Illinois Soldiers' and Sailors' Home

Source: Quincy and Adams County History and Representative Men, D. Wilcox, Supervising Editor; Volume I; Chicago and New York: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1919

The noblest aftermath of the Civil war, viewed from the institutional standpoint, is the splendid home for the soldiers and sailors of Illinois, who are disabled either from old wounds, age or disease, for the activities of the business and professional world. Twenty years after the close of the War of the Rebellion that class had so increased in the state that the people decided the time had come to provide for them as honored wards of the commonwealth. On the 26th of June, 1885, the State Legislature passed an act for the establishment of the Illinois Soldiers' and Sailors' Home, and appointed the following as locating commissioners: William W. Berry, Adams County; F. E. Bryant, Bement; Monroe C. Crawford, Jonesboro; H. M. Hall, Olney; Henry T. Noble, Dixon; M. R. M. Wallace, Cook County; Fred O. White, Aurora. A number of cities in different parts of the state offered sites, and on December 2, 1885, the locating commissioners selected a tract of land in Riverside Township, Adams County, just north of the Quincy city limits. The original selection comprised 140 acres and since that time the management has added various purchases amounting to eighty-two acres. The first board of trustees appointed by Governor Oglesby after the grounds were located, December 11, 1885, were: Daniel Dustin, of Sycamore; T. L. Dickason, Danville, and J. G. Rowland, Quincy.

A few days afterward General Dustin was chosen president. The cottage system was adopted as the plan of construction, contracts for the various buildings were made in May, 1887, and the Home, as an institution, was opened for the reception of men March 3, 1887. By June, about forty had been received. Although the increase of the Comrades cared for at the Home was virtually steady for twenty years, it reached high-water mark in 1911, when there were 919 inmates. The wives of inmates have been received since August 17, 1908. The total number of men admitted to the Home up to April, 1918, was 14,416 and of women, 1,050. Interred in the Home Cemetery are 2,551 men and 66 women.

The general plan of the main buildings covers about twenty acres, the group embracing the administration building, a castellated massive four story building of Quincy limestone, erected at a cost of $50,000; the three story hospital, with a frontage of 262 feet and accommodations for about 430 patients; the annex, to accommodate 95 patients; and the Lippincott Memorial Hall, northwest of the headquarters building.

The last named, which was dedicated in December, 1900, is in some respects the most notable of the buildings composing the Home plant. Lippincott Hall is the center of the social and religious life of the Home; where religious exercises are held and entertainments given for the benefit of Home members. The building was erected and equipped in memory of Gen. Charles E. Lippincott, the first superintendent, and his wife, Emily Chandler Lippincott. It is located on what is known as the Parade ground and is built of brick.

Grouped around the main buildings are seventeen cottages, accommodating from forty to one hundred men. Each is a complete unit in itself with sleeping rooms opening upon outside verandas, sitting and dining rooms, and all the other accommodations of a household. All the food for the cottagers, hospital patients and administrative force is prepared in the general kitchen of headquarters building, and distributed to those outside in sealed metal carts. All the piping for heat, light and sewage disposal is carried in a tunnel half a mile long, with lateral connections to the various buildings comprising the central group. There are numerous minor buildings such as machine, blacksmith and tin shops, laundries, dairy houses, barns, green houses, paint shops, engine houses and coal houses.

The main boiler house is 60 by 100 feet, and contains a battery of nine boilers, which furnish steam for cooking, power and heat for all of the buildings except the hospital and its annex. Both the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad and the local electric line have tastefully constructed station buildings at opposite entrances to the Home grounds.

The dairy and piggery buildings are located north of the camp proper, and comprise a large cow barn and sheds to accommodate about 100 head of cattle, together with buildings for grain and hay storage and for the care of the swine, which average 150. The Home farm also supplies vegetables in season and for storage and canning purposes. The dairy, the live stock and the farm are the sources of much healthful exercise for not a few of the inmates, of a fresh and sanitary food supply and considerable financial support to the Home as a whole. The largest item of revenue, of course, upon which the Home depends for its maintenance, is the fund provided by Congress and drawn from the National Treasury consisting of $100 per inmate per annum. The average operating expenses of the Home per annum for the past decade have been about $250,000.

The Illinois Soldiers' and Sailors' Home has been remarkably fortunate in its choice of superintendents, and they have, as a rule, held office for a number of years. Charles E. Lippincott, the first incumbent assumed the position in December, 1886, about three months before the Home was opened for the reception of comrades. He died in office, September 11, 1887, Lippincott Hall being especially dedicated to his memory. J. G. Rowland served pro tem. for a short time in the early fall of that year and regularly, by appointment of the board of trustees, from October, 1887, to April, 1893. He was succeeded by B. P. McDaniel in 1894-95, by W. H. Kirkwood in 1895-97, William Somerville, 1897-1911; J. O. Anderson, 1911-13; John E. Andrew since May 20, 1913.

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