International Beginnings Quickly Bring The Salvation Army to New York
The Salvation Army began in Great Britain in 1865, founded by William and Catherine Booth. Beginning as "The Christian Mission", with Soup, Soap, and Salvation as a theme, the name "Salvation Army" was initiated by William Booth in 1878.
That same year, in Philadephia, a small family of Salvationists, the Shirleys, who had emigrated to America, began open air meetings in the worst neighborhoods of the city. Ridiculed, cursed at, pelted with rotten fruit and vegetables, and even beaten, they persevered in their mission for two years with gradual but encouragnig results.
In 1880, General Booth decided to send Commisioner George Scott Railton and six young women soldiers to New York City to establish missions. Arriving in New York on March 10th, 1880, Railton declared their mission to the officials. New York City had an ordinance against open air meetings, so an owner of a variety theater offered his hall for meetings on the bowery.
Attending the following day was James Kemp, better known as "Ash-Barrel Jimmy." This nickname had been fastened to him since a policeman found his feet protruding from an ashbarrel into which he had fallen while looking for his hat during one of his drunken sprees. Jimmy was saved - the first official Salvation Army convert in the United States. The former down-and-outer reformed, joined The Salvation Army as a soldier, was commisioned Lieutenant in 1882 and served as an officer until his death in 1895.
Still not gaining permission for open air meetings, the Salvationists were filling mission halls at every service. Five days after they began their work, they counted fourteen rescued sinners. These they classified as "thoroughly saved, two; saved, ten; entering the King's Highway and nearly saved, two." In addition, they counted five persons who were "struggling to escape the bondage of Satan."
By March 1884, seventy corps were in operation with two hundred officers. At least one meeting was held every evening in the week and three or four on Sunday. Officers' incomes were modest - single officers, $5, and married officers, $10, per week, if weekly collections were sufficient.
The Salvation Army Moves into the Hudson Valley
In 1886, initial excusions were made into smaller cities in upper New York state, including Kingston. In the War Cry, the newspaper of The Salvation Army, a brief report noted "Grand Opening of Kingston, New York . . . Kingston Captured; Great Excitement; Devil Defeated. Hallelujah! Signed D.O. Bovill."
In 1898, The Salvation Army moved into a building on North Front Street; the Kingston Daily Freeman reported it was the "intention of the Army to conduct operations here for some time to come."
Ten years later, The Salvation Army purchased and moved into the Hoffman House. A brick chapel was quickly constructed on the adjoining lot.
An advisory board was formed in 1921, on which many of Kingston's leading businessmen, its mayor, and two judges agreed to serve.
Early in 1925, a new chapel was constructed between the brick chapel and the old stone Hoffman House. Services were held in the new chapel, freeing the older hall to be used as a gymnasium for juniors, Girl Guards, and Life-Saving Scouts. The Hoffman House itself served as the Army's emergency shelter and Home League Center.
1942 saw the establishment of an outpost in the Rondout district.
The Salvation Army Marches On . . . to Cedar Street
The process of relocating from the Hoffman House to the current location on Cedar Street began in 1965, with assistance from the Kingston Urban Renewal Agency, who provided funding for the new property; the new building was finished and dedicated in 1973. During the relocation process, a day care center originally run by the New Central Baptist Church became a Salvation Army operation.
Christmas of 1966 began the "Toys for Tots" program (a predecessor of the U.S.Marine Corps program of the same name) in conjunction with radio station WKNY. Over three thousand toys, underwear, and socks were distributed to needy children the first year.