General John A. Logan, Commander-in-Chief of the G.A.R., requested members of all posts to decorate the graves of their fallen comrades with flowers on May 30, 1868. This idea came from his wife, who had seen Confederate graves decorated by Southern women in Virginia. So, in 1868, Commander-in-Chief John A. Logan issued General Order No. 11 calling for all Departments and Posts to set aside the 30th of May as a day for remembering the sacrifices of fallen comrades, thereby beginning the celebration of Memorial Day. By the following year all GAR Posts throughout the United States honored all Veteran's Grave's with U.S. Flags, flowers and eulogies regardless of Union or Confederate affiliation. This tradition thus set the stage for Decoration Day and later on, became Memorial Day.
Please join us on May 30, 2009 at the GAR Cemetery in Portland, Oregon and bring your family. It is part of the Traditions and Legacies that are shared by all Veterans today and learn a little bit about the Grand Army of the Republic, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and a few of these Soldiers, whose families have are dedicated to keep their memories alive.
One of our Guest Speakers for the Dedication is Retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant, Richard W. Penland, one of The Great Grandsons of Theodore A. Penland, The Last Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, who has ventured from his home in Italy for this event and because his Great Grandfather Dedicated the original Monument on Memorial Day, May 30, 1946.
You can read more about Theodore A. Penland and his Father, John Penland, also a Civil War Veteran that died of wounds received at the Battle of Stones River Campaign near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. There is also a Photo Album below with pictures of other Penland Family Patriots.
The only two that were not in the Military are Wilton V. Penland (Theodores A. Penland's Son) and Wilton P. Penland (Theodore A. Penland's Grandson). Wilton V. Penland was too old when World War I happened and Wilton P. Penland was working at Mare Island during World War II and they would not release him from his critical Civil Service Job for Military Service.
There were also some Penland Women Patriots that were part of the War efforts during World War II and they need to be mentioned as well. The wife of Wilton V. Penland, Faye Hashberger, was a seamstress at Oakland Army Base during World War II and the wife of Wilton P. Penland, Fairabelle M. Anderson was a Ferry Pilot for Fighter Planes during World War II. There may have been more, but these are the only two that are documented.
Theodore Augustus Penland
Theodore Augustus Penland, age 101, of Portland, Oregon, and a resident of many states in the Union died September 13, 1950.
He was born January 23, 1849, at New Paris, Indiana, to John and Mary Penland. He was the father of ten children, eighteen grandchildren, nineteen great grandchildren and twelve great, great grandchildren.
He saw men drafted for the first time during the Civil War, then again witnessed the Nation’s second application of conscription for World War I, and also for the third registration as a prelude to mobilization of the countries manpower for World War II.
Mr. Penland had attempted to enlist in the Union Army twice and was turned down because he was only 16 years old.He decided to give it one more try, so he got a couple of pieces of paper and wrote the number 18 on each one.He inserted them between his socks and the soles of his shoes and when he was asked if he was 18 or over, he replied, “I am over 18 now!”
When he enlisted in the Union Army at Goshen, Indiana, he was assigned to Company “A” 152nd Indiana Infantry which along with other units was attached to Lincoln’s Army of the Potomac which did guard duty along the Potomac for the remainder of the war.
His father John Penland died of wounds received at the Battle of Stones River Campaign near Murfreesboro, TN.John was gut shot by being grazed by a cannon ball and left for dead on the Battlefield.John held in his guts and walked nearly a mile back into camp and lived for 4 days before he died. John enlisted as a member of the 57th Indiana Infantry. Two of his brothers were prisoners of the Confederates at Andersonville Prison, dying shortly after the close of the war from hardships and under-nourishment. He was mustered out of service in 1865 at Charleston, West Virginia, and returned to farming near Goshen, until 1868, when the lure of adventure in the west drew him to California. Enroute, he went broke in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and walked 1400 miles over the old emigrant trail to Sacramento. From there he went to Sierra Nevada Mountains, where he secured work on the Union Pacific Railroad. He remained with the railroad until the golden spike was driven Promontory Point, near Ogden, Utah. Returning to Indiana he resumed farming, made another trip west and lived in Missaukee County, Michigan, near Lake City. The lure of the west proved too strong however, and in 1915 he returned to California, living in Los Angeles. Later at San Diego, and finally he came to Portland, which he had previously visited in 1877. At the age of seventy-five he made a trip to Australia and New Zealand, returning to settle in Portland, which he had learned to love. He attended the reunion of the Blue and Gray at Gettysburg and has yearly attended conventions in other states as well as being a very active member here. In October 1940 he passed a thorough examination at the Battle Creek Sanatorium, Battle Creek, Michigan, being far above the average for his age. The keenness of his mind and business ability being remarkable.
In January of 1943 he suffered a broken hip and bruises but recovered sufficiently to enjoy a trip to the National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in September. This was far beyond even the expectations of the doctors. He was ill before he went into the Army, then for eighty-five years did not require the aid of a doctor. He was a member of thirty-two patriotic orders, many of them stemming from the Grand Army of the Republic. He has attended all of the GAR Encampments, except two since the first one in 1866. He has served as Department Commander of the State of Oregon since 1935. In 1941 he served as National Patriotic Instructor of the Grand Army. In 1946 he was elected Junior-Vice Commander, in 1947 Semi-Vice Commander, and at the National Encampment in 1948 at Grand Rapids, Michigan, Theodore A. Penland was elected by his comrades to the high office of Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic. At the Grand Rapids Encampment in 1948, it was agreed that the next Encampment in 1949 would be the last one since the Boys in Blue were becoming too feeble to travel. Only six members of the GAR were able to be at the Grand Rapids Encampment. During the following year, four of these comrades, passed on. At the 83rd and Final Encampment in Indianapolis in 1949, there were also six members of the GAR able to attend. AT this Encampment the six comrades present voted to have Commander Penland continue office as long as he lived, thus making Theodore A. Penland the last Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic. Commander Penland enjoyed a very active life. He would rather be tired than be idle. His chief occupation in later years was to talk to people, relating his experiences of the Civil War, and offering his sound advice concerning “living carefully”. He was especially fond of telling of the time he saw President Abraham Lincoln. He liked to travel by air over the 1400-mile route he once hiked. He possessed a strong, clear voice and enjoyed singing his favorite songs to young and old. “Tenting tonight on the old camp ground” was one of his favorites.
He was always ready and willing to talk and sing over the radio, and had many opportunities to do so. Commander Penland liked people and knew how to get along well with them. While he always enjoyed talking with people who like himself had many years of experience, he was especially fond of talking to young people. This he did with them individually and in large groups. On several occasions, he was the guest speaker, before pupils and teachers in the Hamtramck (Michigan) Public Schools where his grandson, Eldon C. Geyer was a Superintendent of Schools in the city.
Theodore appeared in LIFE Magazine four times, appeared on the Ralph Edward's "This Is Your Life" Radio Show before it went on television and articles about him were in over 350 National and International Newspapers. He also spoke at the public launching of two U.S. Naval Battleships during World War II. He pushed for Veterans Rights and Entitlements for nearly 80 years and when he died, he and his Comrades left this Great Nation with Traditions and Legacies followed to this day and they formally closed the Civil War period in American History.