Oregon Republican League: History 104 Biographies
Every week, the Oregon Republican League will post the biographies of important figures, in the League's/State of Oregon's history. Feel free to comment or share stories of your family's Republican affiliation.
An Illustrated History of Umatilla County & Morrow County, by Colonel William Parsons and W. S. Shiach with a brief outline of the early history of the State of Oregon. W. H. Lever, Spokane, WA, (1902), p. 427-428.
BENJAMIN F. RENN. - It is with a hearty good will that we accord to this representative citizen of our county a place in its abiding chronicles, for one who has defended his flag in the time when civil strife sought to rend our fair land in twain, who interposed his own life between his country and ruin, and on many fields of blood demonstrated that his was real patriotism, deserves to be placed high in the roll of honor, far above what our poor tribute could do, though freely it is paid. Of these real veterans we love to dwell upon their deed, facts, not fiction.
His birth occurred on December 15, 1837, on his father’s farm in Lycoming county, Pennsylvania, where he spent the years of his minority. The total amount of his schooling was summed up into three months, but industrious habits and an active mind would not be content at this and he followed Franklin’s plan until he became well read and abreast of the times. In the spring of 1859 he went to Bremer county, Iowa, and rented a farm from a man who was heavily attacked with the Pike’s Peak fever. Farming, for one season, he then, in 1861, enlisted in Company G, Ninth Iowa Infantry, Captain William Washburn, Colonel William Vandevere, First Division General Osterhause, Fifteenth Army Corps, General John A. Logan. He was in continuous service for three years and participated in many battles and sieges, besides much skirmishing and scouting, among which were Pea Ridge, Helena, Arkansas, then on to Vicksburg, where the soldiers suffered much from small pox, many dying. Here he helped to build many of the famous works of U.S. Grant. After some time here he was put under Sherman and fought at Chickasaw and Bayous, took part in the expedition up the White river, capturing seven thousand Confederates with all of the munitions, did field service at Port Hudson, was in the front in the struggle at Jackson, Mississippi, then on to Champion Hills, and again at the siege of Vicksburg, where he saw Grant and Pemberton under the old oak tree making terms. After this they again fought before Jackson and captured it, then across the Black river and so ended the first campaign. Suffering an attack on the fever here, he was removed to Memphis to the hospital, but regained his command at Stevenson, Alabama, in the fall of 1863, then hurried into the siege of Atlanta, with heavy fighting for forty days, when the city fell. This being the end of his time he was discharged at East Point, twenty miles south of Atlanta, in the enemy’s country, and was forced, with thirty companions, to fight the way back through Bragg’s lines, who held sway between Atlanta and Nashville. He arrived home safely in October, 1864, having never received a would through all these fierce fights, and having attained to the rank of sergeant. He remained in Pennsylvania for one year recuperating and then turned again to Iowa, engaging in general work until 1866, when on account of his health, he went to California via New York and the Isthmus, landing in San Francisco on July 5, 1866. Later he was able to enter active service and engaged as sawyer in Santa Clara and Mendocino counties for four years and then went to Kansas and later to southern Minnesota, purchasing a farm and remaining for four years. In 1876 he sold out and went to Salem, this state, laboring for wages and purchasing a farm later in Marion county, whence he went to Clark county, Washington territory. In 1866 he sold out there and came to Pendleton, where he has followed the hotel and feed business since, now being the owner and proprietor of a fine two-story pressed brick building at the corner of Court and Cotton streets.
On September 25, 1871, he was married to Miss Theresa Benedict, in Osage Mission, Kansas. They have the following children: Robert S., express agent at Pendleton; Dora, at Colfax; Minnie; Celia; Arthur Garfield; Orien Logan, the last two in school. Mr. Renn is Republican in politics and quite active in the campaigns. He is also a member of Kit Carson Post, 26, G.A.R., of Pendleton, where he held the position of vice commander for one term. He is one of the leading citizens of the city and is respected and esteemed by all, being a real lover of the country for which he did such valiant service.