George Howland Pennoyer - update 8/23/2016

George Howland Pennoyer was born in 1821, probably in Groton, Tompkins County, New York, the son of Justus Powers (b. 1796 and d. 1875 in New York) and Elizabeth Howland (b. 1797 and d. 1871 in New York).

In 1820 Justus was living in Groton, Tompkins County, New York.

George left New York and came to western Michigan sometime before the war broke out.

George stood 5’4” with grey eyes and hair and a ruddy complexion and was a 40-year-old farm laborer possibly living in Kent County when he enlisted in Company B on May 13, 1861. (Company B was made up largely of men from Grand Rapids, and many of whom had served in various local militia units before the war, in particular the Grand Rapids Artillery, under Captain Baker Borden, who would also command Company B.) Some years after the war, George claimed that on July 21, 1861, while the Regiment was retreating from the “Bull Run battle he lay upon the ground getting severely wet and taking a severe cold & thereby contracting rheumatism from which he has never recovered, and which disease troubled him more or less during the whole time he was in the [3rd Michigan] Regiment and also during the whole time that he was a member of the First Regiment U.S. Artillery.”

From August 17-27, 1861, George was treated for lumbago, probably in the Regimental hospital, and was sick in his quarters in September and October of 1861. He returned to the regiment in November and was present for duty through June of 1862, except when he was in the Regimental hospital from March 25 to April 3 suffering from tonsillitis.

George was reported missing in action at White Oak Swamp or Malvern Hill, Virginia on July 1, 1862, and in fact had been taken prisoner. He was confined at Richmond, Virginia, paroled at City Point, Virginia, on August 3, and was at Camp Parole, Maryland on October 23 and sent to Alexandria, Virginia in November. He reportedly suffered from scorbutus from August 6 until October 8, and from chronic diarrhea in late November. He returned to the Regiment on December 20, 1862, at Camp Pitcher, Virginia, and was suffering from intermittent fever from January 4 to 8, 1863.

George was sufficiently recovered from the fever to be transferred on February 13, 1863 to Battery H, 1st U.S. Artillery at Camp Pitcher (near Falmouth, Virginia), and was probably absent sick from April until May suffering from diarrhea. He returned to duty and “while a member of” this Regiment “while in the line of duty at camp near Fairfax Courthouse” sometime in May of 1863 “he strained himself in attempting to mount a horse” thus causing “a hernia breech, swelled testicle (or whatever it may be called) upon the left side causing great enlargement and in such shape that it almost entirely hinders [him] from doing any manual labor.” George was sent to a general hospital sometime in mid-May and was mustered out on June 11, 1864, reportedly “in the field,” but probably in Washington, DC.

After his discharge from the army George returned to Tompkins County, New York and eventually settled in Groveton where he was living when he applied for additional army bounty in 1867.

By 1870 he was living in Cortland, Cortland County, New York when he applied for a pension (no. 266540) but the certificate was never granted. By 1880 George was living in the Cortland County Poor House (or insane asylum). In June of 1883 was admitted to the county insane asylum.

George was married twice. First to Electa Cole, whom he divorced in Pennsylvania sometime before 1868, and second to Lydia (or Libbie) McNish (d. 1924) on August 8, 1868 at Waverly, New York, and they had at least one child.

George commited suicide on January 15, 1884 in “Cortlandville,” New York. According to his obituary:

George Pennoyer of South Cortland, who has been an inmate of the county Insane Asylum since June 1st, committed suicide by hanging last Saturday night. When Warden Hillsinger made his usual rounds on Saturday night, everything was quiet and Pennoyer occupied his usual quarters. On Sunday morning he was found hanging in his cell. He had tied one end of some bed clothing to the grating over the transom by his cell, and fastening the other end about his neck and so accomplished his purpose. He was sixty-four years of age and leaves a wife and one child. 

He was buried at Groton on Wednesday. He had been an inmate of the institution for a few months in the summer of 1880. George was buried with his parents in Groton Rural Cemetery, Groton: Section E, lots 7 and 10.

His widow remarried in 1885 to Alfred Seamen, but was either divorced or widowed again by 1905 when she applied for and received a pension (no. 890,995).