Index to Austin Registers
of the U.S. National Homes for Disabled Volunteers Soldiers 1866-1938
Introduction and History
by Helen Cook Austin, PhD
My original intention was to take each of the National Homes and tell a story about each of the soldiers named Austin who lived there after the Civil War. I soon discovered that some of the individuals were dismissed and readmitted to as many as five of the hospitals in locations from Los Angeles to Maine to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. So, I have chosen to make each story about one soldier showing the various locations of the Homes where he lived. This is a work in progress, and links to more stories will be added as time permits. An index follows which lists the individual soldier with links to their stories.
I think these records might provide some answers to Austin research questions: Where was Great Great Grandfather Austin after the Civil War? If he was living, why was he not with his family on the U.S. Population Census? If I can't find his Regiment and Company in the compiled records or pensions, what other sources for military information are on the Internet?
There was no Veterans Administration Agency before 1938. However, it was the proposal to Congress in 1851 by Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi to establish a U. S. Soldier's Home for Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Veterans that made it possible for a series of Homes to be established, beginning in 1866. At that time there were many homeless soldiers who needed a place to live. Some of them were named Austin, Aston, Austen, Auston, Osteen.
Soldiers could request which home they wanted to live in, when they wanted to leave, and if they wanted to transfer to a different home. That is why the records show many furloughs and changes of residence. Soldiers may be found on the U. S. Census living with relatives before or after the residency in the Home. The name of the “next-of-kin” on the register is a clue to a possible residence for the soldier on a census. Sometimes notations about transportation from one Home to another are shown on the Register.
The National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers was planned to have three branches: in the NE-Northeast or EB for Eastern Branch (Augusta or Togus, Maine); in the CB central area, north of the Ohio River (Dayton, OH); and NW, in what was then the Northwest U. S. (Wisconsin). The Board of Managers added more branches between 1870 and 1907 as more generous eligibility requirements allowed more Veterans to apply for admission. The name was changed to The National Homes.
The admission registers show only an acronym for identity of the homes. Other homes were: Bth for Bath, New York; BM Battle Mountain Sanatorium, Hot Springs, SD; DB for Danville Branch, IL; MB for Marion Branch; MtnB for Mountain Branch in Johnson City TN; PB Pacific Branch in Sawtelle, Los Angeles, CA; RB Roseburg Branch in Roseburg, OR; SB Southern Branch in Hampton, VA; WB Western Branch, Leavenworth, KS. In Philadelphia, PA a separate home was established for mariners called The U. S. Sailor's Home. Eventually there were twelve Homes.
There are many Austin veterans listed on the registers of the twelve U.S. National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938. The information available in these records varies. It can include: the name of the soldier, the name of Home or Branch, the dates of admission and discharge for each Home, birthplace, military rank, company and regiment, dates and places of enlistment and discharge, physical description, occupation, marital status, religion, name and address of nearest relative, date and place of death, place of burial, personal property at time of death, pension number and amounts paid.
- National Archives Microfilm Publication M1749, 282 rolls in the Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15.
- Reference reading is an article: The National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers by Trevor K. Plante, published in Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration, Spring 2004, Vol. 36, No. 1