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John Lendrum Mitchell

John Lendrum Mitchell was born in Milwaukee on October 19, 1842, to Alexander and Martha Reed Mitchell. Both parents were instrumental in paving the way for the Northwestern Branch, his father through his service as an Advisory Member to the Wisconsin Soldiers' Home and his mother through her life-long philanthropic efforts including the Wisconsin' Soldiers Aid Society and Wisconsin Soldiers' Home. Mitchell and several other landowners sold 400 acres near Wauwatosa to the federal government for the establishment of the Northwestern Branch.

Mitchell served in the 24th Wisconsin Volunteers as 2nd lieutenant of Company I from 1862 to 1863 and 1st lieutenant of Company E in the first half of 1863. He also served as State Senator of Wisconsin from 1872 to 1873 and 1875 to 1876; President of the Milwaukee School Board; elected member of the Board of Managers, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers July, 1886; and United States Senator from 1896 to 1899.

One of his enduring gifts to the Northwestern Branch and subsequently to all branches of the National Home was the introduction of trained female nurses, a gift which caused assistant surgeon John McIlvaine to remark: "The occupants of this house will not cease to bless Col. John L. Mitchell…until they go to rest over in the cemetery."

The 1895 Souvenir Book summarizes Mitchell's responsibilities as a local manager:

COLONEL JOHN L. MITCHELL, the Milwaukee millionaire, is Local Manager of the Home, and he acts for the Board of Managers during the interim of their meetings.

All applications for admission or readmission are passed by him, and his action is final. He makes a formal inspection of the Home about once a month, though he visits the place to consult with the Governor nearly every day he is in the city. To him must all complaints be made, and he patiently gives a hearing to every old soldier who imagines he has a grievance.

Col. Mitchell is fortunately so situated that he can devote a great deal of his time to his work, and he takes pleasure in so doing. He served in the 24th Regt. Wis. Inf. Vol., and has a warm place in his heart for the boys who wore blue. He is a liberal, broad-minded gentleman, and under his personal supervision the Home has grown to be an institution of which this state and the Nation have reason to be proud. His election to the U. S. Senate from the State of Wisconsin places on the floor of that house a man who will know what these National Homes require, and who will look after their interest; he having been a member of the committee on military affairs as Congressman – that committee having charge of appropriations for soldiers’ homes.

Mitchell was the father of General “Billy” Mitchell of World War I aviation fame. He was a wealthy and respected citizen of Milwaukee and took a lifelong interest in veteran’s institutions.

General Mitchell Boulevard, formerly called Central Drive (or Avenue), remains the most prominent road on the campus. It starts at National Avenue and 49th Streets, runs between the Former Lake Wheeler and the Governor's residence, and crosses the Hank Aaron Trail (former railroad tracks), and connects to Blue Mound Road.

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Proceedings, Board of Managers, Vol. 2. July 1, 1884-Swx 6, 1899, page 83.
1889 Souvenir Book
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