The following story was submitted by William A. Greene, of Andover NY.  2007

Obituary believed to be from Wellsville Daily Reporter; Wellsville,NY




          Although Mr. Hayes passed away over 65 years ago his story lives on.  I will start this story with the obituary of Mr. Hayes.






Jan. 6, 1938: Sgt. Maj. Charles J. Hayes retired United States Marine Corps. Officer, of 100 South Highland Avenue died in Jones Memorial hospital at 3:20 P.M. Thursday of injuries suffered in a fall and complications. He was 59 years old.        

Sgt. Major Hayes had retired from the Marine Corps in 1930 following over 30 years of service and had since made his home here. During his long service career, he visited every major seaport of China and during World War I, saw service in and around Paris, France.        

Chest injuries suffered in the fall Wednesday caused complications resulting in his death.        

Sgt. Major Hayes was a native of St. Mary’s Pa. born December 23, 1878 a son of Michael and Margaret Gormam Hayes. He had maintained his residence in Wellsville for 45 years, although his service took him to distant lands.        

He leaves four sisters: Mrs. Nellie Moffatt of Buffalo, Miss Margaret Hayes of Mount Vernon, N.Y., Mrs. Anna Campbell of Wellsville and Mrs. Josephine Stout of Wellsville and one brother, Edmond Hayes of Wellsville.        

Sgt. Major Hayes was a member of Immaculate Conception church of the Holy Name Society, the American Legion, the Wellsville Elks lodge and the Wellsville Moose club.

Services will be held Monday. There will be a prayer service in the Campbell home on 100 South Highland Avenue at 9 A.M. and final rites in Immaculate Conception church at 9:30 o’clock, the Rev. P.C. Tracy officiating. Burial will be in Sacred Heart Cemetery.


Sgt. Major Hayes

For those of you that have never been in the service, a Sgt. Major is the highest rank that an enlisted person can obtain.  Very many people don’t obtain this rank.

This is where our story ends for over 60 years.

Then on January 24, 2004, Robert C. Hayes pass’s away. Robert was the son of Edmond, Charles’s brother.  In the articles that Robert left behind was an old cigar box and in the old cigar box, Charles memory would come back to life, after all of those years.

It was on a Sunday a short while after Roberts’s death when I got a knock on my door.  It was Pat O’Donnell my neighbor and in his hand was an old cigar box. 


I invited him in but he said he was busy.  He said that he had gotten this old cigar box from the items left by Robert Hayes.  He knew I had done a lot of research on veterans and wanted to know if I could help him find info about the person belonging to the items in the old cigar box.  So I opened the old box and it was full of old military ribbons and medals.  I asked if he knew the person’s name that belonged to these items and he said that he didn’t know for sure, but he thought his name was Charles Hayes, but he wasn’t sure. After a little more conversing, Pat left me the old box and off he went. 

Now on a Sunday your not going to talk to the people you want to talk to so I went to my computer desk and bookshelf.  I opened the old box and took a good look at all of the goodies inside.  I could recognize many of the old ribbons and medals from spending four years in the Army.  These were very old.  I noticed a Spanish American War medal, a World War I medal, shooting medals and more.  They were all pinned on an old green cloth.
So this is where I would start.  I got my book of military medals out, and away I went.  Some of the medals in to old box were duplicates but there were quite a few in there.  This is what I found:

Haitian Campaign Medal 1917-1920 awarded 3 times.

Indian Wars Medal  1865-1898

West Indies Campaign 1898

Mexican Service.1911-1917

World War I Victory Medal - West Indies

World War I Victory Medal awarded 3 times, fought in the battles of Aisne, Aisne Marne, St. Mihiel , in the France Defensive Sector.

Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal awarded 4 times

Marine Corps Expedition Medal awarded 4 times

Dominican Campaign 1916 awarded 2 times

Spanish American Veteran Meal 1898-1902

Expert medal for rifle and pistol

Sharp Shooter medal for pistol

Marksman medal for pistol

Then I found an old shoulder patch.  I went to the Town Historians office and got out his should patch book and sure enough there it was.  A red triangle with a yellow sea horse with a blue anchor behind it.  This was a “Sea Marines” patch. This meant at one time Charles had on board a ship.

Then I came across an medal with an oriental mans face on it.


It had oriental writing around the picture. On the reverse side were two flags crossed on a blue background.


This medal was in a red velvet case with gold oriental writing on the front. 

It was something I had never seen before.  I messed with trying to find it on the computer, but came up empty handed.  I would have to wait till I had more information.

So the first thing Monday morning I called Janice Givens the Village of Wellsville Clerk.  I asked if she had a death record of Charles Hayes, I can’t remember her answer, but what ever it was, it wasn’t enough.

I knew that Robert Hayes was buried in the Catholic Cemetery in Wellsville a short while ago, so I took my chances and called the Catholic Church in Wellsville and talked to Sue Middaugh.  I asked if there had been a burial of a Charles Hayes at anytime in their cemetery.  She told me to wait a minute and in a few seconds she was back with me. Yes there was a Charles Hayes buried there in January 1938. 

So I grabed my coat and hat and headed to the David A. Howe Library.  I headed to the microfilm and found the correct date, then to the microfilm reader. There it was, the obituary of Charles Hayes retired Marine officer.  I had found my man. But what about the oriental medal?  Well his obit said that he was stationed in China, so chances are it was a Chinese medal, but what did that mean?   Time would tell.

After many hours on the computer, I was still coming up with nothing on the medal. During the Allegany County Firemen’s Convention at Friendship in July of 2004, I sat with Senator Pat McGee during dinner.  I began to tell here about this strange medal and the trouble I was having trying to find information on it.  She told me to send her a copy of everything I had and would see what she could do.  Believe me, she could do some great things as she had helped me out a few times before.  It wasn’t long before I got a letter from Pat telling me that Charles J. Hayes had worked at the embassy in China for a number of years while he was in the service, and that she was going to get in touch with the Chinese Embassy in Washington in regards of the medal.

In August of 2004 Pat wrote me another letter stating that they needed better photos of the medal as they couldn’t read the writing on the outside of it.  So I scanned more pictures of the medal and sent them to one of Pat’s staff members.

Finally on September 10, 2004 I got a letter from Pat, the one I’d been waiting for:

Dear Bill:

GREAT NEWS!!!!  I have gotten the translation of the medal and a short history.  According to Qian Decun of Embassy of China in Washington D.C.: This medal and souvenir was presented by the Warlord General Wu Peifu sometime during the 1920’s.



Wu Peifu was the first Chinese on the cover of Time Magazine and was the general in Luoyang, Henan Province, China.  Interesting is the fact that at General Wu Peifu’s 50th birthday celebration, he invited many foreign countries’ military personnel to attend.  It may be possible that Sgt. Major Hayes was at the event and this may be where he received the medal.

          The picture on the medal is of General Wu Peifu and on this side of the medal the translation is: General Wu Peifu, Deputy envoy in charge of Hunan, Hubei and Henan Provinces presents.  The back says, Good at (or interested in) working in the public affairs.




          Pat O’Donnell still has possession of all of Sgt. Major Charles J. Hayes medals.  We are still working with the U.S. Navy, trying to sort out how Sgt. Major Hayes earned all the rest of the medals.  Some of the dates just don’t come out right, but again, time will tell.

          What a story to stay in an old cigar box for over 65 years.