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The People

William Booth began The Salvation Army in July 1865. Preaching to a small congregation in the slums of London, his spirit was as militant as that of a professional soldier while battling an almost overwhelming army. Thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards were among Booth's first converts to Christianity. His congregation were desperately poor. He preached hope and salvation. His aim was to lead them to Christ and link them to a church for continued spiritual guidance. Read More


Catherine Booth, wife of Salvation Army founder William Booth, was known as the "Army Mother." In her world, women had few rights, no place in the professions and a minimal presence in church leadership.

Nonetheless, in her marriage to William Booth, she became an evangelist, preacher and theologian, and co-founder of The Salvation Army. Read More


Eva Cory Booth, the seventh child of William and Catherine Booth, was born on Christmas day of 1865. It was the same year that her parents had responded to God's call to minister to the poverty-stricken people in the East End of London.

Although Eva was often featured as a singer or musician at her father's meetings, she had to wait until she was fifteen to wear the uniform of a sergeant and put on the Salvation Army bonnet designed by her mother. She would later influence thousands with her impassioned sermons at Great Western Hall. Read More

 

Joe The Turk was tall, impressive, and built like a prize fighter. Often considered rude or even obnoxious, he did not follow the rules. Though never in charge of a corps, he opened doors through which others could follow in a more conventional way.

He was born Nashan Garabed, or Garabedian, in Tallas, Turkey, to Armenian parents. His father died when he was three, but his mother saw that he had a Christian upbringing. At 17, he set out to work with his brother as a shoemaker in Boston. On the way to the U.S., he saw some Salvationists being attacked on the streets of London, and though knowing no English, he stepped in as their bodyguard. Read More

 

The first successful work in the United States rested on the shoulders of a 17-year-old girl.

In the spring of 1879, the newly named Salvation Army in London was so small that all the workers knew each other personally. Eliza Shirley, then 16, joined the Christian Mission and was appointed as an evangelist at one of the "stations." At first, her parents, Amos and Annie Shirley, were not sure they approved. Shortly thereafter, Amos, an experienced silk weaver, left for America and found a position in Philadelphia. Read More

 

George Scott Railton was one of the unique personalities who helped form the character of The Salvation Army.

The son of a Methodist minister, he lost both parents from fever when he was 15. The boy worked on his own in London, seeking something that was more like the old Methodism of John Wesley. Eventually, he found the Christian Mission work of William Booth. Read More

 

For Samuel Logan Brengle, the only religion worth having was a "red hot religion" ignited by the unquenchable fire of the Holy Spirit.

"What is that fire?" Brengle wrote. "It is love. It is faith. It is hope. It is passion, purpose, determination--utter devotion. It is singleness of eye and a consecration unto death. It is God the Holy Ghost burning in and through a humble, holy, faithful person." Read More

 


 

William Booth

William Booth began The Salvation Army in July 1865. Preaching to a small congregation in the slums of London, his spirit was as militant as that of a professional soldier while battling an almost overwhelming army. Thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards were among Booth's first converts to Christianity. His congregation were desperately poor. He preached hope and salvation. His aim was to lead them to Christ and link them to a church for continued spiritual guidance.

Even though Booth's followers were converted, churches did not accept them because of what they had been. However, Booth gave their lives direction in both a spiritual and practical manner and put them to work to save others who were like themselves. They, too preached and sang in the streets as a living testimony to the power of God.

In 1867, Booth had only 10 full-time workers. By 1874, the numbers had grown to 1,000 volunteers and 42 evangelists. They served under the name "The Christian Mission" and Booth assumed the title of General Superintendent, although his followers called him "General". Known as the "Hallelujah Army", the converts spread out to the east end of London into neighboring areas and then to other cities.

In 1878, Booth was reading a printer's proof of the organization's annual report when he noticed the statement, "the Christian Mission under the (sic) Superintendent's of the Rev. William Booth is a volunteer army." He crossed out the words "volunteer army" and penned in "Salvation Army." From those words came the basis of the foundation deed of The Salvation Army which was adopted in August of that same year.

The Salvation Army gained a foothold in the United States by the work of Lieutenant Eliza Shirley, who had left England to join her parents. She held the first meeting of The Salvation Army in America in Philadelphia in 1879. In 1880, General Booth sent a party of eight Salvationists, led by George Scott Railton, to officially begin the work of The Salvation Army in the United States.

In 1886, President Grover Cleveland received a delegation of Salvation Army officers and gave the organization a warm personal endorsement. This was the first recognition from the White House and was followed by similar receptions from succeeding presidents of the United States. The Salvation Army expanded rapidly to Canada, Australia, France, Switzerland, India, South Africa, Iceland, Germany, and many other countries.

General Booth's death in 1912 was a great loss to The Salvation Army. However, he had laid a firm foundation for the organization. Today, The Salvation Army serves people in over 100 countries.

 

Catherine Booth

Catherine Booth, wife of Salvation Army founder William Booth, was known as the "Army Mother." In her world, women had few rights, no place in the professions and a minimal presence in church leadership.
Nonetheless, in her marriage to William Booth, she became an evangelist, preacher and theologian, and co-founder of The Salvation Army.

As a child, Catherine Booth was bright and tenacious despite long illnesses. By age 12, she had thoroughly studied the Bible from cover to cover--eight times. During her life, she became one of the most popular preachers of her era.

A prolific writer, Catherine Booth explored universal questions and provided forthright answers. She believed Christians must be passionate about their faith, that if we are indifferent we can lose the capacity for love and service. She wrote: "He doesn't ask you to go to chapel or join the church and pray...but to get down and give up your heart to Him, to choose whom you will serve, and do it at once, and everything else will follow."

 

Evangeline Booth

Eva Cory Booth, the seventh child of William and Catherine Booth, was born on Christmas day of 1865. It was the same year that her parents had responded to God's call to minister to the poverty-stricken people in the East End of London.

Although Eva was often featured as a singer or musician at her father's meetings, she had to wait until she was fifteen to wear the uniform of a sergeant and put on the Salvation Army bonnet designed by her mother. She would later influence thousands with her impassioned sermons at Great Western Hall.

Looking for a way to get closer to others in the East End, she put on a tattered dress and joined the flower girls on the steps of the fountain in Picadilly Circus. Later she would enthrall audiences in this attire as she gave her dramatic presentation billed as "Miss Booth in Rags."

Eva was convinced by her father that it was not in her best interests to marry. Not to be denied motherhood, however, she adopted and raised four children.

In 1896, Booth ordered Eva to Canada-a great responsibility which she handled well. That same year, she traveled to New York and with her persuasive oratory, she kept most of the officers from joining her brother Ballington when he formed his own organization, the Volunteers of America.

In 1904 she was given command in the United States. At this time, on the advice of friends, she changed her name to Evangeline. She was an excellent athlete and played several instruments. In fact, many of her songs are sung in the Army today. Her dramatic ability was often compared to Sarah Bernhardt.

As National Commander, she was largely responsible for The Salvation Army's volunteers who served as chaplains and "Doughnut Girls" during World War I. During her 30 years as America's commander, she instituted many changes, including the division of the country into four territories.

On November 11, 1934, Evangeline became the Army's fourth general. She left America on the highest crest of love and popularity she had ever known, and retained her American citizenship.

Evangeline Booth was promoted to glory in 1950.

 

Joe the Turk

He was tall, impressive, and built like a prize fighter. Often considered rude or even obnoxious, he did not follow the rules. Though never in charge of a corps, he opened doors through which others could follow in a more conventional way.

He was born Nashan Garabed, or Garabedian, in Tallas, Turkey, to Armenian parents. His father died when he was three, but his mother saw that he had a Christian upbringing. At 17, he set out to work with his brother as a shoemaker in Boston. On the way to the U.S., he saw some Salvationists being attacked on the streets of London, and though knowing no English, he stepped in as their bodyguard.

In Boston, he felt the need to travel the country. It wasn't until he reached San Francisco that he saw more of these spirited, persecuted Salvationists. Protecting them was his pleasure. Though at first he could not be a member (because of his smoking and drinking habits), he passed out tracts in his shoe shop and gradually heard more of what they were trying to do. He changed his name to John, which later became "Joe the Turk." Captain John Milsaps convinced him to change his ways, and he became converted.

Joe's shoe shop became a colorful religious center, and he constantly thought of new ways to attract attention. Then he gave up his shop to work full time for The Salvation Army. He was made a captain shortly after helping the Army begin work in Los Angeles.

Novel methods always had a place in his campaigning. He wore a turban or fez with his uniform, which usually was bright red with a gold braid. When the district officer was transferred east in 1890, he took Joe with him. For the rest of his career, Joe traveled the country as a representative of the Trade Department, preaching and exhorting others to repent along the way. When the town of Macomb, Illinois, was in the grip of a crooked mayor, Joe ran him out of town and took over until the people could hold an election. In another town, he saw a mob about to lynch the corps officer and braved the crowd to put the officer safely on the train.

In city after city, Joe would be arrested for disturbing the peace. However, when brought to trial, he would be acquitted by the juries. Town ordinances forbidding open air meetings toppled in his wake. He boasted of being "jailed 57 times for Jesus."

In later years, Joe carried a large umbrella decorated with slogans and pictures of the Booths. To the wonder of his audiences, little light bulbs made it glow in the dark. If a goat cart suited his purpose, he would form a mini-circus and parade into town to gain attention. Many a host found linens and walls decorated with his rubber stamp, "Jesus Saves."

After 38 years of adventurous service in the ranks of the Army, he retired in 1925. He was promoted to glory in his New York hotel room in 1937. Thousands called "Joe the Turk" their spiritual father.

 

Eliza Shirley

The first successful work in the United States rested on the shoulders of a 17-year-old girl.

In the spring of 1879, the newly named Salvation Army in London was so small that all the workers knew each other personally. Eliza Shirley, then 16, joined the Christian Mission and was appointed as an evangelist at one of the "stations." At first, her parents, Amos and Annie Shirley, were not sure they approved. Shortly thereafter, Amos, an experienced silk weaver, left for America and found a position in Philadelphia.

When he sent for his wife and daughter, Eliza did not want to leave the Army behind. However, her father's description of the ungodliness he found in America convinced her that the Army was needed. She called on General Superintendent William Booth and asked permission to start the work in America.

By then, she had been commissioned a lieutenant and was doing well in her home corps, Coventry. Booth was not sure the U.S. was ready for opening, and reminded her that leaving would be a breach of her pledge. However, he softened enough to say that if she were unable to resist, she could go with his blessing. Further, if she were successful, he would give her work official recognition. Captain Elijah Cadman, her superior officer, presented 100 penny song books to take with her.

By the time they reached Philadelphia, her mother shared her desire to begin Army work. They walked the streets looking for an affordable meeting place, finally settling on an abandoned chair factory. The family worked together to clean it up and get it ready for the opening meeting. Posters announced the appearance of "Two Hallelujah Females." Though they didn't have any standard uniforms, drums, or any of the glitter that attracted crowds, people flocked out of curiosity to their open air meetings. Eventually, the police told them they couldn't gather on the street any more. They found a vacant lot several blocks away, but afterwards no one followed their march to the hall.

Providence arrived in the form of a tar barrel fire set by some boys on their lot. When the Shirleys saw the lot filled with people watching the firemen, they proceeded with a meeting. Their trophy was Reddy, the worst drunk in the area. When the people saw Reddy march to the hall, they followed to see what they would do with him. News of Reddy's conversion reached not only the local papers, but up and down the coast.

Shortly after this incident, the Shirleys opened up another hall in West Philadelphia. When Amos's employer told him he had to choose between his job and the Army, he chose the Army.

General Booth's reply to the American success was the promotion of the Shirleys to captain and the promise to send George Scott Railton to the country to take charge.

Amos met with a fatal accident not many years later, but Annie and Eliza continued in the work. Eliza returned from a rest trip to England with a new husband, Captain Philip Symmonds, had four children, and lived well into her eighties. Retiring in Chicago, she became an ardent fan of the Chicago Cubs. As Eliza was on her deathbed, the Cubs were in the final games of the World Series. She drifted in and out of consciousness, alternately praying and asking how the Cubs were doing. When word came that Eliza Symmonds had been promoted to glory, there was a moment of silence in the stadium in honor of this gallant lady.

 

George Scott Railton

George Scott Railton was one of the unique personalities who helped form the character of The Salvation Army.

The son of a Methodist minister, he lost both parents from fever when he was 15. The boy worked on his own in London, seeking something that was more like the old Methodism of John Wesley. Eventually, he found the Christian Mission work of William Booth.

At the Booths' invitation, he moved into their home to become Booth's secretary. In this position, he consolidated his beliefs of theology and contributed many of his own views to the fledgling Salvation Army, particularly concerning the Sacraments.

By 1880, William Booth's son Bramwell matured and became capable to serve as secretary. Railton, who always had a desire for mission work, persuaded Booth he should begin the Army's work in New York. With male officers being in short supply, he selected Captain Emma Westbrook and recruited six more young women with the thought of training them on the voyage to America.

Railton and the "lassies" made swift progress, joining with the unofficial work already begun by the Shirley family in Philadelphia. He also began the work in Newark, New Jersey, leaving two young women in charge. With typical zeal, he soon departed for St. Louis, Missouri, in an effort to begin work there, but was unsuccessful. By 1881, he was needed by Booth and was on his way to begin missionary work in other lands.

A talent for languages enabled him to create confidence in educated people. Visits to France, Switzerland, and Sweden took up much of his time. Somehow, he found time for courtship and marriage to Marianne Parkyn. She was a soul mate who proved adaptable to his frantic schedule and incessant traveling away from England. Eventually, she and their children made a permanent home in Margate, where he stayed whenever possible.

In the course of his voyages, he made many contributions to the Army's work. They include song books in Zulu and Dutch, the beginnings of the Army and Navy League for Salvationist servicemen away from home, and the Prison Gate work for recently-released prisoners. He had a particular interest in Germany, studying the language and being instrumental in sending officers to work there. His stays were so short in various countries, his wife did not have time to embroider his work shirt in the proper language for each one. Rather, Railton obtained permission to wear one embroidered only with a cross, the universal language of Christ.

In 1906, in accordance with the founder's wishes, he scouted China to look for possibilities for the Army's work--which began in 1915. He also gloried in reaching the Japanese people, where he found the work already in progress.

Railton was inspired by the missionary spirit in a far wider sense than is generally understood. He was a missionary not for a province, land, or people, but for the world.

Railton's health, always precarious, began to fail noticeably in 1913, the year after Booth's death. He kept up his frantic schedule with a trip to France and Holland and an impulsive stop in Cologne, Germany. After running for a train with heavy baggage, he collapsed and died at the age of 64. His first lying in state was at the men's shelter in that city.

People from all walks of life, from all over the world, mourned his promotion to glory. World Commissioners followed the car bearing his casket. As the procession passed Parliament, a band was permitted to play for the first time in 100 years. George Scott Railton was truly William Booth's spiritual son and was laid to rest beside The Salvation Army's founder.

 

Samuel Logan Brengle

For Samuel Logan Brengle, the only religion worth having was a "red hot religion" ignited by the unquenchable fire of the Holy Spirit.

"What is that fire?" Brengle wrote. "It is love. It is faith. It is hope. It is passion, purpose, determination--utter devotion. It is singleness of eye and a consecration unto death. It is God the Holy Ghost burning in and through a humble, holy, faithful person."

Brengle (1860-1936) was well-known as a minister to The Salvation Army's officers and soldiers in the United States. Joining the Army in 1897, Brengle served 30 years. He believed that those who seek God "burst into flame," when they first touch Him and they can bring those "left out in the cold" to His light.

Brengle wrote, "Holy fire kindles in every soul that lives with Him," believing that as we seek God's fire we become "burning and shining lights" in a cold and dark world.

He saw The Salvation Army corps as a place where men and women, compelled by the Spirit, could gather to pray for the lost without concern for comfort or convenience, no matter the time of day or night. To Brengle, the corps was a sacred place from which the love and power of God could be communicated to all--entire cities might be energized and "lit up" by the prayer of soldiers who had "caught the flame."