Theodore Peniston — First to Navigate the Grand for Commerce

Theodore "Uncle Theo" Peniston is due the honor of being the first to utilize the Grand River as a highway for commerce. And before his death in 1892, Peniston passed through two Indian wars, the Mormon War, the Mexican War, the Civil War, and all the incidents connected with them. He was initimately involved with the beginnings of Daviess County and was popular among its people.

Theodore "Uncle Theo" Peniston is due the honor of being the first to utilize the Grand River as a highway for commerce. And before his death in 1892, Peniston passed through two Indian wars, the Mormon War, the Mexican War, the Civil War, and all the incidents connected with them. He was initimately involved with the beginnings of Daviess County and was popular among its people.

Theodore was but 19 years old when he came to Grand River country. When Black Hawk organized the Sacs and Fox and went on the warpath,Theodore Peniston, in company with others, enlisted as scouts and did good service in patroling Northern Missouri and Southern Iowa until Black Hawk and his band were exterminated.

Again in 1834, Peniston became a scout in what was then known as the Hertherly War. It was at this time that the settlers built a block house near his father’s residence. In the spring of 1836 he built a flat boat on the Grand River near the town of Millport and loaded it with venison hams, deer skins, coon skins, wild turkey, honey and beeswax. He ran safely out of Grand River and down the Missouri River to St. Louis where he disposed of his cargo and then returned home. Thus, Theodore Peniston was the first to utilize the waters of Grand River as a highway for commerce.

About this same time, Peniston studied law and was admitted to the bar. He located in Gallatin, MO, for several years and followed this profession. He later returned to farming.

Theodore Peniston was born in Jessamine County, KY, on May 6, 1812. He married Susan F. Williams in February, 1848. He died in Jackson Township, Daviess County, MO, on Nov. 9, 1892, at age 80. He was buried on his farm in the old family cemetery on the Ridge near where he first located in the county.

Peniston came from a family which was among the very first to populate Daviess County, MO. His father, Robert P. Peniston, settled on Splawn Ridge before Daviess County was organized. At the time of Robert’s death in 1831, Theodore was the only member of his father’s family residing in the county and was the oldest living resident in the county, having resided here for 61 years.

Taken from a reprint of an obituary printed as a “40 Years Ago” memory printed in the Gallatin North Missourian, 1932.