To The Herald-Whig:
I found the supplement in a recent Sunday paper on the Quincy Veterans Home enlightening. The history article gave Mayor Parkhurst a lot of credit for Quincy being selected. Another Quincyan who should not be forgotten in this 125th anniversary of the home is Col. W.W. Berry.
As a child, my grandparents took me to the home and showed me Berry's name in flowers near the old administration building. Parts of the following are taken from the 18th Biennial Report of the Board of State Commissioners on Public Charities.
The 34th General Assembly on June 26, 1885, passed a measure providing for the establishment of a Soldiers' and Sailors Home for IIllinois veterans of the Mexican and Civil Wars. The law became operative July 1, 1885 with the following commissioners on location appointed by Governor Oglesby: Col W.W. Berry of Quincy, Chairman; F.E. Bryant of Bement; H.T. Noble of Dixon; M.C. Crawford of Jonesboro; Gen. M.R.M. Wallace of Chicago; Fred O. White of Aurora and H.M. Hall of Olney. Berry most likely was chosen being a prominent resident of Quincy as well as influential in the Illinois and national Grand Army of the Republic. The GAR was a Civil War veterans organization which was lobbying the state for the veterans home since all national homes were full due to the large number of veterans.
Many sites were offered for the location of the institution, but after due consideration, and in appreciation of the efforts and good judgment of Col. W.W. Berry, the commission chose a tract of land of 142 acres, which was afterward increased by purchase to 222 acres.
The home was opened in March 1887. Considering the pressure from other cities, I think Berry may have had the most influence upon Quincy being selected and should not be overlooked.