By Pat Caldwell
Only a few strands of fact trail behind Nicholas Maher.
He was born in Ohio in 1845 and died in Boise in 1916.
His remains rest in the Jordan Valley cemetery.
We don’t know much about his family or the man or how he died.
And there are no readily available answers to why he ended up buried in Jordan Valley.
We do know, though, one thing about Maher. In October 1869 during a fierce firefight with Apache Indians in Arizona, Maher’s actions earned him the nation’s highest award for heroism – the Medal of Honor.
The battle, which pitted elements of the 1st U.S. Cavalry Regiment against the renowned Apache war chief, Cochise, occurred in the Chiricahua Mountains in southern Arizona. The battle proved to be inconclusive but two cavalrymen were killed.
There isn’t much information on what, exactly, Cpl. Maher did to gain the nation’s highest military honor but in 1870 he was presented the Medal of Honor for his deeds.
Maher is one of 26 recipients of the nation’s highest military honor connected to Oregon that are recognized as part of the Oregon Medal of Honor Highway program.
Last year the Legislature designated U.S. Highway 20 – from Newport on the coast to Nyssa in Malheur County – as a Medal of Honor Highway.
“It is kind of a first in terms of being border to border,” said Dick Tobiason, chairman of the Bend Heroes Foundation.
Tobiason was scheduled Tuesday night to give a short dedication presentation before the Nyssa City Council. The ceremony proclaimed Nyssa to the “eastern terminus of the Oregon Medal of Honor Highway.”
During the presentation, an Oregon Medal of Honor Highway sign was to be unveiled.
“I think it is a pretty big deal. Not every city is going to get this and we feel pretty fortunate,” said Jim Maret, Nyssa city manager.
Two other Medal of Honor Highway signs were to be installed this week east of Vale. One will be placed near the Malheur Butte viewpoint and the second will be installed at the state weight station.
After Maher reached the rank of sergeant, he disappeared from the historical record.
He died at a Boise veterans home in 1916. Tobiason said a man who befriended Maher took his body to Jordan Valley to be buried. Tobiason said the friend’s identity remains unknown.