South of the city a couple of miles, is the western branch of the Home for disabled volunteer soldiers; and a more desirable place for the visitor and sight-seer could not be found by a year's travel across the seas. It is situated on a nearly level plateau, several hundred feet above the channel, and but a few hundred feet west of the Missouri river. Magnificent trees shade the grounds in summer, and bowers of all descriptions made by the hands of the many hundreds of old battle-scarred veterans. Here, the Brigadier General, the Colonel, the Captain, Lieutenant, Sergeant and Private meet on a common level, in a good cozy home and will pass their last years on earth in quietude and repose.
In 1885, Congress appropriated $350,000 for the erection of buildings, and it is fair to presume that each succeeding year Congress will make such necessary appropriations as will insure its speedy completion. The plans were drawn by Mr. E. T. Carr. The stone and brick was done by Mr. J. A. McGonigle, and the plumbing and steam heating work by Mr. James Foley, all of Leavenworth. The work is a credit to the city. Each barrack has a capacity of 124 men.
On the first day of September 1885, the first disabled soldier was admitted as a member of the Home. Since that time and up to March 17, 1886, four hundred and eighteen old soldiers have been received. The weekly arrivals average from fifteen to twenty, while the discharges average from five to ten, showing that they not only come but go. In the near future this Home will decidedly advantage our city, and appreciably unfold the benefits locally derived from the close proximity of this permanent, worthy and beneficent institution. There are two Chapels at the Home, a fine cornet band is attached to the institution and a firing party whose duty it is to fire salutes at funerals, which average one per week. The Home has two pieces of artillery and has the privilege of firing a morning and evening gun. The dining hall of the home will seat 1,200 at table. The buildings are inspected every day. Many of the veterans are practical as well as theoretical farmers and the veterans plant and harvest corn, peas, potatoes, rhubarb, cabbage, turnips, onions, tomatoes, radishes and other staples for the table. Six hundred fruit trees on the grounds provide apples, pears, peaches and cherries. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants, gooseberries and other small fruits have been set and will bear in time.
The G. A. R. Post at the Home has been named in honor of the first inmate that died, (Thos. Brennan) and is called Brennan Post, Henry F. Jacobs, Commander.
Members of the Soldiers' Home are given transportation from any place in the United States to the Home when they are admitted. On their arrival they are given a suit of clothes, two suits of underwear, three pairs of hose, one pair of shoes, a cap and an overcoat, a good warm room, plenty to eat, and tobacco to chew and smoke if he does not draw a pension. If he draws a pension, he is required to purchase his tobacco.
* This was compiled from several pieces in early city directories and stories from the Leavenworth Times.
Note: This home has been known by a variety of names over the years. Some names have been:
Western Branch of the Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers
Dwight D. Eisenhower Veteran's Administration Center
Veteran's Home (V A)
North Eastern Kansas Veteran's Center