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Post-war Organizations, Events and Places.

The Soldiers' Home, Bennington


THE home is situated about a half mile from the business center of this thriving village, and occupies a farm of nearly two hundred acres, one-third of which is a grove of sturdy maples directly fronting the buildings on the west; the balance being under cultivation, providing a substantial revenue toward the maintenance of the Home. Three acres, more or less, are reserved for garden purposes, and provide all kinds of vegetables for the inmates in summer, as well as beets, turnips, cabbage, etc., for winter. The balance of the farm produces hay, oats, corn and potatoes in such proportion as the Superintendent deems advisable. Four heavy team horses help to carry on the farm and twenty-five head of well bred cattle furnish all the milk required; thirty-five to forty pigs go far towards greasing up beans and cabbage during the season. The spacious barns and out buildings are fitted up conveniently so the stock is cared for with a comparatively small amount of labor; each department by itself clean and in order. In connection with the barn is a silo that is filled from the product of the farm each year. A modern hen house with two hundred fowls supplies the eggs.

The cemetery is located about fifty rods north-east of the Home and occupies a plot of about an acre, inclosed, and is arranged similar to the National cemeteries. A prominent headstone marks the grave of each soldier, with name, company, regiment, and residence engraved. The center of the burial plot is marked with a large, beautiful urn presented by the Department of Vermont, Women's Relief Corps.

At this writing there have been one hundred and ninety-six deaths since the organization in 1887, seventy-three of whom are buried here. The full Memorial Service is rendered each 30th of May by the local Post G. A. R., assisted by members of the Home, Women's Relief Corps, Sons of Veterans, National Guard, children from the public schools and the City Band. An oration by some prominent citizen of the State is usually delivered from the veranda of the Home. Hugh H.

Henry, Jr., of Chester will deliver the address the coming Memorial Day.

The Main building of the Home is a wooden structure about two hundred feet long by fifty feet wide, three stories high. The two upper floors are arranged into sleeping rooms for the men. A hall passes through the center of each floor, with the rooms located on either side. Every room is provided with two single beds, a dresser, chairs, pictures, rugs, etc., and is well lighted and ventilated. Nearly all the rooms were furnished by Posts of the Grand Army and Women's Relief Corps throughout the State. There is a commodious bath and toilet room supplied with hot and cold water on each floor.

The library, situated on the second floor, is a very pleasant room, lighted on three sides by large windows. It is stocked with valuable books, magazines and papers, and the walls are covered with pictures suitable to the surroundings. The men's social and smoking room is located in the east end of the first floor and is the most interesting corner of the Home. It is here that great battles of the war are fought over and questions of grave importance settled. A large jar of tobacco is always on "tap," and generally things look blue while the boys are swapping truths. Cards, dominos and checkers are used to pass the time. Concerts or other entertainments are frequently enjoyed during the winter months.

Next to the smoking room, with a hallway between, comes the men's dining room with a capacity for one hundred or more plates, scrupulously clean and in perfect order. The every-day bill of fare provided by the superintendent is substantial and served in first-class order.

The kitchen, bakery, store rooms, refrigerators, etc., are all uniformly clean, with seemingly a place for everything, and everything in its place.

Next the family dining room, then the offices and reception room for visitors complete the first floor. The living rooms of the superintendent and family are located on the second floor over the office. The entrance to the Hospital from the office is through a corridor of glass about one hundred feet long by ten feet wide, that is used as a conservatory during the winter months, all the flowering plants on the place being removed and cared for here. There is a kitchen connected with the Hospital when extra diet is prepared for invalids. A dispensary with medicines and all paraphernalia required for a well equipped hospital; trained nurses are in attendance, night and day. In the main ward, generally occupied by those not seriously ill, are fourteen cot beds, and for those who need quiet or unusual care, there are eleven rooms furnished comfortably with a single bed in each. A resident physician goes through regularly, and prescribes for all and every comfort that can be made available is at the service of the patients. The building is well ventilated and heated by steam.

The chapel stands next to the hospital, and is a neat, modern structure. It was built by popular subscription, Hon. Hugh Henry, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, being instrumental in raising the required fund. It is furnished in natural wood and will seat two hundred. The bell in the tower was presented by the late Major A. B. Valentine of Bennington.

The fountain, on the lawn, takes its supply of spring water through an eight inch iron pipe from the mountain top east of the Home, and throws a perpendicular stream one hundred and seventy-five feet, the water falling gracefully into a basin a hundred feet in diameter, coursing its way to a living spring some rods below, forming a clear running stream that continues through the length of the grove. The above system furnishes water, and motive power to all the out buildings, and every department of the Home.

There is a band stand in the grove where concerts are frequently given in summer by the City Band, that are largely attended. There is also a menagerie of small animals that affords a great attraction for children.

All bills of the Home are audited monthly by the secretary and passed upon by the president of the Board. An inspection is made by a committee each quarter, and the Government Inspector, "Genl. N. M. Curtis" drops in at any time when it is convenient for him to do so.

The rules for admission are, that a man must have been a Vermont soldier or to have gained a residence in the state, holding an honorable discharge from service, and that no soldier drawing a pension of more than twelve dollars a month can be admitted, unless his condition is such as to require a medical treatment, when he may be admitted to the Hospital.

The inmates of the Home are not required to perform any labor if they are not so disposed. Quite a number, however, are employed at light work and are paid for their service.

"Soldiers' Home At Bennington; How Our Indigent Veterans of the Civil War are Cared For," The VERMONTER; The State Magazine, April, 1907, xii:4, pp. 115-117.