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Guide to the Central National Soldiers' Home
Guide to the Central National Home - Section One






THE SOLDIERS' HOME faces east, and is exactly straight with the world."  As the visitor approaches it from the direction of Dayton he sees in the distance its noble buildings crowning the hill on which they stand. It is certainly "beautiful for situation." As you approach the main entrance you pass the Big Lake, a lovely artificial sheet of water covering eleven acres, in the extreme eastern part of the Home. West of it is a romantic combination of three smaller connected lakes.  North of them is the post-office and green-houses, and a little to the west are the famous flower gardens, Martindale Conservatory, and Grotto. Our full-page engravings entitled "The National Soldiers' Home from the East" give a good idea of the sight that meets the eyes at the top of the slope. To the left are the residences of the Governor and Treasurer, then the front view of the Stand-pipe, Barracks, Headquarters, Memorial Hall, Church, Hotel, Battery, Property Building, and Hospital. Further to the right (not in the picture) rises the Cemetery.

"Silent, and lonely, and spectral, and still," crowned with its noble Monument. Such is the sight that greets the visitor as he approaches the Soldiers ‘ Home and closer inspection but increases his admiration.




If you wish to drive, go out National Home Avenue till you reach the Home. Another route for driving is Germantown Street west to Eaton Avenue, which leads to the Home. But the usual way is to take the Home Avenue steam cars from the Union Depot, or one of the following well-known routes.—


Dayton and Soldiers' Home R. R., Red Line (Electric).


To take this route, enter any Fifth Street car going west. This will carry you over the Miami River into Miami City (on the West Side) past Woodhull's Dayton Buggy Works, the Seventh District School, and the Fourth Presbyterian Church, until at King Street you turn south and soon arrive at the Fifth Street car stables. Here you change to the electric car, which carries you rapidly southwest on National Home Avenue. In a few minutes you arrive at Lakeside Park and the Soldiers' Home grounds. Many prefer this line for comfort and speed.


The White Line Electric Road.


The White Line starts at Riverdale, north of the Miami River, at the head of Main Street, and runs south, crossing the bridge, past the Soldiers' Monument and the Grand Opera House.  It then follows Main Street right through the center of the business portion of the city, at Third Street turning west to Ludlow. This it follows past the Union Depot, till it reaches Washington Street.  Here the White Line turns west, and crossing the river follows Washington till it strikes Germantown Street. Its course is then southwest to the Soldiers' Home, at whose boundary it makes a loop around the Big Lake. The White Line has a double track on its entire route.  It is the only direct street car line to the Home without change. Fare from any part of the city to the Home, five cents.




The policy adopted by our Government immediately after the late War, of providing homes for its disabled defenders, can scarcely be criticised by a patriot. They freely risked life and limb to protect the Nation, and it seems but simple justice for the Nation to care for them when unable to care for themselves.

Even old Egypt, crushed by despotism and permeated by caste, settled her worn out soldiers in military colonies, giving to every man a little farm. France Has her Hotel des Invalides at Paris.  England has her Chelsea Asylum for veteran soldiers, and her magnificent Greenwich Hospital for disabled seamen. It was left to America to exhibit to the nations the most complete system of Soldiers' Homes ever seen in this warring world.

At the close of the War, hospitals and soldiers' homes were established in most of the loyal States. But soon it was seen to be necessary to create national homes on a permanent basis.  To carry this purpose into effect an act of Congress was passed March 31, 1865, and a Board of Managers appointed. The organization has been continued ever since.  The act of Congress authorized the Board to establish one or more homes, and under it the Central Home was established near Dayton, Ohio, the Eastern Branch near Augusta, Maine, and the Northwestern Branch at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Subsequently Homes have been located at Hampton, Virginia, Leavenworth, Kansas, Santa Monica, California, and Marion, Indiana. So that in all the Board of Managers now control seven Homes containing about 13,000 inmates, whose maintenance costs annually over $1,800,000.

The object had in view from the beginning was to provide all the possible comforts of a home—chapels for religious services, halls for concerts, lectures, and other amusements, hospitals with experienced surgeons and nurses, libraries and reading rooms, post-offices and telegraph offices, stores and workshops. Various employments are carried on and encouraged at the Home, thus fostering a sense of manly independence among the members.  Care has been taken to impress upon their minds that they are not entering an almshouse, but a bona fide home where their own efforts for subsistence are merely supplemented by the Congress of the United States.

One of the early incidents of the Central Home was the transfer of the Ohio Soldiers' Home to the Board of Trustees of National Homes. This took place with appropriate ceremonies March 26, 1867. But the site of the State institution was believed to be unhealthy and it was determined to change the location. Several places wanted the new Home, but when the city of Dayton pointed to a magnificent site three miles from her boundaries and donated $20,000 toward its purchase, Dayton was chosen, in the summer of 1867. Four hundred acres were originally purchased (to which about two hundred and forty have since been added) at a cost of $46,800.

Vigorous measures were taken to get the necessary buildings ready for the disabled soldiers, who came in faster than accommodation could be prepared for them.  Barracks were rapidly constructed from the lumber composing the temporary buildings at Camp Chase. Soon six hundred disabled veterans were comfortably accommodated. An old barn was converted into a dining-room. It became too small, and so a wing was added. Finally the barn was rejected and the present commodious dining-hall took its place. During the first winter seven hundred and fifty soldiers were cared for; the second winter, one thousand; the third winter, thirteen hundred; and the fourth, sixteen hundred.

During the succeeding years the institution has necessarily been growing, as the increasing age of the veterans of the War makes it necessary for more of them to seek its aid. It was estimated by a committee of the National House of Representatives in 1884, that "the maximum number of beneficiaries of the Homes will not be reached earlier than 1895." During the year ending June 30, 1890, the total number of men connected with the Central Home was 6,435—an army as large as Washington had at Valley Forge, and much more comfortable than his was!

But to return to the domain of history.—The Central Home has had five governors. The first was Major E. E. Tracy, appointed in 1867. He was succeeded by General T. Ingraham, who in turn was followed by Colonel E F. Brown, who assumed command January 1, 1869.  Colonel Brown remained in charge until October 1, 1880, when he was appointed Inspector-General of the National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, being succeeded as Governor by General M. R. Patrick. Governor Patrick retained this position until his death, which occurred July 27, 1888.

After the death of General Patrick, Colonel Jerome B. Thomas, who had served as Treasurer and second officer of the Home since its inception, was appointed Governor.




The Board consists of fourteen members. They are :—

The President of the U. S., the Chief Justice, the Secretary of War, ex-officiis.

General William B Franklin, President, Connecticut.

General William J. Sewell, First Vice-President, New Jersey.

General Martin T. McMahon, Secretary, New York City.

General John C. Black, Illinois.

General Francis Fessenden, Maine.

Major George W. Steele, Indiana.

Colonel John L Mitchell, Wisconsin.

General James Barnett, Ohio.

General A. L Pearson, Pennsylvania.

Major E. N. Morrill, Kansas.

Major George H. Bonebrake, California.




Governor, Colonel J. B Thomas.

Treasurer, Major Milton McCoy.

Secretary, Major M. F. Watson.

Commissary of Subsistence and Quartermaster, Captain James C. Michie.

Adjutant, Major Carl Berlin.

Surgeon, Dr. F. H. Patton.

Chaplain, Rev. J. W. Lerch.

Matron, Mrs. E. L. Miller.

First Assistant Surgeon, Dr. William H. Negley.

Second Assistant Surgeon, Dr. Starling Wilcox.




Adjutant's Office— Headquarters, New York Avenue.

Adjutant's Quarters—West of Property Building.

Amusement Hall— Kentucky Avenue.

Bakery (see Dining Hall)—New Jersey Avenue.

Bath house—Iowa Avenue.

Barracks No 1—Fronting New York Avenue.

Barracks No. 2—Fronting New York Avenue.

Barracks No.3—Fronting New York Avenue.

Barracks No. 4—Fronting New York Avenue.

Barracks No. 5—Fronting New York Avenue.

Barracks No. 6—Fronting New York Avenue.

Barracks No. 7—New Jersey Avenue.

Barracks No. 8—New Jersey Avenue.

Barracks No. 10—Corner New Jersey and Iowa Avenues.

Barracks No. 12—Over Dining Hall.

Barracks No. 14—Fronting Kentucky Avenue.

Barracks No. 15—Fronting Kentucky Avenue.

Barracks No. 16—Fronting New Jersey Avenue.

Barracks No. 17—Fronting Kentucky Avenue.

Barracks No. 27—Fronting Kentucky Avenue.

Barracks No. 29—Fronting Kentucky Avenue.

Barracks No. 18— Fronting Maine Avenue.

Barracks No. 19—Fronting Maine Avenue.

Barracks No. 20—Fronting Maine Avenue.

Barracks No, 21—Fronting Maine Avenue.

Barracks No. 22—Fronting Maine Avenue.

Barracks No. 23— Fronting Maine Avenue.

Barracks No. 24—Fronting Maine Avenue.

Barracks No. 25—Fronting Maine Avenue.

Barracks No. 35— Fronting Maine Avenue.

Barracks No. 26—Fronting Iowa Avenue.

Barracks No. 28—Fronting Iowa Avenue.

Barracks No. 30—Fronting Iowa Avenue.

Barracks No. 31—Fronting Iowa Avenue.

Barracks No. 32—Fronting Iowa Avenue.

Barracks No. 33—Fronting Iowa Avenue.

Boiler House (Central)—West of Church.

Bookbindery—Fronting Vermont Avenue.

Cemetery—Northwest of Hospital, Michigan and Wisconsin Avenues.

Chaplain's Quarters—Fronting Connecticut Avenue.

Church—Approached from Pennsylvania and New Hampshire Avenues.

Commissary of Subsistence—Property Building.

Conservatories—Indiana Avenue.

Dairy—West of Cemetery.

Deer Park— South of Campus,

Dining Hall—Center of Camp. New Jersey Avenue.

Gas Works—Southwest of Hospital, Maine Avenue.

Governor s Office— Headquarters Building, New York Avenue.

Home Store— Corner Ohio and Kentucky Avenues.

Hospital— North end of Camp, Ohio Avenue.

Hotel—East of Flag Staff, Minnesota Avenue.

Kitchen (see Dining Hall).

Laundry—West end of Iowa Avenue.

Library—West of Memorial Hall.

Machine and Carpenter Shops— South of Laundry.

Memorial Hall—North of Headquarters.

Monument (see Cemetery),

Post-office—At the East entrance.

Property Building—Maine Avenue, south of Hospital.

Pump House (Main)—South of Lakes.

Reading Room—In Library.

Secretary's Office— Headquarters Building.

Secretary's Quarters— South of Stand pipe.

Stand-Pipe—Iowa Avenue, near Maine.

Stables.—West end of Kentucky Avenue.

Stone Quarry—South of Deer Park, Massachusetts Avenue.

Surgeon's Quarters—East of Hospital, Ohio Avenue.

Tailor Shop—ln Property Building.

Treasurer's Office—Headquarters Building.

Treasurer's Quarters—West of Governor's Quarters.

Wards for the Blind—Lower floors of Barracks Nos. 14 and 15.


How to Find a Member of the Home.


Go to the Adjutant's office and ask in what company or barrack your friend is located, giving his name, and if you can, his company and regiment.  Remember that there are a great many men at the Home, and even so uncommon a name as "John Smith" is sometimes duplicated. The writer once asked the Adjutant where he could find a man named Meyer, being unable to give further information about him. The polite officer then handed him a book in which there were whole pages of Meyers, Mayers, Myers, and 0' Myers, and he was directed to take his choice.

But if you can give the definite information mentioned above, you will be informed that your friend is in Barrack No. so and so. At the barrack indicated the sergeant in charge will give all needed information.

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