by Annie Wittmeyer.
Sanitary Agent of the State of Iowa during Civil War
IN October 1863, I came up from the hospitals in the front, to attend a sanitary convention at Muscatine, Iowa.
As I was legally commissioned the sanitary agent of the State by Governor Samuel J. Kirkwood, having been elected to that position by the Legislature of Iowa, my presence was greatly desired by the workers.
The convention was large and representative. But my own heart was greatly burdened with touching messages from dying soldiers to their wives and children. In the midst of the convention, I boldly announced my purpose to try to establish a home for soldiers' orphan children. The proposition was received with the wildest enthusiasm; and the convention took action at once, not only endorsing the movement but pledging financial support.
There was no precedent to follow, as there was no institution of the kind in all the world.
I was elected president of "The Orphans' Home Association," but declined, and Governor Stone, the newly elected governor of the State, was chosen. The ablest men and women of the State were brought into the organization, and the Home was duly opened in a rented house.
The house, although large, was soon crowded to overflowing, and we could get no larger building that would accommodate the hundreds who were applying for admission.