Marion Branch, NHDVS

Marion Branch, NHDVSMarion Branch, NHDVS

Location: 1700 E. 38th St., Marion, IN 46952 (Grant County, Indiana)

Installed 2011 Indiana Historical Bureau, VA Northern Indiana Health Care System, and Grant County Historical Society

ID#: 27.2011.1

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At the end of the Civil War, U. S. undertook care of disabled Union veterans in a system of homes1 known by 1873 as National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (NHDVS).2 The offer of free natural gas by Grant County residents and the efforts of local Congressman George W. Steele3 persuaded Congress to establish the Marion Branch of the NHDVS, July 23, 1888.4

Members had access to health care, training, work, and recreation. 5 In 1920, this Branch was converted into a neuropsychiatric hospital for World War I veterans;6 in 1930, consolidated within new Veterans Administration.7 As part of VA Northern Indiana Health Care System, facility continues to care for veterans. 8 Some original buildings and National Cemetery remain. 9

 

[1] The Civil War created an unprecedented number of disabled soldiers in need of care beyond that available through pensions or state homes. In response to this need, Congress established the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers on March 3, 1865. "An Act 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, March 3, 1865," The Statutes at Large of the U. S. A., December 1863 to December 1865 13 (Boston, 1866): 509, accessed February 16, 2011 at www.law.uc.edu; "Congress," New York Times, January 8, 1863, 4, accessed January 3, 2011 at Proquest Historical Newspapers; "Public Gratitude to Soldiers and Sailors - National Homes and Asylums," New York Times, December 8, 1867, 4, accessed January 3, 2011 at Proquest Historical Newspapers. It was the consensus among the general public and political leaders that the government had a responsibility to care for the many disabled Civil War veterans. Cities and states were already caring for their veterans. People considered this type of aid "justice" for those who had served their country as opposed to aid the general poor which was considered "charity."

[2] Congress changed the name to the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers on January 23, 1873 to avoid stigma associated with word asylum and to stress that this was indeed to be a home not an institution for the men. "An Act to Amend an Act Entitled 'An Act 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,' January 23, 1873," The Statutes at Large of the U. S. A., March 1871 to March 1873, 17 (Boston, 1873): 417 accessed at www.law.uc.edu; "Our Soldiers' Homes," New York Times, September 19, 1869, 4 accessed January 3, 2011 at Proquest Historical Newspapers; Patrick J. Kelly, Creating a National Home: Building the Veterans' Welfare State, 1860-1900 (Cambridge, Mass.: 1997), 91-98. The New York Times reported that the Board of Managers for the National Asylum stated that "the Asylums are neither hospitals nor almshouses, but homes." Patrick J. Kelly analyzed the name change by exploring the motivations of the Board to disassociate from the word "asylum," and its connection in the public mind to the poorhouse.

[3] "A Soldiers' Home," Marion Weekly Chronicle (Indiana), April 6, 1888, 8, Marion Public Library, Historical Files, photocopy; "House," Fort Wayne Weekly Gazette, May 17, 1888, accessed January 5, 2011 at NewspaperArchive.com; Logansport Daily Pharos, May 17, 1888, p. 1, accessed January 4, 2011 at NewspaperArchive.com; U.S. House,Annual Report of the Board of Managers of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1888, 50th Cong. 2nd Session, 1889 Misc. Doc. No. 35., 2-3, Indiana State Library, photocopy; "Marion's Good Luck,"Logansport Daily Pharos, July 24, 1888, accessed January 5, 2011 at NewspaperArchive.com; "Hip, Hip, Hurrah,"Marion Daily Chronicle (Indiana), July 23, 1888, 3, Marion Public Library, Historical Files, photocopy; "Steele for Governor,"Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel, August 1, 1888, accessed January 5, 2011 at NewspaperArchive.com; "Local News," Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel, August 1, 1888, accessed January 5, 2011 at NewspaperArchive.com; National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, The National Military Home (Marion, Indiana: n.d.), Indiana State Library, Pamphlet Collection, photocopy. The Marion Weekly Chronicle reported on April 6, 1888, that "about three weeks ago the idea was considered by some one here that an offer of free fuel and light congress might be induced to locate a Soldiers' Home at Marion. Accordingly papers were drawn securing a guarantee of free light and fuel and the names of about 100 citizens were signed to the same." The papers were forwarded to Steele who then drafted a bill "appropriating $250,000 for the purchase of 320 acres and the erection of buildings." According to the Fort Wayne Weekly Gazette, the House passed the bill on May 16, 1888. According to the Logansport Pharos the Senate passed the bill on July 13, 1888. The Marion Daily Chronicle printed a July 23, 1888 telegraph from George Steele to his wife: "You may tell the people that the President has signed the house bill locating the Soldiers' Home in Grant county [sic]." For more information on George Washington Steele see the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

[4] The Home was originally open to honorably discharged volunteer soldiers whose disability was a result of service to the Union in the Civil War; in 1884, eligibility was extended to any honorably discharged disabled soldier (injury did not have to be service-related). The Statutes at Large of the U. S. A., 13 (Boston, 1865): 509, accessed February 16, 2011 at www.law.uc.edu; "An Act to Authorize the Location of a Branch Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers and Sailors in Either the State of Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri or Nebraska, and for Other Purposes, July 5, 1884," U.S. Statutes at Large, 23 (Washington, D.C., 1885): 120-121, accessed June 12, 2012 at http://constitution.org/us/uslaw/sal/sal.htm .

As Civil War veterans aged, application to the NHDVS increased, and more Branch Homes were established across the country. In response, Congress established the Marion Branch, the seventh branch of the NHDVS, on July 23, 1888. "Public Gratitude to Soldiers and Sailors-National Homes and Asylums," New York Times, December 8, 1867, 4, accessed January 3, 2011 at Proquest Historical Newspapers; "The Home for Disabled Soldiers," New York Times, April 19, 1875, 5, at Proquest Historical Newspapers; U.S. House,Annual Report of the Board of Managers of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1888, 50 th Cong., 2nd Session, 1889, Misc. Doc. No. 35., 2-3, Indiana State Library, photocopy; "An Act to Authorize the Location of a Branch Home for Volunteer Disabled Soldiers in Grant County, Indiana, and for Other Purposes, Approved July 23, 1888,"U.S. Statutes at Large, December 1887 to March 1889, 25 (Washington, D.C., 1889): 341 at www.law.uc.edu. Congress authorized the Board of Managers to select a site in Grant County to create a new Branch Home (not yet called Marion Branch).

Selecting the Site in Grant County: Beginning in September 1888, a committee formed by the Board of Managers attempted to determine the exact site for the Branch Home in Grant County. In February 1889 the land for the site of the Marion Branch was ceded to the United States by the State of Indiana. Newspapers made the announcement in March. The April 1889 Proceedings of the Board describe earlier failed attempts to find sufficient gas and the site finally selected February 1889. The Board decided on a site of about 220 acres on a ridge running northeast to southeast , around 3 miles south of Marion, bordered by the Jonesboro Pike and the Mississinewa River. Laws of Indiana,1889 , 10, accessed January 5, 2011 at GoogleBooks; "The New Laws," Fort Wayne Sentinel, March 12, 1889, accessed January 5, 2011 at NewspaperArchive.com; "The New Laws, Logansport Daily Pharos (Indiana), March 13, 1889, accessed January 5, 2011 at NewspaperArchive.com; U.S. House, "Proceedings of the Board of Managers for the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, April 2, 1889,"Annual Report of the Board of Managers of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1889, 51st Cong., 1st Session, 1889, Misc. Doc. No. 77, 68-69, Indiana State Library, photocopy; "Building Site Chosen," Marion Weekly Chronicle (Indiana), May 17, 1889, 4, Marion Public Library, Historical Files, photocopy.

Work begins: On May 15, 1889, National Home officials arrived at Marion and selected locations for the various buildings. By the end of June, the Board of Managers reported that the drawings and estimates were completed and the contracts were made for the buildings. In July, $75,000 was appropriated for construction which began in September. Forty-one veterans arrived November 24, 1889 to help with construction. U.S. House, Annual Report of Marion Branch National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers for the Year ending June 30, 1890, 51st Cong., 2nd Session, 1889 Misc. Doc. No. 38, 161, Indiana State Library, photocopy; "Building Site Chosen,"Marion Weekly Chronicle, (Indiana), May 17, 1889, 4, Marion Public Library, Historical Files, photocopy; "Grant County Soldiers'' Home,"Marion Weekly Chronicle (Indiana), June 14, 1889, 7, Marion Public Library, Historical Files, photocopy; U.S. House,Annual Report of the Board of Managers of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1889, 51 st Cong., 1st Session, 1891, Misc. Doc. No. 77, 2, Indiana State Library, photocopy; U.S. House, "Proceedings of the Board of Managers for the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, July 9, 1889,"Annual Report of the Board of Managers of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1890, 51 st Cong., 2nd Session, Misc. Doc. No. 38, 41, 44, Indiana State Library, photocopy; U.S. House, "Proceedings of the Board of Managers for the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, September 18. 1889,"Annual Report of the Board of Managers of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1890, 51 st Cong. 2nd Session, 1891, Misc. Doc. No. 38, 48, Indiana State Library, photocopy.

Completion and Opening: Two barracks were complete by January 1890; the official opening took place in March 1890; by April, four barracks were complete, and by June six barracks were complete and three to four hundred men resided at the Marion Branch. U.S. House, "Proceedings of the Board of Managers for the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, January 21, 1890,"Annual Report of the Board of Managers of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1890, 51st Cong., 2nd Session, 1891, Misc. Doc. No. 38, 53, Indiana State Library, photocopy; U.S. House,Annual Report of Marion Branch National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers for the Year ending June 30, 1890, 51st Cong., 2 nd Session, 1891, Misc. Doc. No. 38, 8, 161, Indiana State Library, photocopy; Marion Branch Acting Governor A. F. Deveraux stated in the Annual Report of the Marion Branch that he assumed command as acting governor on March 15, 1890 and that "this may be regarded, I presume, as the date of officially opening this Branch, although individuals had been taken in for some time previous."

[5] J.C. Gobrecht, History of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (Dayton, OH: 1875), 33. Gobrecht, who was a veteran resident of the NHDVS, wrote: "The object had in view from the beginning was to provide all the comforts of a home, -- chapels for religious services, halls for concerts, lectures, and miscellaneous entertainment, hospitals, with experienced surgeons and nurses, libraries and reading rooms, amusement halls, school-rooms, post-offices, telegraph offices, stores, workshops, etc. Another laudable purpose of the Board of Managers was to afford to those desiring it ample facilities for preparing themselves for active employment. In the schools they may educate themselves for book-keepers, clerks, school-teachers, telegraph operators, etc., or in the workshops learn new trades suited to their particular disability, in the meantime insuring suitable compensation for labor performed in the institution. All these purposes have thus far been admirably carried out, thus inspiring the inmates with a sense of manly independence. Great care has been taken by the Board of Managers to impress upon the minds of those who may apply for admission the fact that they are not entering a hospital nor an almshouse, but a bona fide home…." See Annual Reports, 1888-1930, for more information on how residents were provided with health care, training and work opportunities, and recreation (accessed through Indiana State Library, copies held by IHB).

[6] The NHDVS officially opened to World War I veterans in 1917. These young men mainly needed hospital care, as opposed to a permanent home. "National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers," An Act Making appropriations to supply urgent deficiencies in appropriations for the fiscal year ending June thirtieth, nineteen hundred and eighteen, and prior fiscal years on account of war expenses and for other purposes October 6, 1917 , U.S. Statutes at Large 40, Part 1 (1919): 345, 368, at GoogleBooks. This act of Congress broadened the eligibility of the NHDVS to "all honorably discharged officers, soldiers, and sailors who served in the regular, volunteer, or other forces of the United States in any war in which the country has been or is engaged…."

By 1920, the veterans of the World War seeking medical attention overwhelmed the hospital facilities of the NHDVS; but the living facilities were emptying of Civil War veterans as they passed away. At the same time there was a push to separate the men by their maladies. In response to these needs, the Board decided in June 1920 to convert two NHDVS Branches into hospitals, one for tuberculosis and one for mental illness. In July 1920, the Board chose the Marion Branch to become a neuropsychiatric institution. U.S. House Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Hearing Before the Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations in Charge of Deficiency Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 1919 and Prior Fiscal Years, 66th Cong., 2nd Session, May 18, 1920, 200-202, at GoogleBooks; U.S. House Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Hearing Before the Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations in Charge of Sundry Civil Appropriations for 1922, 66th Cong., 3rd Session, Part 2, December 13, 1920, 1590, 1594-5, 1589, at GoogleBooks; " U.S. House SubCommittee of House Committee on Appropriations, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Hearing Before the Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations in Charge of Sundry Civil Appropriations for 1922, 66th Cong., 3rd Session, Part 2, December 14, 1920, 1637 at GoogleBooks. According to the December 13, 1920, Hearing Before the Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations in Charge of the Sundry Civil Appropriation Bill for 1922: as of November 30, 1920, NHDVS membership was about 11,800: about 1,200 of those from World War I; 3,000 from the Spanish-American War, and 7,600 from the Civil War. The President of the Board of Managers stated that large numbers of Civil War vets were dying and that the average age of the Civil War vets in the Home was 77.45. According to the president of the Board of Managers of the NHDVS at this same hearing, the last Sundry Bill gave the Board the right of segregation -- separating men based on their ailments/disabilities, resulting in making the Mountain Branch a hospital for tuberculosis patients and the Marion Branch "a sanitarium for neuropsychiatric patients."

By December 1920, the Board of Managers had removed almost all members from the Marion Branch who were not suffering from a mental illness and relocated them to other branches, and had partially completed the transition to a neuropsychiatric institution. By this time then the Marion Branch was almost completely serving World War I vets, while the Danville Branch, which accepted Marion's residents, became an old men's home, housing primarily Civil War and Spanish War vets. By January 15, 1921, the Marion Branch could provide for 460 patients; plans were to completely convert Marion to a neuropsychiatric hospital serving WWI veterans by June 30, 1921. The Marion Branch was intended to be curative, that is, the men would recover and re-enter society. U.S. House Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations,Hearing before the Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations in Charge of Sundry Civil Appropriation Bill for 1921, 66 th Cong., 2nd Session, February 17, 1920, 1043, accessed June 8, 2012 at ProQuest Congressional; U.S. House Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Hearing Before the Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations in Charge of Sundry Civil Appropriations Bill for 1922, 66th Cong., 3rd Session, December 13, 1920, 1589, 1591-92, 1595, at GoogleBooks; U.S. House Subcommittee of Committee on Appropriations,National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers,Hearing Before the Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations in Charge of the First Deficiency Appropriation Bill for 1921, 66 th Cong., 3rd Session, January 18, 1921, p. 375, 386-389 at GoogleBooks. According to the President of the Board of Managers, this segregation by generation was demanded by both the younger and older vets.

[7] On July 3, 1930, an act of the U.S. Congress was approved authorizing President Herbert Hoover to consolidate the Veterans Bureau, Pension Bureau, and the NHDVS. On July 21, 1930, President Herbert Hoover signed Executive Order 5398 establishing the Veterans' Administration. In September, the VA announced that the NHDVS would now be known as the Bureau of National Homes, a division of the VA. "Letters of Transmittal," National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Report of the Board of Managers for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1930, House Document No. 546, 71st Cong., 3rd Session, (1931), Indiana State Library, photocopy; "Groups Veterans' Bureaus," New York Times, March 11, 1930, 3, March 1, 2011 at ProQuest Historical Newspapers; Frederic J. Hopkins, "Improving Government Service to Veterans,"Kokomo Daily Tribune, March 19, 1929, 4, accessed February 25, 2011 at NewspaperArchive.com; "Unified Veterans' Relief,"New York Times, March 14, 1930, 15 at ProQuest Historical Newspapers; "Bureau Consolidation Bill is Approved," Logansport Pharos-Tribune, July 1, 1930, 4, accessed February 25, 2011 at NewspaperArchive.com; Herbert Hoover, "Executive Order 5398, Establishing the Veterans' Administration, July 21, 1930," accessed June 11, 2012 at Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws?pid=75311; "Veterans Home Name Changed," New York Times, September 28, 1930, p. N2, at ProQuest Historical Newspapers; National Parks Service, Veterans' Affairs National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers accessed through http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/veterans_affairs/History.html.

[8] United Stated Department of Veteran Affairs, "VA Northern Indiana Health Care System" (accessed through www.northernindiana.va.gov/about/); United States Department of Veteran Affairs, "VA History," (accessed through www.va.gov/about_va/vahistory.asp). Department of Veterans Affairs was created in 1989. Facility became known as the Veterans Affairs Northern Indiana Health Care System in 1995.

[9] Ibid. ; United Stated Department of Veteran Affairs, "Marion National Cemetery," (accessed through http://www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/marion.asp); National Parks Service, Veterans' Affairs National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers accessed through http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/veterans_affairs/History.html;

photographs and maps submitted by marker applicant held in IHB file.