Cayucan’s link to first day of memorial

May 27, 2012 

As commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union Civil War veterans, Gen. John A. Logan on May 5, 1868, issued General Order No. 11, stating, “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

Cindy Logan Hankins of Cayucos is the great-great-granddaughter of Gen. Logan.

“Father took great pride in his heritage. Daddy retold us the stories he heard from his grand-Pop, so we have family stories that may not be in the history books. One was (the general) was disowned by his family when he supported the Union’s war effort to free the slaves.”

As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1861, Logan supported a compromise between the North and South. His position earned him accusations of being a traitor in his own state of Illinois.

However, President Abraham Lincoln praised him. Logan is credited with persuading 40 percent of eligible Illinois volunteers to fight with the Union, and he served on the front lines commanding the Army of Tennessee during the Battle of Atlanta.

“My great-great-grandmother Mary Cunningham Logan got word the general had been wounded and died, but after traveling to retrieve the body, he was alive,” Hankins said.

“She nursed him back to health, and by 1871 he was elected to the (U.S.) Senate. After visiting Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg, Va., Mary was disturbed by the tattered flags and withered flowers,” Hankins added. “She suggested to her husband that Congress needed a day to properly honor those lost serving their country. An official Memorial Day was her idea, and he got it through Congress.”

In 1884, the Republican presidential ticket was James G. Blaine with Gen. Logan as the vice-presidential nominee.

Various Internet sites and the John A. Logan Museum in Murphysboro, Ill., say Logan would have been the next Republican presidential nominee if he hadn’t died in 1886.

Gen. Logan’s name is memorialized on bronze plaques throughout the nation. There are statues, a college and a museum that bear his name. In 2014, Hankins and surviving Logan ancestors will attend a reunion, re-enactment and gun salute at the John A. Logan Museum.

“The first time I went through the museum, he seemed taller. Walking through your family’s history makes you want to learn more about our American history,” Hankins said.

A resident of Cayucos since 1985, she and her husband, Doug Hankins, retired from real estate. She owned Seaside Real Estate and Property Management. She now enjoys time with her four dogs, quilting and feeding the homeless.

Reach Judy Salamacha at judysalamacha@gmail.com or 801-1422.

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