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THE SOLDIERS' HOME was started in 1882, during the administration of Past Department Commander Kinsman, who, with Past Department Commander T. S. Peck and others, visited towns, circulated petitions signed by thousands, and sent them to the Legislature. Comrades (Farrand S.) Stranahan and (Frank) Kenfield were on the military committee which made a unanimous report recommending and passing a bill appropriating the first $10,000. During the discussion, Past Department Commander Hugh Henry made an eloquent appeal in support of the bill. The second appropriation, $10,000, was made in 1886; the third, $25,000, in 1888; the fourth, $20,000, in 1890; closing with the fifth, $26,000, in 1892. The heirs of Trenor W. Park donates the splendid property valued at first cost $100,000, with about $500 in money. It contains 198 1/2 acres of beautiful meadow, with beautiful groves, walks and carriage drives. It received its first inmate May 18, 1887, George E. Wood, Co. E, 2d Vt. Since then, to December, 1893, 213 have found a haven here. Thirty-six have died; 24 of these have been taken to former homes and buried with kindred; 12 are buried beneath the trees in the Home cemetery. It is managed by a board of 18 trustees, elected by the Legislature, and by its charger, 15 of these must be members of the Grand Army, who elect from among their number an executive committee, a president and secretary, a superintendent and matron. The government keeps one-half of the pensions, and contributes $100 annually for each man's support. Quarterly reports are made to Gen. W.B. Franklin, the former commander of the Sixth Corps. Dependent children or wives have the inmates' pension; a small sum is held for each inmate for "pin money." I have become fully convinced that at no distant period the Home will have to be enlarged, as it is now filled to its capacity, and many deserving are waiting for admittance. Comrades, see to it in your towns, as you send me to the Legislture, that you send men who will look after our best interests in this matter.
In my visit and "smoke talk" with the "old boys," I found them as happy and contented as men could be in their condition, and very thankful for such a home; they appreciate the visits of their old comrades, and I hope you will exert yourselves to call on them often. The trustees have been very fortunte in securing for a superintendent our old friend and comrade, a true soldier from 1861, gallant Robert J. Coffey, who is the right man in the right place, and for a matron, his wife, who like a mother sympathizes and cares for the poor fellows in their sickness and distress, with that womanly tenderness that wins the respect and obedience of the most troublesome. May they both live to fill these posisitions as long as an inmate needs their case, and may their "shadows" never grow less. -- From Commander (George W.) Doty's Address, Tuesday.
The Bennington banner. 2 Feb. 1894