Acts America

Biographies of Great Christians


The Booths

William Bramwell Booth, born in 1856. The eldest son bore the brunt of the Booth's religious crusade. A tall pale, refined boy, dubbed "Holy Willie," he was beaten by bullies at preparatory school and lunched alone in the church yard. His dismal experience led to the decision to educate the other children at home. By his teens Bramwell was already his father's right-hand man, and he toiled night and day trying to keep the accounts straight. He married Florence Soper, a dedicated officer who had worked with his sister Kate in Paris, in 1882. Their seven children were raised in much the same fashion as he had been reared: educated at home and with the Army constantly kept in mind. His two sons and five daughters remained staunch warriors. Bramwell and his father, though differing in temperament, were very close emotionally, and it was without hesitation that Booth designated him as his successor. Throughout his life, Bramwell's highest praise remained "I think it would have pleased the General." Bramwell's position in the family carried both the privilege and burdens of the eldest. As Chief of Staff it was his duty to relay his father's wishes in the form of marching orders and this eventually caused bad feelings and two splits in the Army. In 1929 as ill health hampered him in performance of duties and decisions, the first High Council was called and he was reluctantly deposed from office. He died that same year.

Ballington Booth (1857-1940). Dark, fiery Ballington, who had in childhood fancied himself a preacher, was put in charge of the first men's training home in 1881. He married (17 Sept 1886) Maud Charlesworth , another officer who had worked with Kate in Paris. The Booths were popular, competent, progressive, and democratic. He was a dynamic speaker who seemed to hold the audience in his hands. With his wife, as charismatic as he, he quickly charmed the country when sent to command forces us the United States, In 1891, during a great depression, Ballington instituted men's shelters similar to one begun in San Francisco. Maud concentrated on prison, slum and auxiliary work, and they were thoroughly established in this country. Then, when late in 1895 Bramwell informed them of a coming transfer, Ballington and Maud implored the General to reconsider. In January 1896 after an emotional exchange of letters with the Founder, they left the Army to found the Volunteers of America, which they hoped would become America's Salvation Army.

Catherine (Kate) Booth, born in 1858, brought the Salvation Army to France. As a captain, she and her two lieutenants preached the Gospel in Paris, wearing sandwich boards when the police forbid them to hand out pamphlets. They were not well received. Their street-corner sermons were often interrupted by people throwing mud and stones. After repeated attempts by men on the roads to strangle them by their bonnet strings, they began pinning the strings on rather than sewing them. They lived in rented apartments where prostitutes lived in poor conditions. Progress was slow. Opposition was fierce, and those who were converted were given a rough time, sometimes being fired from their jobs. The newspaper reports in France were equally critical. Eventually, Captain Kate Booth moved on to Switzerland, where the opposition was even fiercer. The authorities refused to allow her to rent halls in which to preach, and she was imprisoned for conducting an open-air meeting in the forest. At the age of 28, Kate married Arthur Clibborn, they took the name of Booth-Clibborn. They together continued preaching and spreading the Gospel in Europe, the United States and Australia for the rest of their lives. They had ten children, including the Pentecostal preacher William Booth-Clibborn.

Emma Booth was born in 1860. As a teenager, Emma took charge of The Salvation Army's first training school for women. In April of 1888, Emma Booth married Major Fredrick Tucker, the son of a rich British family living in India. They remained for some time in India, but later moved to London due to Emma Tucker's poor health. They worked for the Salvation Army International Headquarters in London before being posted to the United States, where they replaced Emma's brother Ballington and Maud. Their primary work was prison visitation. In 1903, at the age of 43, Emma Tucker was killed in a train accident, leaving behind six children.

Herbert Booth, the most talented musician of the Booth children, was born in 1862. A collection of songs written by him and his wife were published as Songs of Peace and War at the time of their marriage. He was Principal of the men's training home at the age of 22, and in command of the Army throughout the British Isles at 27. Though very capable, he frequently rebelled against the authority of his father. He resented Bramwell, as well, because of the need to work under, rather than with his brother. He married Cornelie Schoch, daughter of a Dutch officer, on Sept. 18th 1890. Herbert and Cornelie were put in charge in Canada, then in Australia in 1896. While there, Herbert became convinced that the Army's government needed a radical change, and sent to Bramwell a detailed criticism of its methods. Unable to change the Army's methods, Herbert and Cornelie sent Booth a "broken-hearted resignation" in 1902. Herbert began a career as an international free-lance evangelist. Cornelie died in 1916, and he later married her assistant, Annie Ethel Lane in1923. He died at the age of 64.

Marian Billups Booth was born in 1864. Though this was unusual in Victorian times, William and Catherine raised all their children to maturity. However, their third daughter had an illness with convulsions at an early age and was thereafter too delicate to do the regular work of the Army. Evangeline, her younger sister was her staunch defender. She was given the permanent rank of captain, remained at home, and is pictured at family occasions such at her father's funeral. Marian lived to be 72.

Evangeline Cory Booth. She was always called "Eva". From the first, this variant, red-haired daughter, born on Christmas Day 1865, promised great things. Loudly outspoken against cruelty to animals, she early devised outreaches to the people of the slums. An early effort was a doll hospital, and in her early teens she was going about in the slums with her sisters, preaching and identifying with the poor. Eva assisted her sister Emma at the training home, later was in charge, and at the age of 31 was given command in Canada. Eva became 'The Commander' in the U.S. At this time, friends persuaded her to use the name "Evangeline." Becoming an American citizen for business reasons, she remained a staunch American patriot all her days. At the request of her father, she never married. Though he had agreed to the marriage of her sisters, he had felt that such a strong personality as hers could best serve the cause as a single officer. However, she adopted four children, one of whom, Pearl, became an officer. Evangeline resisted all efforts by her brother to transfer her, and remained in America for 30 years, until she left in 1934 to serve for five years as the Army's first woman general. She then retired to her home in upstate New York until her death in 1950.

Lucy Milward Booth. Lucy, born in 1868, followed the family tradition and entered Army work at an early age, following Emma to India at age 16. She left with the Booth-Tuckers, and on 18 Oct 1894, married a Swedish officer, Colonel Emanuel Booth-Hellberg. Taking the name of “Ruhani” and "Raj - Singh", they jointly commanded the Indian Territory until 1896. Two years later they obeyed orders to go to France and Switzerland. Upon her husband's death in 1909, she served as territorial commander in Denmark, Norway, and South America before her retirement in 1934. Children: Emma, Eva, Lucy, Daniel, Ebba Mary.

Information taken from:
The Salvation Army International Heritage Centre
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