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1865 February 25: A Home for Wisconsin Soldiers in Milwaukee

February 28, 2015

From The Prescott Journal of February 25, 1865, comes this article on the planned Soldiers Home in Milwaukee.

A Permanent Home for Wisconsin Soldiers.

To the People of Wisconsin :

It is proposed to establish in Milwaukee a Permanent Home, the object of which shall be to furnish temporary rest and refreshment to soldiers passing through Milwaukee on their way to and from the field of active operation, and an Asylum for soldiers honorably discharged from the service, who have no home, and disabled by wounds or sickness, are unable to support themselves.

Chartered by the Legislature, it is designed to make it an Institution of the State, yet the property of the people, reared by their liberal contributions, and fostered by their tender care.

When an appeal has been made to your patriotism it has never been made in vain.—Those noble charities, the Sanitary and Christian Commissions, attest your liberality, and it is our pride that Wisconsin, in proportion to her population and wealth, in contributions of this kind, of all the loyal States, leads the van.  But the time is coming when the duties of these charities will have been performed ;  when our scarred and war-worn Veterans will return ;  when many of those who went forth in the vigor of youth and prime of manhood, wasted by disease, or maimed in battle, will have no homes.  Shall we, who have been protected by the living rampart which they have thrown between us and war’s desolation, sit down and quietly say to them :  The counties have their poorhouses ;  the cold charities of the world are open to you to beg where you will ?”—or shall we, with grateful hears, say :  “Wisconsin’s soldiers are Wisconsin’s sons, and as the mother takes to her heart her first-born, with willing hands we gather into our folds our helpless warriors, our proudest and happiest duty to repay the sacrifices they have made for us ?”  Their wasted forms, their maimed bodies, their heroic sacrifices, their gallant achievements, and their undying patriotism, all appeal to us.  PEOPLE OF WISCONSIN !  Through the charity which we seek to foster, we ask you, Shall that appeal be made in vain ?

For the purpose of raising money for the construction of a suitable building, a Fair, designed to embrace contributions from all parts of the State, will be held at Milwaukee, commencing on the 28th day of June next.  All the appliances of art and genius, taste and skill, will be sought to make it attractive.  Several thousands of dollars have been already raised to defray the expenses incident to so large an enterprise.

We call upon the people to give in proportion to their means.

The farmer, of the produce of his farm—horses, cattle, sheep, hogs, grain, vegetables, eggs, butter, milk, cheese—anything that will realize money.

The merchant of his stock ;  the mechanic of the fruits of his cunning handiwork.

Let women weave the fairy fabrics which render beauty more attractive.

Let contributions of the product of the mane, the field, the forest, the loom, and the ocean, indicate an appreciation of that patriotic spirit which has protected these interest from utter desolation.

We want evergreens, flowers and fruit—contributions of whatever is rare and beautiful in nature and art ;  relics from the battlefield, and the tattered flags, which in a hundred triumphant conflicts have made our soldier sons immortal.

For our tables we want in abundance, everything that can gratify the taste or tempt the palate.

We ask citizens of foreign birth to join us.  Let the German give us something from the Fatherland, and the Irishman from the Gem of the Ocean, and the Scandinavian from the northern home, to make our Fair both profitable and attractive.

During the Fair, places of amusement will be open, and the musical talent of the city will lend its aid.

If any county desires a separate department for the display and sale of its contributions, a place will be provided.  Please notify the Secretary of the fact before the second Wednesday of April next.

All articles forwarded must be directed :  “Soldiers’ Home, Milwaukee, (for the Fair),” [there is a line missing here on the microfilm due to a fold in the newspaper] -tary, containing a schedule of articles sent and their value.

A separate department will be provided for the sale of such articles as may be sent to be disposed of with tickets or raffling.  Those making donations of this character will please notify the Secretary of their wishes in that respect.

Those desiring to contribute money, who live out of Milwaukee, can forward it directly to the Treasurer, John J. Tallmadge, Esq., Milwaukee.

Let every social, Christian, and charitable association in the State, take the matter in hand, and stimulate the prosecution of labors which shall result in material benefit to this great work.

Bear in mind that we seek to establish an institution organized under the fostering care of the State.  It is to last during the generation in which we live.  It is to establish a home where helpless men, yet in their youth, may grow gray, and in their second childhood recount to a generation yet unborn, the glories of that triumph which saved a nation, and preserved us and them a home.

.                                .E. L. BUTTRICK, Sec’y.

Modern photograph by Matthew Gilson of the Milwaukee Soldiers Home, Built in 1867

Modern photograph by Matthew Gilson of the Milwaukee Soldiers Home, Built in 1867

1.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation has a campaign to save the old Soldiers Home in Milwaukee. Their website is:

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