10/05/1897 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 1872-1873 Apache Campaigns.

Moses Orr MOH

Moses was born in Northern Ireland in what was County Tyrone, and came to America May 5, 1851 at age 11. According to his death records, however, his year of birth was 1836. He arrived in Philadelphia with parents James and Isabella and three siblings. Naturalization papers indicate he became a citizen in 1858 as he was beginning his working career as a tailor. When it appeared the division between the North and South would not soon heal, Moses joined the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry in September, 1861 for three years.

City directories indicate Moses then returned to civilian life in South Philadelphia for about  two years. No occupation was listed, and perhaps he missed the experience of riding horses, so those may be two reasons why, beginning March 3, 1866, the US Cavalry employed him for the next 8 years. He served in Companies A and I, where he was awarded a Medal of Honor “for gallant conduct during campaigns and engagements with Apaches, in the Arizona Territory during the winter of 1872 to 1873.” He left the Army in 1874, applied for a disability pension later that year, and received his medal on April 12, 1875.

Following his discharge Moses joined the Philadelphia Police Department, where he spent the next 22 years. Perhaps some of it was on horseback. He married Ellen Jane Hunt in 1888 and they made their home in the Point Breeze section of the city for just a few years. Ellen died of cancer in 1891 at age 46. He gave her a loving tribute on her gravestone at Mount Moriah.

The next year Moses married a woman more than a dozen years younger than him named Fannie Tees. Their relationship was extremely volatile, fuelled by her addiction to alcohol and his mental instability. It culminated in him shooting her on April 25, 1896. She recovered but didnt file charges, and he was dismissed from the Police Force.

Their domestic troubles did not stop there. A year later, Moses stabbed his wife to death, and a week later, on May 10, 1897, he hanged himself in his cell. His niece stated in a newspaper interview that this was actually his third marriage, the first ending after three months. Commenting on his mental state, she said a man he tried to arrest ten years earlier hit him on the head and Moses was hospitalized. “After that he acted queerly,” she said. “Five years ago his second wife died and he carried on so that we were afraid he would shoot himself over her grave. From that time on he acted more peculiarly than before.”

The reporter concluded he had “a long and honorable record as a soldier and policeman, followed by a year of dishonor.” His burial with his first wife was arranged by his nephew, Charles Orr. Fannie’s funeral was handled by her sister, and she had her buried in the same plot as Moses.



Gallant conduct during campaigns and engagements with Apaches.