Sharing the Common Wealth showcases objects, artifacts, documents, structures and buildings from the collections of PHMC.

An exceptionally rare medal – one of only thirty-nine believed to have been awarded to Pennsylvania Militiamen who served in the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813 – was recently donated to the Erie Maritime Museum by descendants of Private Samuel McKinney (1786-1871), who received it for his service onboard the Flagship Niagara. The medals, designed by Moritz Fuerst and struck in silver at the Philadelphia Mint, were authorized by the state legislature in January 1814 and presented to the recipients in 1819. They are considered the first medals generally issued by any state to its veterans. McKinney’s medal, accompanied by the original presentation certificate signed by Governor William Findlay – the only known surviving sample – was donated by John H. McKinney of Wattsburg, Erie County, on behalf of the family. The medal is now on display at the Erie Maritime Museum with a facsimile of the certificate, which conservators judged too delicate to exhibit.