Theodore Augustus Penland

Theodore Augustus Penland

Goshen, Elkhart County, Indiana, USA
Death 13 Sep 1950 (aged 101)
Vancouver, Clark County, Washington, USA
Burial Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, USA
Plot Third floor, Harding Section West, Tier 6
Memorial ID 21227580 · View Source
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The last Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic. When he died there were only eight other surviving Union veterans. With two wives, both named Elizabeth, Penland had ten children, and at the time of his death had almost fifty living descendants. His father John Penland, a Union soldier, died as a result of wounds received in the Battle of Stone's River. Theodore Penland was just 16 years old at that time but lied about his age in order to enlist in the Union Army. He enlisted in Company A, 152nd Indiana Volunteer Infantry at Goshen, Indiana, and mustered out of service August 2, 1865 at Charlestown, West Virginia. His post-war vocations of farming and railroad work, and the lure of adventure, drew him repeatedly to the American West. In 1868 he walked from Indiana to California, lived briefly in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and took up residence in both Sacramento, California and Nevada. He worked in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the Union Pacific Railroad through 1869 when the golden spike completed the transcontinental line at Promontory Point. After a brief return to Indiana, his other residences included Michigan, Los Angeles, San Diego, and, ultimately, Portland where he spent the last 70 years of his life. He continued world travels to Australia and New Zealand, and later retraced his transcontinental walks by journeys in airplanes. Throughout his long life he remained vitally interested in veteran's affairs and in the fraternal and charitable activities of the Grand Army of the Republic. He attended battlefield reunions at Gettysburg as well as National and Department Encampments of the GAR. As one of the final survivors, he held the top office of Commander in the Department of Oregon from 1935 until his death, and was a national GAR officer from 1941 until his death. In 1948 he was elected Commander-in-Chief of the GAR and presided at the Final Encampment in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1949. At that Encampment a resolution was passed holding all officers in office to the end of the organization, making Commander Penland the final Commander-in-Chief. He was the last surviving member of the Grand Army of the Republic in Oregon and his death closed that Department. On September 1, 1950 he flew from Portland to Los Angeles, to be present at the conventions of three of the Allied organizations of the GAR, returning on the 8th, tired, but apparently in about the same health as when he went to California. The morning of the 13th his angel of death removed him from this life. He passed away at the Veteran's Hospital in Vancouver, Washington. According to his obituary, Penland enjoyed giving talks on his experiences in the Civil War, of the time he saw President Abraham Lincoln, and on the virtues of "living carefully". His distinctive singing voice was a feature of GAR firesides, with a favorite reportedly "Tenting On The Old Camp Ground." Reportedly he favored talking and singing on the radio, a signal accomplishment for one born in the age of telegraphy, and speaking with young people. At the time of his death, Penland held membership in thirty-two patriotic orders including the GAR.

Bio by: Randy Fletcher

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Randy Fletcher
  • Added: 28 Aug 2007
  • Find a Grave Memorial 21227580
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Theodore Augustus Penland (23 Jan 1849–13 Sep 1950), Find a Grave Memorial no. 21227580, citing Wilhelm's Portland Memorial Mausoleum, Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .