Sunday, April 10, 2005

Joseph Chatham in the Salvation Army

One of the most recent findings in the Chatham research we have been doing is the finding of the Joseph Chatham Bible. Joseph (1875-1940) had a Bible that was passed down to one of his daughters. One of his granddaughters recently found the Bible that included information about his time with the Salvation Army. Apparently Joseph traveled with the Salvation Army preaching the gospel. He did this for almost 3 years from 1897-1900. His work with the Salvation Army took him from his home in Texas to Missouri, Illinois and Iowa.

I contacted the National Headquarters for the Salvation Army (SA). Through that contact I found out that Joseph began as a Cadet and later promoted to be a Lieutenant. He was working towards becoming an officer in the SA prior to his leaving. Unfortunately, we do not know why he left the SA but it could be because of the difficult lifestyle for the young people in the SA at the turn of the last century. These young people preached 7 days a week and then they had church services at night. The work was often tiring and they were often hot or cold and hungry. The following timeline will show you how he moved around during his time with the Salvation Army:

June 16, 1897 Springfield, MO
Aug 28, 1897 Belleville, IL
Jan 5, 1898 St. Louis #8, MO
Mar 16, 1898 St. Louis #11, MO
May 15, 1898 Maquoketa, IA
June 11, 1898 Champaign, MO
Jan 1, 1899 St. Louis #12, MO
Feb 8, 1899 Cape Girardeau, MO
May 9, 1900 Name removed from roll

The #8, 11, and 12 behind St. Louis indicate different churches within that area.

In response to my questions about the Salvation Army and the young people that served as "soldiers", the National Archives of the Salvation Army replied, "Yes, it was very common for young people to join the Salvation Army and be sent anywhere in the United States. They traveled all over the place, trying to get local units of the Army set up and going. "
[In response to my question about why Joseph would have quit]..."As for Joseph leaving, he probably just quit. It was very common for officers to leave, as the work was tough, especially in 1899, the living conditions were rough and the pay little."

I ordered microfilm of The War Cry, the magazine of the Salvation Army from that era. I looked through many issues and only saw one reference to Joseph. It is found in the July 10,1897 issue of War Cry, page 8:

Cadet Joe Chatham, M.T.G., St. Louis 4, to be Lieutenant at Springfield, MO.

To learn more about the Salvation Army and its history, go to and view the history page.

For those who received the 1st Chatham newsletter in the mail. It is important to note that through the help of a cousin we were able to identify Joseph as being the young man in the picture on the front page of the newsletter, it is not Moses Chatham as we had believed. Through research on the uniforms of the Salvation Army and finding another picture of Joseph with some girls wearing the uniform of the Salvation Army we were able to positively say that Joseph is the young man in the picture an not Moses. The picture was taken circa 1897 in Illinois.