History of the National Home for Disabled Soldiers
Industrial Resources of the Home

REPAIRING-SHOPS

 

               Ten or twelve men are constantly employed in repairing for the inmates. Our fair readers, we trust, will no longer doubt the ability of the masculine gender to repair the loss of the impressible button, and to demonstrate that "a stitch in time saves nine." A jolly batch of menders and patchers are industriously engaged all hours of the day in repairing socks, shirts, drawers, pants, etc.

 

THE INDUSTRIAL RESOURCES OF THE HOME.

 

               In addition to all this work in shops, etc., the order of the Board that all service and labor in and about the homes shall, as far as possible, be performed by disabled soldiers, has been strictly complied with; and over one thousand men are employed in that way. The compensation paid to inmates at the several branches has ranged from $5 to $25 per month. During the year there were employed in the homes, including workshops, farms, gardens, etc.

 

At the Central, 905 inmates, to whom was paid.... $56,204 17

At the North-western, 355 inmates, to whom was paid 22,347 82

At the Eastern, 399 inmates, to whom was paid... 36,046 22

At the Southern, 266 inmates, to whom was paid 14,123 60

 

making a total of one thousand nine hundred and twenty five disabled soldiers so employed during the year, to whom was paid the sum of $128,721.81.

               Much of this money (as has been seen) is returned to the homes in shop and farm products ; and a considerable portion is sent by those who earn it to dependent wives and children, or left with the treasurer and put at interest for the benefit of the inmates, until a sufficient amount has been realized to enable them to buy a home or engage in some outside business.

 

WORKSHOPS.

 

               The shops at the Central Home, at Dayton, are the oldest and largest, and have been the most successful. They employed one thousand and five hundred men last year, the total product of whose labor was $70,048.76, and net profit of the same $20,708.62. The trades carried on were cigar-making, at which thirty-nine men were employed, who manufactured seven hundred and seventy-two thousand, worth $17,611.12, on which there was a profit of $4,125.19 ; knitting, by which one thousand five hundred and thirty dozen pairs of stockings, worth $7,101.75, were made, with a profit of 1994.94; printing all the work of the Managers and the other branches is done at this office, and at a great saving to the National Home; also book-binding, blacksmithing, broom-making, coopering, harness-making, painting, shoe-making, soap- making, tailoring, tin-smithing, upholstering, wagon-making, and wire-working. Besides, all the carpenter- work, painting, stone-work, tin-work, and part of the plastering and iron-work of the half dozen new buildings erected during the year have been done by inmates. They have also done their own plumbing and gas-fitting; engineered, repaired, and run their four steam-engines; made their own gas, baked their own bread, butchered their own cattle, and have done all the cooking and washing for two thousand and two hundred men in actual attendance.

               From the treasurer's report for the year 1874 we learn that the construction and repair accounts amounted to $73,657.11. The manufacturers' account for the same year shows the sum of $54,215.73.

               In connection with the workshops we may notice one of the evidences of the ingenuity of the workmen. Mr. Thomas Hinton has constructed a miniature steam-engine entirely of brass, which is very creditable as a specimen of his mechanical skill. The engine is in full running order, with all the attachments belonging to a first-class machine, and is at present supplied with steam from a steam-pipe attached to it. His intention is to construct a boiler and all the necessary fixtures complete. It is on exhibition at the water-works engine-house near the lake, and attracts much attention from those interested in mechanics. The various mechanical departments present a scene of active, busy life. The several workshops are built in a regular line, each branch of business being designated with an appropriate sign-board. Mr. D. F. Giddinger is superintendent of buildings; and the carpenter, cabinet-maker, wagon-maker, and tin-shop, and all the work performed in these departments, are under his immediate supervision.

 

SAW-MILL AND ENGINE-HOUSE.

 

               A forty-horse-power engine runs the machinery in the laundry, and in the several mechanical departments, besides supplying steam for heating some of the buildings. The saw-mill is well supplied with machinery, having scroll, rip, and crosscut saws, surface-plane, matching-machine, turning-lathes, thirty-two-inch wood-saw for sawing fire-wood, iron-lathe and drill, and a machine for cutting cattle-feed.

 

CABINET-MAKER SHOP.

 

               The finest description of cabinet-work is executed here; such as furniture for officers' quarters, bed-steads, wardrobes, tables, chairs, desks, commodes, etc., and last of all, coffins for the dead. In the cabinet-maker shop is an ingenious machine known as a bolt-carver, paneler, irregular molding and dove-tailing machine, the whole presenting a combination of ingenuity and simplicity. Its chief merit consists in an arrangement so simple that not five minutes' time is required, or the removal of more than two bolts necessary, to effect the most radical change in this machine.

The amount and variety of work accomplished is truly surprising. The number of cabinet-makers and carpenters usually employed in the Home is from forty to fifty.

 

THE WAGON-SHOP.

 

               Here all the rolling-stock of the farm is made and repaired, such as wagons, carts, wheelbarrows, etc. The iron-work for these is done in the adjoining blacksmith-shop. Over this is the

 

UPHOLSTER-SHOP

               Where hair mattresses, etc., are made.

 

THE TIN-SHOP

 

               Is a useful and indispensable branch of the Home institution. Cups, basins, buckets, plates, pans, and every description of tin-ware, are made here, which for superiority of workmanship and excellence of finish can not be surpassed by any work outside of the Home. Following in regular order are the plumber and gas-fitter, and paint and machine shops, all constructed for the purposes for which they are used, and provided with a full complement of tools and machinery of the latest improved construction. Not far from there is the machine-shop. The mechanical skill displayed by the workmen in these departments is highly creditable.

 

THE SHOE-SHOP.

 

               A large force of hands are employed in this department, in repairing shoes for the inmates. Boots and shoes are also made to order for such of the inmates as may desire a finer description of work than that allowed them under the regulations of the Home. The work in style and finish is fully equal to any city-made work. The shoe-shop is under the superintendence of Mr. John Daugherty, to whom much credit is due for the manner in which it is conducted.

 

THE TAILOR-SHOP.

 

               If dress makes the man the tailors of the Soldiers' Home are fully equal to the task of doing it. The tailor-shop is a model of excellence in its way. It is fitted up with all the appurtenances of a city establishment, and the good taste displayed in its arrangements reflects the highest credit upon the foreman, Mr. B. Vogedes. Here ten or more skillful workmen are employed making up garments to order for the officers and inmates of the Home. The materials from which these garments are made are usually of good quality, while in fit and finish they will fully compare with any made in the city. Goods are here made only to individual order and paid for accordingly from the personal resources of the parties giving the order. No work is done for persons outside of the Home, the force being only sufficient to meet the requirements of the institution.

 

BROOM-FACTORY.

 

               A large force is employed in the production of brooms. A great quantity is required for the Home use, but the resources of the factory are such as to enable it to supply a large outside demand.

 

CIGAR MANUFACTORY.

 

               None but soldiers are allowed to work here; and all those in the shop, except one, learned the business here. All have been wounded, or are otherwise disabled, and quite a large number have lost a leg. In addition to their pensions they have all they can earn, and are thus in comfortable circumstances. The shop turns out from seventy to eighty thousand cigars per month, the highest number ever r reached being a hundred thousand. The small cigar-boxes are also made at the Home carpenter-shop some of cedar and some of poplar, stained in imitation of cedar; and thus, with a single exception of the fancy-pictured labels, every part of the business is done here. Last year they produced ten thousand two hundred and fifty-four pounds of the finest Ohio tobacco on the Home farm. Most of the balance of their material is imported from Connecticut. That produced on the farm is from Havana seed, which must be got fresh from Cuba every few years to avoid deterioration, as this region is not strictly the native land of tobacco. This department ranks as the most successful of the various industries established at the Home; and this is the second manufactory in work done in this revenue district.

 

STOCKING MANUFACTORY

 

               As in most of the work-rooms, the walls are almost covered with pictures, indicating quite a love of the artistic in the veterans. Twenty-one machines are rigged for running, and at most of them sit workers, all disabled veterans. The foreman of this establishment, Private Joseph Barclay, is a lineal descendant of George Barclay, of early Quaker memory. The family kept the faith even to his day, but he departed therefrom sufficiently to enlist in the third Pennsylvania artillery, where he earned wounds and glory which in due time sent him here. The men in this shop work hard and steadily, eleven hours being their regular day's work. As in all other shops, they are entitled to all they earn working by the piece, and make very handsome wages. Besides supplying all the hose needed at the Home, they ship large quantities. Their work is of superior quality, and commands a ready sale. This manufactory has been in operation three years, and now turns out three hundred dozen pairs of socks per month. It is too often the case that when men are in a position to be cared for they soon lose ambition, and become more unwilling to help themselves in the same proportion as they are helped. But it is gratifying to observe that all or nearly all of those inmates of the Home who can do anything are striving to improve their condition; and it frequently happens that men who come here almost out of heart get a good rest, take up some new trade suitable to their disability, learn it thoroughly, save some money, become self-supporting again, and return to the outer world with renewed hope and a fresh start.

 

THE BOOK-BINDERY.

 

               In the bindery there is but one solitary worker, Sergeant John White of company H, first New Jersey volunteers. His principal business is repairing books from the library. Some are so popular that they are read almost to pieces, and require new binding every six months. Next is the magazine business. The single copies coming during the year, or donated by outsiders, are neatly, or rather handsomely, bound. He and one or two assistants have bound two thousand volumes during the past year.

 

HARNESS-SHOP.

 

               Harness is here manufactured from the very best material, and of the finest description of workmanship.

 

THE PRINTING OFFICE.

 

               The "art preservative of all arts" is largely and creditably represented in this institution. At the breaking out of the war patriotic printers in all sections of the country laid down their composing sticks and took up arms in defense of their country's flag. Many were knocked into pi, never again to be reset, while others returned with bruised forms, but still capable of producing impressions. Many have since appeared in new editions, revised and corrected, and returned to the case. The life of a printer is of itself fraught with circumstances fully calculated to break down the strongest constitution. Subjected as he is to late and irregular hours, close application, and a confined atmosphere, added to these the hard usages of a soldier's life, have told fearfully upon the physical condition of many printers, and compelled them to seek their rights and privileges in the Soldiers' Home. The printing done at the Home is only sufficient to require the services of a few printers; but many, when they have recuperated, either learn new trades in the Home or go out for a short respite and work for a limited period. The Home printing office was established merely to meet the

necessary requirements of the institution, such as printing blank forms of reports, requisitions, furloughs, passes, general and special orders, programmes for entertainments, etc. A portion of the work for the Board of Managers of the other branches of the National Home is done here.

               The materials and appliances employed are mainly confined to the above specified purposes. These consist of a well-assorted font of type and a fine

Gordon press. The establishment presents the appearance of a well-ordered job-office, and the worthy superintendent, Mr. John D. Gibson, need not blush upon receiving visits from his brother typos, or others who may call upon him. The specimen-book of the office exhibits some highly creditable and artistic efforts, many of the programmes being done in gold and fancy colors.

The little book by Mrs. Mary Lowell Putnam entitled, "Guepin of Nantes," was printed here, and, though small in size, is not inferior to many city publications.

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