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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release June 3, 2009

Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

SHSI seeks help to confirm Medal of Honor recipient’s burial site

John Keenan’s final resting place may be in Mitchell County

(DES MOINES) – The State Historical Society of Iowa is seeking information to confirm the burial site of a Medal of Honor recipient in Iowa.

John Keenan, an Irish immigrant who was probably born in the 1840s and died March 18, 1906, is believed to be buried in the McIntire City Cemetery or in St. Patrick’s Cemetery near McIntire in Mitchell County.

“We have been able to trace his movements to Minnesota and Iowa, but we have not been able to determine where he is buried,” State Historical Museum Curator Bill Johnson said. “We are encouraging the public to contact us with any information they have about him so we can confirm the final resting place of a national hero.”

Keenan served with the 38th Ohio Infantry Regiment in the Civil War. He was discharged following the war, but re-enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1866 in San Francisco and served during the “Indian Wars” until 1871. While assigned to Fort Stanton, N.M., to recover from a war wound, he suffered an eye injury that left him nearly blind.

Keenan received the Medal of Honor in 1869 for his actions in New Mexico against the Hualapai Apache, which were also known as the Pais.

The Pais resented the incursion of American settlers, ranchers and miners into the Arizona Territory – the Pais’ ancestral land. In response, the Pais struck with quick raids along transportation routes.

Keenan’s cavalry unit, among others, set out to defeat the Pais. The outnumbered and out-armed Pais held out for two years, but the persistent efforts of Keenan’s unit significantly helped in keeping the territory open to settlement.

Johnson can be reached at 515-281-5627 or bill.johnson@iowa.gov. More information about Medal of Honor recipients can be found at www.iowahistory.org.


The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and is a trustee of Iowa's historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa's past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa's historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. Visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.


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