Soldiers' Home, National.By act of Congress approved March 3, 1865, the National Military and Naval Asylum for the relief of the totally disabled officers and men of the volunteer forces of the United States was incorporated. This institution was established at Dayton, Ohio, and only those who had suffered from wounds or injuries received in the line of duty while in the United States service were eligible for admission. Branches of the national home have since been built at the following places: Eastern branch, Togus, Me.; southern branch, Elizabeth City county, Va.; northwestern branch, Milwaukee, Wis.; Marion branch, Marion, Ind.; western branch, Leavenworth, Kan.; Danvile branch, Danville, Ill.; Pacific branch, Santa Monica, Cal.; Mountain branch, Johnson City, Tenn.; and Battle Mountain sanitarium, Hot Springs, S. Dak.
The first move in Kansas to secure a branch of the home originated with the Fort Scott G. A. R. post. The next move was in Leavenworth by S. F. Neeley, ex-Gov. George T. Anthony, Gen. Charles W. Blair and Hon. Alexander Caldwell. A citizens' meeting was called and a committee appointed consisting of J. B. Johnson, Maj. W. B. Shockley, Thomas Ryan, Charles W. Blair, George T. Anthony and S. F. Neeley. These gentlemen, together with the committees from the other states interested in securing the branch of the home, met and conferred with the Congressional representation at the various places viewed and examined. Five states were actively interested in securing the prize and at times the contest was spirited. The Iowa legislature, then in session, passed an act appropriating $50,000 to secure the home, while the Kansas delegation offered $50,000 and a section of land. After careful deliberation the present site overlooking the Missouri river and the surrounding country was chosen. The Leavenworth branch was established under act of Congress approved March 7, 1877. The buildings, some 16 or more, are, for the most part, substantially built of brick and stone and cost something over $500,000. They will accommodate about 3,000 inmates when filled to their utmost capacity, and there is generally close to that number in the home.
Some complaint reached Congress regarding the manner in which the home was being conducted, and a committee composed of Congressmen William W. Grout, Charles W. Stone, Vespasian Warner and F. C. Layton, met in Leavenworth on Nov. 19, 1896, to investigate and report the plan, practical workings and management of the home. Nearly 200 witnesses were examined and the testimony, together with the recommendations of the committee, was printed and laid before Congress, making a volume of 1,118 pages. The committee recommended the removal of Gov. Smith, then in charge of the home, as the easiest way out of the difficulty. The first disabled soldier was admitted to the home on Sept. 1, 1885, while in 1901 there was provision made for 2,740 veterans. In the latter '90s and 1900, a portion of the main-traveled road leading to the home was infested with a number of low "groggeries," in which many of the old soldiers spent money received on pension days. After several murders had been committed and numerous assaults made upon veterans, the place was suppressed.
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