U.S. National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938 about James W Richardson
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Civil War Rosters
23 August 2009 Note: This site will replace the geocities hosted site that will close Oct of 2009. It has been sanctioned by the original site developer. I will continue to update this information on a weekly basis. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me:
This is a directory of Civil War Rosters/Muster Rolls that have been found on the internet. Since only 50-60% of all rosters are on the internet, some units will not be listed. If you find a roster that is not listed, please forward URL to me and I will gladly add it.
NOTE: If you can’t find your unit or regiment on these pages, please check the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors page.
National Park Service Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Main Page
NOTE: Effective October 31, 2008 AOL will no longer support their members web pages and ALL AOL web pages will be taken down. If you have an AOL web page listed, please send me your old webpage and your new web address and I’ll gladly change it for you.
RELOAD FOR CURRENT UPDATES. CHECK THE MAIN PAGE FOR NEW MONTHLY UPDATE LIST AND MESSAGES
To add information (correct name, add soldier information, etc.) to these pages, please contact by email the webmaster of that unit page. Email addresses should be found on each unit page. Thanks.
- 1864 – 7th Regiment Missouri Calvary, CSA – documents
- 1880 Reunion of Benton County Veterans of Civil War [includes veterans from CO, DE, IL, IN, KS, KY, ME, MA, MI, MN, MO, OH, NY, PA, WI, and United States Regulars]
- 1881 G.A.R. Old Soldiers Reunion [includes veterans from AR, CA, CT, IA, IN, IL , KS, KY, ME, MI, MN, MO, Navy, NE, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, WI, Independent from Ringgold Cavalry, US Infantry, Wilderness Scout, Engineer Corp.]
- 1889 Roster of ex-Soldiers and Soldiers Widows in Lincoln County, KS [includes states of CO, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MI, MN, MO, NE, NJ, OH, NY, PA, TN, VT, WI, WV, US Regiment, and Vet. Reserve Corp]
- 1889 Civil War Veterans Reunion, Unionville, Missouri [Putnam County][ includes states of AR, CA, IA, IN, IL, KS, KY, MD, MI, MO, OH, PA, VA, WI, WV, VT and units of E.M.M., M.S.M, US Infantry, E.M.M. Mtd. Inf., MO Home Guard, U. S. V.V. Eng. and Navy.]
- 1890 Veterans Census Hancock County, WV [inclues states of IA, IN, IL, MO, NC, NY, OH, PA, VA, WV, and units of USA Infantry, Surgeons with no states listed, US Light Artillery, and numerous Veterans with no unit or state listed.]
- 1890 Butler County, MO Special Civil War Schedules Enumeration [numerous states listed]
- 1890 Census Reconstruction – Coos County, Oregon Listing of soldiers/sailors from US Infantry, US Artillery, Navy, and states of AR, CA, CO, CT, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MN, NC, NH, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, TX, VA, WI, Washington; to include many names without state identification.
- 1890 Veterans Census for Northern Virginia – 1890 Veterans Census of Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, and Stafford Counties Listing of soldiers/sailors from US Infantry, US Artillery, Navy, and states of CA, CT, DC, IA, IL, IN, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MN, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV, Washington; other titles of Surgeons, Inspector General, US Inf., Chaplin Hospital; includes many names without state identification or units.
- 1906 Confederate Veterans and Widows Enumeration for DeSoto County, MS. [includes states of AL, AR, GA, MO, MS, NC, SC, TN and VA]
- 1907 Census or Enumeration of Confederate Soldiers Residing in the State of Alabama – Baldwin County [includes numerous states]
- 1907 Census or Enumeration of Confederate Soldiers Residing in the State of Alabama – Washington County [includes numerous states]
- 1st Missouri Light Artillery – The Turner Brigade – Adjutant General’s ReportAlso includes 5th MO Vol. Cavalry, 17th MO Infantry, Medical Corps and
- 10thMissouri Infantry Regiment, U.S.
- 24thMissouri Volunteer Infantry, “Lyon Legion”
- 1883 Wilson County Veterans of the War: A list of Union Soldiers Living in Wilson County, KS
- 1893 Nebraska Census of Civil War Veterans (listed by state)
- Andreas’ History of the State of Nebraska – Military Rosters This website is well worth looking at. It names the Veterans residence as well as their nationality and in some cases where buried. Of the first 3 pages I came up with more states and countries than I can list here. Nationalities of Canada, Prussia, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Sweden, England, Luxemboug, Switzerland, Wales, and more.
- Barry County and Newton County, MO Historical Items to include numerous Civil War Rosters
- Barry County, Missouri USGenWeb – The Blue & Gray – Civil War Union Soldier Listing
- Barton County, MO
- Battle of Dug Spring
- Benton Cadets Missouri Infantry
- Benton County, TN Genealogy _ Tradegy at Duck Hill Station, Collision of the James Brown and the A. M. West [numerous soldiers/states listed]
- Biographical Sketch of Confederate Soldiers
- Biographical Sketch of Union Soldiers
- Brevet Union Generals of the Civil War Listed alphabetically by Soldier’s name
- Brevet Major General John H. McNeil, USV
- Chalk Bluff Offical Records Index Page: Marmaduke’s Expedition into Missouri
- Civil War Forum by Genealogy.com [If you are not familiar with Genealogy.Com check out their main web page – so many topics, family names, states and more.
- Civil War Pensions by State
- Civil War Photographs: Confederate
- Civil War Veterans Reunion -Unionville, MO; Putman County – September 1889 [numerous states listed]
- Featured Biographies and Obituaries [numerous states listed]
- Four Mile to Chalk Bluff Campbell, Missouri
- Civil War Mysteries: Home of the Unknowns
- Civil War Photographs: Union Army
- Civil War in Southeast Missouri
- Civil War St. Louis
- Cole County Historical Society – Links to Civil War Pages
- Confederate Deaths, Vicksburg Hospitals, June and July 1863 Includes states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee
- Confederate Veterans of Wright County, MO.
- Captain Bob’s Confederate Website Very informative page for Wright, Webster, Texas, and Douglas Counties, Missouri
- Crawford County in the Civil War
- Fort Union National Monument: Regiments whose Components were assigned to Fort Union
- Freeman’s Regiment, Missouri Cavalry, CSA
- Fremont’s Body Guard (Email Address only) John L. Maurath has been researching the unit known as Fremont’s Body Guard for a good while now, and has the name of every man. He has offered his services as a researcher of this unit from Missouri and Ohio. Thank you, John.
- Fristoe’s Cavalry
- Garvin County, Wynnewood, OK Confederate Monument [Veteran list includes the states/units of AL, AR, AZ, GA, KY, LA, OK, MO, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA, Cado Indian Battlation, Palmetto Sharpshooters, Chickasaw Battalion, Cherokee Mounted Rifles, Choctaw & Chickasaw Mounted Rifles]
- The General’s Burials Listing
- The General Lyon Disaster
- The Burning of the General Lyon
- The Passenger List of the Steamer General Lyon
- Sources for the Steamer General Lyon Disaster – The New York Times – April, 1865 and The Times of London, April 27, 1865
- Grand Army of the Republic Death Rolls Books [advertisement] includes states of AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, Dakota Territory, DE, District of Columbia, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE Territory, NE, NH, NJ, NM Territory, NY, NC, OH, OR, PA, RH, TN, VT, VA, WV, WI, US Army, USCT, US Navy, Veterans Reserve Corp.
- The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) in MO
- Gratiot State Prison
- Great Locomotive Chase (Andrews Raiders) by Find-A-Grave. [includes the states of CA, GA, IA, IL, KS, MO, NY, OH, TN, TX, WV]
- Greenwood County, Kansas Civil War Veteran’s Reunion 1887
- Hearts of Blue & Gray – Civil War Sites in Cape Girardeau, Missouri
- Howard & Cooper County
- Hungarians in Civil War Missouri
- Illinois Soldier’s and Sailor’s Home, Quincy, IL – Admission of Mexican War and Civil War Veterans [numerous states]
- Index to the Civil War in Missouri Links and Resources
- Index to the Officers of Missouri Volunteers and Missouri State Militia
- Iron County in the Civil War
- Johnson County, MO
- USGenWeb Missouri Civil War Veterans Counties of Laclede, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Linn and Livingston Counties
- Military Order of the Loyal Legion (MOLLUS) – Missouri Commandry
- Missouri Confederate Brigade
- Missouri Civil War
- Missouri Civil War Map of Battles
- Missouri Civil War Museum at Jefferson Barracks
- Missouri Civil War Union Militia Organizations
- Missouri in the Civil War by USGenWeb
- Missouri Digital Heritage: Soldiers’ Records: War of 1812 – World War I
- Missouri Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Independence Chapter 710
- Missouri Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans
- Missouri Medal of Honor Recipients A-L [includes soldiers of various states]
- Missouri Medal of Honor Recipients M-Z [includes soldiers of various states]
- Missouri State Archives Soldier’s Database: War of 1812 – World War I.
- Missouri Volunteer Forces in the Civil War with Federal Service (Union)
- Missouri Volunteer Forces in the Civil War with Federal Service (Union): Missouri Home Guard
- Muster Roll of Company A Jackson’s Company 1865
- Platte County, Nebraska Civil War Veterans – Veterans listed by date of death. Includes the following states: California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusettes, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Captain Pawnee Scouts, U.S. Infantry.
- Polk County Missouri Civil War Veterans
- Quantrill’s Partisan Rangers
- Records of the Veterans Administration: Great Lakes Region, Chicago – Home for Disabled Soldiers in Marion, Indiana This website is well worth looking at. Records of the Marion Branch, Marion, IN. Sample Case Files of Veterans Temporarily at the Branch, 1890-1930. States/Units listed: CT, IN, IA, IL, KY, MD, MI, MO, MN, NH, NY, OH, PA, TN, USCT units, US Cavalry and US Infantry, US Signal Corps, 23rd Recruit Company, Quartermaster Depot, Veterans Reserve Corp, US Navy, US Field Artillery and more.
- Regimental Nicknames
- Roster of Quantrill’s, Anderson’s and Todd’s Guerrillas and other “Missouri Jewels”
- St. Francois County Civil War Index
- Stone Prairie Home Guard (Barry County)
- Surgeon on Horseback – a book of civil war letters and Journal of Dr. Charles Brackett of Rochester, Indiana – 1st Indiana Cavalry and 9th Illinois Cavalry
- United Daughters of the Confederacy: Stonewall Jackson Chapter 476 [numerous soldiers/units listed under “Our Ancestors”
- United Daughters of the Confederacy: Independence Chapter 710
- United States Resources: Missouri
- Union Regimental History Index
- Union Soldiers Executed
- USIGS Books OnLine Index [Military Links State Index]
- 2nd Missouri Cavalry, Co. B, CSA
- 5th Missouri Infantry
- 7th Regiment Missouri Cavalry, CSA, Special Orders 1864 [also lists some officers and soldiers]
- 7th Missouri Cavalry, CSA
- 7thProvisional Enrolled Missouri Militia, Co. G [Captain Ray’s]
- 7thProvisional Enrolled Missouri Militia, Co. K [Captain Ritchie’s]
- 8th Missouri Cavalry, CSA
- 8th Missouri Infantry, CSA
- Units of the 8th Division Missouri State Guard
- Units of the 9th Regiment Infantry Missouri Volunteers aka 59th Illinois Infantry
- 10th Missouri Cavalry
- 10th Missouri Cavalry
- 10th Missouri Infantry
- 10th Missouri Infantry, Co. B
- 11th Missouri Cavalry CSA
- 12th Regiment, Missouri Infantry, Company G
- 15th Missouri Cavalry Regiment Co. L, CSA
- 15thMissouri Cavalry, Co. G [Captain Ray’s]
- 15thMissouri Cavalry, Co. K [Captain Ritchie’s]
- 16th Missouri Infantry Roster Co. F, CSA, Henry County
- 21st Missouri Infantry
- 23rd Missouri Volunteer Infantry
- 26thMissouri Volunteer Infantry, USA
- 28th Enrolled Missouri Militia [aka E.M.M.]
- 29thMissouri Volunteer Infantry, USA
- 39thMissouri Infantry Volunteers, Co. G and the Centralia Massacre
- 42ndMissouri Muster Roll 1864
- 49thMissouri Volunteer Infantry
- 76thEnrolled Missouri Militia, Co. I, 1864 [Captain Lowe’s]
- 76thEnrolled Missouri Militia, Co. I, 1862-63 [Captain Ritchie’s]
- 76thEnrolled Missouri Militia, Co. K, 1863 [Captain Hening’s]
- 76thEnrolled Missouri Militia, Co. K, 1864 [Captain Burgess’]
- 76thEnrolled Missouri Militia, Co. L [Captain Ray’s]
© 2009 Musketguy@hotmail.com
Spring 2004, Vol. 36, No. 1
The National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers
By Trevor K. Plante
This vintage postcard shows the main building of the Northwestern Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, opened in Milwaukee (Wood), WI, in 1867. (author’s collection)
Plante was AWOL again. He finally returned on July 2, 1907, having been gone since June 30. This wasn’t the first time that Wilfred Plante was considered absent without leave and it wouldn’t be the last. In fact, he was becoming a frequent offender. All told, Plante was AWOL at least eleven times. His punishments ranged from being excused to serving thirty days labor without pay. What makes Plante’s tale, and charges of AWOL, so interesting is that he wasn’t even in the army at the time. Wilfred Plante, a former Union soldier who had served in the Twenty-fifth Massachusetts Infantry, was one of thousands of Civil War veterans living in a soldiers’ home run by the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.
Admitted to the Eastern Branch of the soldiers’ home in Togus, Maine, on August 3, 1898, and assigned to Company D, Plante (member #11293) lived out the remainder of his life at the home until his death on October 31, 1926. He was buried in the home cemetery, now a national cemetery maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Most genealogists have never heard of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. Many are familiar with the U.S. Soldiers Home in Washington, D.C., or maybe even the Naval Home that operated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While these two homes served retired members of the Regular Army and Navy, the federal government did not operate volunteer soldiers’ homes until after the Civil War.
During the Civil War, many groups assisted veterans in several large cities in the North such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Cleveland. The United States Sanitary Commission ran several temporary soldiers’ homes. Other asylums, often managed by female benevolent societies, offered short-term relief for disabled soldiers and sailors. During the Civil War, female philanthropist Delphine Baker, through her Chicago publication, the National Banner, pushed for the creation and support of a federally run asylum for disabled Union veterans. Eventually Baker moved to New York City and established the National Literary Association, incorporated in May 1864. The association’s goal was to establish a national home for disabled soldiers and sailors through the publication and sale of the National Banner, which also promoted literature, science and the arts.
Baker worked diligently to collect signatures of prominent people for a petition supporting her cause. On December 8, 1864, a petition asking for “the passage of a bill appropriating money for the founding and support of a national home totally disabled soldiers and sailors of the army and navy of the United States,” was referred to the Senate’s Committee on Military Affairs and the Militia. More than one hundred people signed the petition, including William C. Bryant, Henry Longfellow, Horace Greeley, Clara Barton, Ulysses S. Grant, and P. T. Barnum. Other signers included New York and Washington clergymen and journalists, as well as a few politicians and government officials.
On March 1, 1865, Senator Henry Wilson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs and the Militia, introduced what he called “a little bill to which there can be no objection.” Wilson’s bill to “incorporate a National Military and Naval Asylum for the relief of the totally disabled officers and men of the volunteer forces of the United States,” passed on March 3, 1865, with no debate. The legislation incorporated the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers and listed one hundred prominent citizens on the asylum’s board of managers. The large number of managers proved unwieldy, and on March 21, 1866, Congress passed new legislation lowering the number of members to twelve.
With this change, the board of managers got right to work looking for suitable branch locations for the new soldiers’ asylum. One site considered for the new veterans institution was Point Lookout, Maryland. After little debate the location was rejected. The managers felt that the site of the former Confederate prisoner-of-war camp was not a fitting place to honor their disabled Civil War veterans. Soon the board focused on a bankrupt resort located at Togus Springs, Maine, located five miles outside Augusta.
The first asylum opened in Togus Springs in 1866 as the Eastern Branch. The next year, two more asylums opened, the Central Branch in Dayton, Ohio, and the Northwestern Branch in Wood, Wisconsin, near Milwaukee. Eventually other branches followed: the Southern Branch in Hampton, Virginia; the Western Branch at Leavenworth, Kansas; the Pacific Branch at Sawtelle, California, near Los Angeles; the Marion Branch in Indiana; the Danville Branch in Illinois; the Mountain Branch at Johnson City, Tennessee; the Battle Mountain Sanitarium at Hot Springs, South Dakota; the Bath Branch in New York; the Roseburg Branch in Oregon; the St. Petersburg Home in Florida; the Biloxi Home in Mississippi; and the Tuskegee Home in Alabama.
Men were issued blue uniforms and loosely followed army regulations. Upon admission, each veteran was given a member number and assigned to a company. A company sergeant oversaw each company. The days were regulated with bugle calls waking the men in the morning, calling them to the dining hall, and putting them to sleep at night.
The role and operation of the asylum changed over time. In an effort to present their establishment as more of a home and less of a large bureaucratic institution, Congress changed the name of the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers to the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in 1873. Initially the asylum was merely a shelter for disabled Civil War veterans. The branch asylums lacked any organized form of recreation and leisure activities. Over time, the homes came to offer recreational activities and libraries, and churches were built. According to the 1900 board of manager’s annual report, several homes maintained theaters, libraries, and billiard halls. At some of the homes, members engaged in activities such as dominoes, checkers, chess, backgammon, cards, boating, skating, pool, and croquet. At the homes’ theaters, veterans were entertained with concerts, comedies, melodramas, musicals, vaudeville, and lectures. Of the eight homes run in 1900, six had suitable chapels, and all eight held Protestant and Catholic services.
Admission to the soldiers’ homes was voluntary. Members could request admission to any home they chose and could request to be discharged as well. Sometimes veterans took advantage of this provision and entered and exited the home several times upon their own request. If a member was leaving for the weekend or a short period of time, the home issued a pass. Anyone who was late coming back from leave or gone without permission was considered absent without leave, a punishable offense. Members referred to their extra work duty punishments as “working on the dump.” Each home maintained a guardhouse where guards stopped and checked visitors and confirmed that members had authorized passes.
Other war veterans were eventually included in the membership as well. It wasn’t long before the branches became tourist attractions. Several of the homes had grand gardens where visitors came for weekend picnics. Others came to see many of the one-armed and one-legged veterans parading around in their blue uniforms. The Northwestern Branch boasted that it attracted 40,000 visitors in 1877. The Central Branch became so popular to tourists that the home ran a hotel for guests. By 1875, more than 100,000 people visited the home. During the next decade, that branch was attracting more than 150,000 visitors annually.
From 1866 to November 1874, the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers was supported entirely by funds provided by fines and forfeitures imposed by court-martial and forfeitures on account of desertions from the army as provided for in the act of March 21, 1866. From 1875 to 1931, Congress made annual appropriations for the National Home as it did for other government institutions.
From 1866 to 1890, when pension laws were eased so that nearly every Union soldier was eligible for a pension, approximately one-third of the residents of the National Home received federal pensions. Historian Patrick J. Kelly concluded in Creating a National Home that the reason for this figure is because home managers routinely admitted indigent veterans, especially older men, who were unable to prove their disabilities were service related. After 1890, veterans were eligible for service pensions as opposed to pensions keyed to service-related disabilities. Although legislation initially incorporating the National Asylum gave the board of managers the authority to confiscate pensions of residents without dependants, the board did not exercise this option. In the early 1880s, Congress amended the act and eliminated the provision concerning the confiscation of pensions. It was up to individual home members to send any of their pension money to their wives or children. In 1899 Congress required home residents receiving pensions to apportion one-half of their payments to surviving wives or dependant children.
According to the annual report for 1900, the National Home cared for 102,722 veterans between 1866 and June 30, 1900, at a cost of just over fifty million dollars. Of the 29,578 veterans cared for in 1900, 29,051 were Civil War veterans, and 527 others served during the Mexican War and other conflicts. African Americans were welcomed at the National Home. Veterans who served in the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War were afforded the same privileges of admission as white veterans. By 1899 only 2.5 percent (669) of the veterans assisted in the National Home were African Americans. This number is low considering that nearly 10 percent of soldiers who served in the Union Army during the Civil War were black. Black members lived in segregated quarters and ate their meals at separate tables.
After 1928, home benefits were extended to women. The National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers was taken over by the Veterans Administration in 1930 as part of the establishment of the VA. The branch cemeteries were also taken over by the VA and eventually became national cemeteries. By June 30, 1932, the population at the National Home was 22,503, comprising 708 Civil War veterans, 5,572 Spanish-American War veterans, and 16,223 World War I veterans.
The place to begin researching any Civil War Union veteran is the compiled military service record. The pension file – if the veteran, widow, or any dependants either applied for or received a pension – is another good source of information on the veteran. If you are lucky, you will find additional records that relate to the veteran’s time at a soldiers’ home in his pension file. Most of the information on Wilfred Plante, for example, was gleaned from his pension file. If the veteran lived in a soldier’s home run by the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, the Historical Registers described below are a must for research. In addition, there is limited information in Record Group 92, Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, entry 591, Applications for Headstones for Soldiers Buried at Soldiers’ Home, 1909 – 1923. This small series is arranged by state and home. Most likely this series will duplicate information already found in the Historical Register.
A record of veterans admitted to the homes is contained in “Historical Registers” that were maintained at the various branches. These registers are now at the National Archives in Record Group 15, Records of the Veterans Administration. A home number was assigned to each individual upon admission. The member retained his original number even if he was discharged and was later readmitted to the branch.
Each page of the register is divided into four sections: military history, domestic history, home history, and general remarks. The veteran’s military history gives the time and place of each enlistment, rank, company, regiment, time and place of discharge, reason for discharge, and nature of disabilities when admitted to the home. The domestic history provides information about the veteran such as birthplace, age, height, various physical features, religion, occupation, residence, marital status, and name and address of nearest relative. The home history provides the rate of pension, date or dates of admission, conditions of readmission, date of discharge, cause of discharge, date and cause of death, and place of burial. General remarks contain information about papers relating to the veteran, such as admission papers, army discharge certificate, and pension certificate. Information was also entered concerning money and personal effects if the member died while in residence at the branch.
The home registers have been reproduced as National Archives Microfilm Publication M1749, Historical Registers of National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866 – 1938. The microfilm is available at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., and many of the National Archives regional facilities. Some of the regional sites have all of the microfilm rolls covered under M1749, while others maintain only the rolls for the soldiers’ home that operated in their geographic region. For example, the Waltham, Massachusetts, facility holds only the rolls relating to the Eastern Branch of the National Soldiers Home in Togus, Maine. In addition to the Historical Registers, some other records relating to the soldiers’ homes have also been reproduced as part of M1749. The microfilm publication also contains registers of death for Bath and Roseburg; funeral records for Bath and Danville; and burial registers and hospital registers for Togus. Please note that the National Archives does not have Historical Registers for the St. Petersburg, Biloxi, or Tuskegee homes.
The regional archives maintain only a select number of member case files for the homes that operated in their regions. The majority of the original case files for individual members were disposed of decades ago. Addresses and telephone numbers for National Archives regional facilities are printed at the end of this issue of Prologue. If you are interested in learning more about what life was like at the homes, consult the annual reports of the board of managers. These published sources can be found in the United States Congressional Serial Set available at the National Archives library in Washington, D.C. The serial set should also be available at a Government Depository Library in your area.
If you are interested in researching veterans at the U.S. Soldiers Home in Washington, D.C., or the Naval Home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, you can consult Record Group 231, Records of the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home, and Record Group 181, Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments. For more information on RG 231, contact the Old Military and Civil Records unit of the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Records in RG 181 relating to the Naval Home are located at the National Archives Mid Atlantic Region in Philadelphia. If you are interested in state-run homes (including Confederate soldiers homes and a variety of widows’ and orphans’ homes), contact the state archives for the state in which the home operated.
For more information on individual veterans who were residents in the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, write to Old Military and Civil Records, National Archives and Records Administration, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20408, or contact us online
Trevor K. Plante is a reference archivist in the Old Military and Civil Records unit at the National Archives and Records Administration who specializes in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century military records. He is an active lecturer at the National Archives and frequent contributor to Prologue’s Genealogy Notes.
Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
Veterans Affairs National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers
Western BranchLeavenworth, Kansas
In 1884, the Western Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (now the Dwight D. Eisenhower VA Medical Center) in Leavenworth, Kansas, became the first National Home branch west of the Mississippi River. In the same year, Congress increased eligibility for the National Home branches to include those veterans with non-service related disabilities. As a result, the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers had an immediate 12% increase in membership prompting construction of the Western and Pacific Branches to accommodate more veterans. The historic core of the Western Branch is situated along a ridge line overlooking the Missouri River. The Picturesque style park-like campus has 58 historic buildings spread out on the 214 acre campus. The National Cemetery is located atop a hill on the eastern edge of the campus.In 1883, the Grand Army of the Republic began lobbying for a branch in the West, and in 1884, Congress appropriated money for the Western Branch to serve veterans in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Nebraska. Competition emerged among States and localities to be the site for the new branch. The City of Leavenworth agreed to donate $50,000 and use park bonds to purchase and donate land for the branch. The Board of Managers liked the city’s offer and the proximity of the site to the U.S. Army’s Fort Leavenworth. Even though the city promised $50,000, it did not have the money and the State legislature would not help fund the facility. The Board of Managers allowed the city to pay over a period of 10 years. Construction began at the branch in 1885 using bricks made from clay found on the site for many of the original buildings.
Admitted in the summer of 1885, the first member of the branch was Alexander Maines, formerly Private, Company A, First Rhode Island Light Artillery. He was a transfer from the Eastern Branch with disabilities recorded as rheumatism, fever, and ague. The Western Branch provided shelter, education, training, employment and medical care to veterans. Members could work and learn new skills, while they were being rehabilitated. By 1893, the Western Branch had carpenter, blacksmith, engineer, tin, paint, print, shoe, soap, and tailor shops, and a truck farming producing fruit and vegetables. Shops for baking, upholstering, and horseshoeing were added by 1900. Members were employed as laborers, waiters, clerks, cooks, carpenters, and guards.
Prominent landscape architect Horace William Shaler Cleveland designed the campus in the Picturesque style with curving tree-lined roads, an informal arrangement of buildings, and large open areas with groups of trees and shrubs. Cleveland believed in working in harmony with the natural landscape, laying out the campus to complement the rolling topography of the site.
During this first building phase from 1884 to 1890, contractor James A. McGonigle constructed 17 buildings. The central point of the Western Branch was the general mess hall, Franklin Hall (Building 19). The Romanesque Revival two story building has a two story porch supported by iron pipes, which is now enclosed by fiberglass panels. To the northeast and directly south of Franklin Hall is a series of barracks (Buildings 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 14) in the Georgian Colonial Revival style placed on the ridge so veterans could see Missouri River to east and the rising hills to the west. The barracks at the top of ridge also take advantage of cooling summer breezes. Twelve of the orignal 13 barracks still stand. One was lost in a fire in the 1950’s.
Scattered throughout the campus are staff quarters, mainly in the Queen Anne style. Many of the staff homes line the banks of Lake Jeannette at the southern end of campus. The Governor’s Quarter (Building 42) was moved in 1930 to make room for the new hospital.
North of the barracks is the Queen Anne style Ward Memorial Hall (Building 29) of 1888 that once held the branches’ administration offices and the Hancock Library. The lower level has a barber shop and billiard room. Prominent Kansas City architects, Louis Singleton Curtis and Frederick C. Gunn, designed the ornate Late Gothic Revival Chapel (Building 66), referred to as the Immanuel Church, which dates from 1893. The two story brick and sandstone building has two story stained glass windows and gargoyles on the bell tower. Located south of the barracks near the staff quarters, the chapel has two separate sanctuaries for the Protestant and Catholic congregations at the branch.
The Chateauesque style recreation hall (Building 64) is set into the steeply sloping hill, downhill from the original barracks. It is referred to as the “Dugout” because its lower story has an open arcaded front used as recreational space. This was once the site of the beer hall. The branch constructed Nurses’ Quarters (Building 34) in 1898 to house the first women who worked at the Western Branch. In 1902, a new French Eclectic and Italian Renaissance design Administration Building (Building 21) became the home of the facility’s administrative offices. Additional staff quarters (Buildings 41, 44, 45, 47, and 48) date from between 1900 and 1910. This phase of construction at the Western Branch continued until the 1910s when the population began declining because of the advancing age of the Civil War veterans. The Western Branch was a popular place to visit for tourists by the turn of the 20th century and once had a two-story Chateauesque brick hotel for visitors with a theater and store.
After World War I, the population of the branch increased. The old hospital was demolished following construction of a new multi-level hospital complex (Building 89) in 1930. The majority of the facilities that the VA uses today are in the northwestern corner of the campus and date from between the 1970s and the 1990s.
Established in 1886, the cemetery is to the west of the buildings on campus separated by a sloping grade. Horace William Shaler Cleveland designed the cemetery in the park-like cemetery layout that was popular in late 19th century. Erected in 1919, an obelisk at the site honors the veterans. A cemetery rest house dates from 1921.
An Enhanced Use Lease Program with Pioneer Group, a private development company, provided for building rehabilitation in 2005. The company has rehabilitated seven staff quarters into 1-2 bedroom apartments for the veterans in a transitional program at the facility.