Walter A. Stevens and His Lost Medal

Written By: nppladmin - Aug• 27•21
Originally published to on August 13, 2021.

If you liked the “History Detectives” television program that aired on PBS a few years ago, then you will really enjoy today’s North Platte History! Read on…

Several years ago, a medal was uncovered from a residential yard here in North Platte. The man who uncovered it, was a hobbyist metal detector and loved searching for buried treasures. <see photograph of medal>

Inscribed on the medal was “Walter A. Stevens, 1st Lt. No. 589.” Around that inscription, the medal reads: “Santiago Campaign June 14-July 17.” And the lettering on the front reads: “Society of The Army of Santiago 1898.” That year, plus the inscription “Army of Santiago” tracks that medal to the Spanish-American War.

The man who found the medal tried to find a descendent of Walter A. Stevens, but wasn’t successful in his search. Before he passed away he asked his daughter to see if she could find anyone who knew something about Stevens. The daughter, who was a patron of the North Platte Public Library, thought, “I bet the library could help!” So, she brought the medal in and asked for our assistance in tracking down some descendants. Library staff members Kaycee Anderson and Sara Aden found a good deal of information about Stevens, but couldn’t track down any living relatives. So, Anderson posted a message on, specifically on the message board for the Spanish American War. Rootsweb is a genealogical online resource and we hoped that somebody would see our message about Walter Stevens. Months passed and nothing. No response. From anybody.

Approximately 16 months later, Anderson opened up her email and BAM! She received an email stating that someone had responded to her message about Stevens on Opening up that message gave them all the information they had been looking for, not to mention bringing life back to that unsolved history mystery! Not only did they learn about Steven’s family history; but that he had a granddaughter who shared several photographs of medals he won during the war, as well as a lot of personal information about his life.

Walter A. Stevens was a first sergeant in Company C, 22nd Infantry Regiment from 1898 to 1899. They traveled from Fort Crook, Nebraska (near Omaha/now a part of Offutt Air Force Base) to San Francisco, California, on January 27, 1898. Then to the Philippines, according to records from the National Archives army records, and a genealogical web site. Stevens saw serious action with the 22nd Regiment during the Spanish-American war. His regiment was the first American troops to land in Cuba, according to an account on The men struggled against artillery fire, snipers, heat, disease and lack of food; as they fought its way into Santiago, Cuba. Supply blunders left the soldiers in their winter uniforms for the training in Florida and during their campaign in Cuba. Summer uniforms were finally issued as they boarded their ship for Montauk Point, New York, in August. Out of the 513 officers and men who left Camp Crook, some four months earlier, only 165 returned home.

The records from the archives stated that Stevens enlisted in the United States Army on December 9, 1896, he was 22 years old. Stevens served 3 years and was discharged on Dec. 20, 1899. His character was rated as “Excellent.” It also stated he was born in London, England.

Stevens volunteered again when America entered World War I. He was commissioned a second lieutenant and later advanced to first lieutenant. He was discharged Sept. 30, 1919 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Stevens passed away in 1950 and is buried at Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

So what does this have to do with North Platte and how on earth did this medal get buried in a residential yard? No one knows.

Stevens’ granddaughter said she doesn’t think Walter was ever in Nebraska; except for the time they left Fort Crook heading for San Francisco. Chances are pretty good that the train came through North Platte. Even if it did and the train stopped, it would have been before Stevens fought in the battle of Santiago, before he was awarded the medal. So we still have a little mystery on our hands, but I think that our research trail has now run dry.

Thank you for reading and we’ll see you next Friday for more North Platte history!

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.