The Indiana State Soldiers' Home was established by the work of the Grand Army of the Republic, commencing at the annual Department Encampment, held in Indianapolis in 1886, but the movement was delayed, by reason of the building of the State Soldiers' Monument, unto the Encampment of 1891, when decisive action was taken by the appointment of a committee, consisting of one member from each Congressional district and one at large, to take charge of the work.
The members of this committee were James R. Carnahan, W.H. Tucker, D.N. Foster, C.J. Murphy, D.F. Spees, Andrew Fite, H.B. Martin, U.D. Cole, A.O. Marsh, C.M. Travis, W.S. Haggard, D.B. McConnell, J.J. Todd and Jasper E. Lewis. The committee organized by electing James R. Carnahan, president; W.H. Tucker, secretary, and D.N. Foster, treasurer.
This committee was empowered to select a suitable location for the Home, and on July 28, 1892, it selected the grounds offered by the citizens of Tippecanoe County and the city of Lafayette--a tract of woodland containing 187 acres, situated on the west bank of the Wabash River, four miles north of the city of Lafayette and three miles southwest of the famous Tippecanoe battle ground. In addition to this tract, the city of Lafayette donated 55 acres situated two miles southwest of the main body of land and Col. R.P. DeHart donated a river frontage of nearly one-half mile. In addition to these tracts of land, the committee received a cash donation of $5,632.50 from Tippecanoe County.
The committee, having secured the location, prepared a bill to be presented to the Legislature for the establishment and maintenance of the Home. This bill failed to pass the Senate of the Legislature of 1893, for lack of time, but passed both branches of the Legislature in 1895, and became a law February 23d, 1895, the date upon which it was signed by Governor Claude Matthews.
This bill appropriated $75,000 for general buildings, provided for a Board of Trustees to be appointed by the Governor, to serve without salary other than actual expenses while engaged in the business of the Home, defined the duties of the Board, empowered it to appoint a Comandant and an Adjutant, and defined their duties, authorized County Commissioners to appropriate money for the erection of the cottages, defined the requisites for membership, and appropriated for the maintenance of the Home a sum equal to $10.50 per month, for the time each member, employee and officer of the Home was present during the month. This sum was increased to $12.50 per month by the Legislature of 1897, which must pay all repairs and other expenses of the Home, including all salaries except those of the Commandant and Adjutant.
The Governor appointed as Trustees James R. Carnahan, of Indianapolis; David N. Foster, of Fort Wayne; Isaiah B. McDonald, of Columbia City; James B. Wallace, of Lafayette, and C.J. Murphy, of Evansville. The Board organized by electing James R. Carnahan, President; David N. Foster, Secretary, and James B. Wallace, Treasurer, and immediately invited competitive designs for a Waterworks Plan, Hospital, Old People's Home, Dining-room (the second story to be used as a Widow's Home), Adjutant's and Quartermaster's Building, Commissary Building and Power House for electric light and laundry combined. From the numerous designs submitted, the Board selected those prepared by J.F. Alexander & Son, of Lafayette, and at once advertised for bids for the construction of the buildings named.
Contracts were awarded July 8, 1895, for the completion of the seven buildings for an aggregate sum of $52,601.24, and on February 1, 1896, they were opened for occupancy, but were not formally dedicated until July 4, of the same year.
The Legislature of 1897 appropriated the sum of $61,723.61 to be used in building an Old Men's Home, a Chapel and an addition to the Dining-room, constructing sewers, furnishing the different buildings, graveling streets, roads and sidewalks, and for the purchase of a pump, dynamo and fire apparatus.
There are now (Oct. 31, 1900) nine state buildings, thirty-nine county cottages, five cottages built by the G.A.R., one by the W.R.C., of Indiana, one each by the John A. Logan and Marsh B. Taylor W.R.C. of Lafayette, and one by the John A. Logan Circle, Ladies of the G.A.R., of Lafayette. In addition to these, a public restaurant, Commandant's residence, Surgeon's cottage and carpenter and paint shop combined have been built by the Home. In addition to the sums donated for buildings, the W.R.C. and Ladies of the G.A.R. over the state have given the sum of $1,326.25 for furnishing rooms and cottages in the Home.
Photos of the Indiana State Soldiers' Home 100 Years Ago
§Board of Trustees
§Administration Building and Commandant's Residence
§Executive Building and Adjutant's Residence
§Main Dining-room and Widow's Home
Boone, Hamilton, Johnson, Marion, Shelby
Benton, Fountain, Tippecanoe, Warren, White
Clinton, Montgomery, Parke, Vanderburg, Vigo
Cass, Elkhart, LaGrange, Lake, LaPorte
§County Cottages and Views in the Home
§G. A. R. and W. R. C. Cottages
§View from the Tower of the Old People's Home
§Fountain in the Center of the Esplanade
§Group of Members
Including the Youngest and Oldest Member of the Home
Photographs scanned by Adina Watkins Dyer
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