The original gravestone of Medal of Honor recipient Moses Hanscom in Oak Hill Cemetery in Auburn. Hanscom’s surname is misspelled on the marker.

AUBURN — His gravestone in Oak Hill Cemetery says he was a Medal of Honor recipient during the Civil War, but Moses C. Hanscom’s surname is misspelled on his government-issued veteran’s marker.

The city of Auburn plans to correct that.

Having received a replacement stone, the city is planning a ceremony this fall to honor its only Medal of Honor recipient.

“It’s important,” said Liz Allen, the communication and compliance manager for the Auburn Police Department, who is leading the effort to replace the stone. “We want to do it justice. We want to do it right.”

Born in Danville, Hanscom was a corporal in Company F of the 19th Maine Infantry. During the battle of Briscoe Station, Va., Hanscom received his medal for capturing the flag of the 26th North Carolina regiment on Oct. 14, 1863.

After the war, he attended Newton Theological Institution in Massachusetts, but died at age 30 in 1873. He is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Auburn.


But his last name is spelled “Hansom” on his gravestone.

City Councilor Leroy Walker, the former superintendent of the Auburn Parks Department, said one of his park department employees discovered the error several years ago. Walker, who was about to retire, contacted the federal government to request a replacement marker.

It arrived after Walker left and remained in the corner of the park’s garage in Pettengill Park until it was discovered a few weeks ago.

While no date has been set to celebrate Hanscom’s heroic service during the Battle of Briscoe Station and to unveil the new gravestone, Allen is considering Oct. 14, the 154th anniversary of Hanscom’s daring capture of the North Carolina regiment’s colors during heavy fighting.

In addition to contacting Sen. Angus King’s office about attending the ceremony, Allen is working diligently to find any of Hanscom’s descendants, hoping some still live in the area. She has located a niece living in California but is uncertain whether she will attend the ceremony. 

“In 2000, they visited the grave and noticed the misspelling, but they did nothing about it,” Allen said.

Hanscom’s medal is on display at the Maine State Museum in Augusta.

One other Medal of Honor recipient is buried in the Twin Cities. Thomas McMahon of Lewiston was awarded his medal for valor during the Vietnam War. He is buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery. McMahon Elementary School is named in his honor.

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The new gravestone for Moses Hanscom will replace his marker with his surname misspelled in Auburn’s Oak Hill Cemetery.

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