First Purple Heart  LbNA # 45385

OwnerLindsays Snowman    
Placed DateJan 23 2009
LocationCincinnati, OH
Found By Eng1206
Last Found Jun 25 2010
Hike Distance?

The First Purple Heart

[I would like to thank a letterboxer for bringing the first purple heart to my attention. It was when she was looking for SnoAngel that a kind man working at the business next to the cemetery, let her know that he has been watching over SnoAngel. He then told her about this cemetery also having the awardee of the first purple heart. This small little cemetery is historically impressive! Look around.]

The first purple heart was awarded to Sergeant William Brown of the 5th Connecticut Regiment of the Connecticut Line on May 3, 1783. At that time this award for valor was called the Badge of Military Merit and was considered the first official military combat badge of the United States Armed Forces. General George Washington awarded Sergeant Brown with the Badge of Military Merit (a cloth patch) for leading a dangerous assault of a kind called “forlorn hope,” because few were expected to survive. The patch presumably was sewn by Martha Washington.

Historians have found that only three people received the Badge of Military Merit during the American Revolution.

William Brown (1759-1808) moved to Cincinnati, Ohio after the war. His original tombstone cannot be found but apparently was in the Fulton-Presbyterian Cemetery, which is near the Pioneer Memorial Cemetery (but not accessible). On July 24, 2004 a new tombstone was laid out in remembrance of Sgt. Brown in the Pioneer Cemetery.

The actual Badge of Military Merit that was awarded to Sgt. Brown was discovered in a barn in Deerfield, New Hampshire in the 1920s. It is now displayed at the American Independence Museum in Exeter, New Hampshire.

The Purple Heart was authorized in 1932 and replaced the Badge of Military Merit.


Pioneer’s Cemetery is located across from Air 10 Executive Terminal at Lunken Airport on the eastside of Cincinnati (off of Columbia Parkway-Highway 50). There is a parking lot next to the cemetery. Park Hours are 6 am – 10 pm.

Note the Ohio Historical sign indicating the site of Columbia, the first settlement in Hamilton County. It is also noted that Benjamin Stites and 26 men and women from New Jersey founded the town of Columbia on November 18, 1788. On the other side of the historical sign it is also noted that this was the site of the Columbia Baptist Cemetery in 1792.

Nearby, right before going up hill you will find the marker in memory of William Brown (see picture). After honoring him, walk NE (to the right) toward the fence line, passing a large cypress type tree. You should see near the fence line two large trees growing very near each other. Go there and find the large headstone memorializing Rosan Amann, Wife of J. G. Dister. Go to the backside of this marker and find two broken headstone pieces tucked into a nook at the bottom of the tree. The First Purple Heart is located here.

Please cover it such that the letterbox cannot be seen and is protected from the elements.

SnoAngel is nearby; it might be worth trying to find her.