Did Quincy choose between getting the Illinois Veterans Home and a state university?

The Illinois Veterans Home was opened in October 1886 as the Illinois Soldiers and Sailors Home. The Stone Headquarters Building is seen in this undated photo, as are other barrack buildings in the background. | Photo courtesy of the Quincy Public Library.
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jan. 9, 2017 3:30 pm Updated: Jan. 25, 2017 10:05 am

I heard a rumor that Quincy decided on getting the Veterans Home instead of possibly a state university. Can you look into the history of the start of the Veterans Home in Quincy and anything about the possibility of a university back then?

We've heard that before, too, but histories of the Illinois Veterans Home don't mention the city having one option or the other.

More than 50 communities in Illinois initially expressed interest for the Veterans Home facility, which opened in 1886 as the Illinois Soldiers and Sailors Home.

In a 2013 article in The Herald-Whig, Lynn Snyder wrote that the state commander told the annual encampment of the Illinois Department of the Grand Army of the Republic in February 1885 that a soldiers and sailors home needed to be established by the state and that each post should work toward that goal.

The Grand Army of the Republic appointed a committee to develop a bill calling for an Illinois home for veterans of the Mexican and Civil wars, which passed the General Assembly in June 1885.

After $200,000 was appropriated for the project in, Gov. Richard J. Oglesby appointed a seven-member "Location Commission" to determine where the facility would be built. This commission was led by Col. W.W. Berry, a Quincy attorney who had been elected commander of the Illinois Department of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1885. Berry served with the 5th Kentucky Infantry during the Civil War.

The commission received 42 formal proposals, and after about four months and more than 400 secret ballots, Quincy was selected with four votes from the commissioners.

Snyder wrote that the Commission on Location gave significant evidence that Quincy was selected "due in part to the tract of land, the Edward A. Dudley estate, that Quincy's advocates had offered as a site for the home."

The Illinois Veterans Home is located on a 200-acre campus and currently has about 400 residents. It is the largest of the four veterans homes operated by the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.

How can my question be answered? Just ask. We'll quiz community leaders, business officials, historians, educators -- whoever can tell us what you want to know. Submit questions to or mail them to Answers, The Herald-Whig, P.O. Box 909, Quincy, IL 62306. Provide a name and phone number so we can respond or clarify information. Questions dealing with personal or legal disputes will not be accepted.

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