Who are Williams, Paulding & Van Wert – Bryan
Williams, Paulding and Van Wert Counties in Northwest Ohio were named after three privates in the New York Militia who stood sentry duty on September 22, 1780. For their service they were awarded the Fidelity Medallion.
The Fidelity Medallion is the oldest decoration of the United States military and was created by act of the Continental Congress in 1780. Also known as the “André Capture Medal”, the Fidelity Medallion was awarded to those soldiers who participated in the capture of Major John André, of the British army, who had been the contact to Benedict Arnold and had helped organize his defection.
Historical records indicate that three soldiers were awarded the Fidelity Medallion after its first issuance, all from the New York State Militia. The names of the soldiers were Private John Paulding, Private David Williams, and Private Isaac Van Wart.
On the face of the medallion was the inscription “Fidelity” , and on the reverse was the motto “Amor Patriae Vincit,” which means: “The love of country conquers.”
The Fidelity Medallion was never again bestowed.
Counties and city streets across New England and the Northwest Territory states honor the contribution of these three enlisted men who did their duty.
Van Wert’s medal was lost at the time of his death in 1828. William’s and Paulding’s medals were passed down to family members who donated them in 1905 to the New York Historical Society. The Society photographed the medals and placed them on display in a glass case in their New York City site. Sometime in 1975 the medals and Major Andre’s pocket watch were lifted from that case and have not yet been recovered. The theft came to light in 2009 when a great-granddaughter of David Williams, who was doing family genealogy, asked to see her patriot’s medal.
As they say – now you know the rest of the story.