Monday, December 22, 2008

Michigan's Old Soldiers' Home: Adam's File ...

As I mentioned Friday, I have finally obtained Adam Oswalt's Old Soldiers' Home record from the Grand Rapids Public Library. What was the Old Soldiers' Home, and where was it located? Did I get any questions answered? What did I learn?

As you can tell from its title, Michigan's Old Soldiers' Home was a convalescent home for elderly war veterans, and it was located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Although in 1908, at the time when my ancestor applied, I think the home was just north of the city. A few years ago I did look at a picture book from 1912 that my university owned, and the picture book mentioned that a train had to be taken to get to the home. I think the book also stated, or implied, that it was outside of the city, but I cannot recall off the top of my head. (The book was titled Michigan Soldiers' Home, and I think it was a book that visitors take back with them as souvenir.) The home also had its own cemetery, and there are war veterans buried in that cemetery. I am not sure if the original buildings are still on the property, but I do know that the home's name was changed to the Michigan Veteran's Home. Outside of that little information, I do not know anything else. There is a website that has some old pictures of the home, and you can read about the information it has here.

Anyhow, the file I obtained from Grand Rapids was a four page application Adam had submitted to the home. In the way of genealogical data, I did not learn much more than I already knew about Adam. There was a box for his religious beliefs, but he only listed that he was Protestant. Since that does not narrow down his faith anymore than I already knew, I am still stuck at square one when it comes to the church he attended. Outside of that, I get an answer as to when Adam arrived in Michigan for the first time. (He moved to Rockford, Illinois in the late-1880s and moved back to Michigan in the late-1890s.) In addition, I also found a little bit more of the medical condition my ancestor was in when he was applying to the home. From what is listed in the application and other documents, I think I can safely assume that Adam applied to the home based upon his medical situation. Plus, I also learned what the requirements were for admission to the Old Soldier's Home. Instead of just going into the details, I thought I would include the images of the application while I explained what I found out.

I believe this page is the first page of the application, but I am not too sure for sure. (At least this was the first page of the application on the microfilm.) This page primarily deals with a soldier's service, his martial status, age, religion, appearance, birthplace, etc. In short, this was information that I already knew about Adam from my previous research. Of course, if I had not done any research, this page would have been invaluable in trying to find his military records.

The next page deals with how long he was a resident in Michigan, and when he first lived in Michigan. I did not know when Adam moved to Michigan from Pennsylvania, and so I can now begin to start looking for proof to confirm this. Before I obtained this record, I knew he was living in Michigan by 1861 when he got married. I was unable to find him in the 1860 census, but I might be able to find him in the tax records of either Van Buren county or Saint Joseph county, if I look for their old records.

The third page of the application lists the medical problems my ancestor's suffered from, and gives me an idea as to why he applied to the home. Most of this information was new to me. This page is also the page that lists whether or not an applicant would be allowed to live in the home.

And last but not least, is the last page of the application. This page indicates when a veteran was admit ed to the home, and lists his application number. The page also lists the rules that govern how an inmate would live and who would allowed to live in the home. Applicants that received more than $12 a month from their pension were not supposed to be admitted, unless they were approved by the commander of the home. Since my ancestor was receiving about $15 a month from his pension, I suspect he was only allowed to live there due to his medical problems and he was one of those "special cases".

So, that is a little about the Old Soldiers' Home and what information you might expect to find in your ancestor's application. I realize that this is a long post, and I'm sorry for making it too long. I hope, though, that you found this post to be interesting and informative. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Dorene from Ohio said...

What an interesting post!
Are any of the old buildings standing at all?