Edwin St. John Greble, the first commanding general of the Thirty-sixth Infantry Division, was born at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, on June 24, 1859, to John Trout and Sarah Bradley (French) Greble. His father, a West Point alumnus, was killed in the Civil War at Big Bethel in 1861. Greble received an at-large appointment to West Point while living in Pennsylvania and graduated sixth in the class of 1881. His marriage to Gertrude Poland on June 24, 1885, produced two daughters and one son, Edwin, Jr., who graduated from West Point in 1909 and served in France in World War I.
During his long career as an artillery officer, Greble attended the military schools at forts Leavenworth and Monroe, was an aid to Gen. O. O. Howard (1885–89), received the Spanish surrender of Havana in 1898, taught at West Point, served on the General Staff, and commanded the artillery at Naco, Douglas, and El Paso during the Mexican border crisis. He was promoted to brigadier general in the regular army in 1916 and to major general in what was then called the National Army after the American entry into World War I in April 1917.
Greble's promotion to major general came with orders directing him to proceed to Camp Bowie, Tarrant County, Texas, to reorganize the Texas and Oklahoma National Guards as the Thirty-sixth Division and to train it for combat. He assumed command of the new camp on August 24, 1917, supervised the reception of the guardsmen, and began the formation of the division. He was away on an official tour of the Western Front from September 19 to December 7. He was notably successful in developing esprit de corps among the troops and in maintaining good relations with Fort Worth and with communities in Texas and Oklahoma.
His able leadership and strong local support notwithstanding, Greble was not with the Thirty-sixth when it departed for France in July 1918 because of his failure to meet Gen. John J. Pershing's physical standards for overseas commanders. He remained in command of Camp Bowie in his regular army rank until his retirement for physical disability the following September. He returned home to Philadelphia and subsequently lived in Washington, D.C. He died in New Jersey in September 1931.