Go to ...
RSS Feed

September 25, 2018

As Oswego Salvation Army Moves To New Home, Memories Of The Past Reflect Long History In Community


Twenty-four girls from the Oswego Troop of the Girl Guards of the  Salvation Army are shown in front of the original citadel location on West  First and Cayuga streets (now approximately Harbor Optical) on July 18, 1927, prior to leaving for weeklong training camp. At the time, the Girl Guards were new within the Oswego Salvation Army, but the Oswego Troop was considered one of the most progressive in New York State. The guards, in uniforms grey faced with red, were accompanied by Captain and Mrs. John Kirkman. Troop members included: Bernice Durfey, Margaret Little, Grace Stowell, Agnes Porter, Sarah Perry, Dolly Green, Edith Decker, Christine Clarke, Doris Wiltse, Thusa Martin, Ruth Baitsell, Dorothy Sanders, Sarah Wheeler, Mildred Roberts, Mildred Manon, Doris Manwaring, Norma Perry, Gladys Shortsleeves, Mary and Mabel McEwan, Hazel Smith, Cora VanBuren, Elizabeth Thompson, and Margaret Kirkman. The photo was taken from a collection of recently rediscovered clippings and memorabilia.

Twenty-four girls from the Oswego Troop of the Girl Guards of the Salvation Army are shown in front of the original citadel location on West First and Cayuga streets (now approximately Harbor Optical) on July 18, 1927, prior to leaving for weeklong training camp. At the time, the Girl Guards were new within the Oswego Salvation Army, but the Oswego Troop was considered one of the most progressive in New York State. The guards, in uniforms grey faced with red, were accompanied by Captain and Mrs. John Kirkman. Troop members included: Bernice Durfey, Margaret Little, Grace Stowell, Agnes Porter, Sarah Perry, Dolly Green, Edith Decker, Christine Clarke, Doris Wiltse, Thusa Martin, Ruth Baitsell, Dorothy Sanders, Sarah Wheeler, Mildred Roberts, Mildred Manon, Doris Manwaring, Norma Perry, Gladys Shortsleeves, Mary and Mabel McEwan, Hazel Smith, Cora VanBuren, Elizabeth Thompson, and Margaret Kirkman. The photo was taken from a collection of recently rediscovered clippings and memorabilia.

Submitted Article

OSWEGO, NY – As the Oswego Salvation Army takes steps to move into its new home on West Second Street in Oswego, a collection of news clippings and memorabilia recently rediscovered, tells the tale of its rich history.

“There is a lot of history here,” Captain Kenneth Hayes said. “It is nice to be a part of an organization that has such a long history within this community.”

With the move, comes a look back to 1893 when the Salvation Army first opened its doors in Oswego, and has been in continuous operation ever since.

One of the Salvation Army’s famous members is Lt. Colonel Helen Purviance, who is considered the first “doughnut girl” of the Salvation Army during World War I.

Purviance was commissioned in Oswego from 1913 to 1924.

In 1917 while serving in France, Purviance and other Salvationists would conduct religious services, concerts and bake treats for the “doughboys,” according to National Salvation Army history reports.

“Using limited rations and an open stove, Helen and her fellow officers rolled out doughnuts,” the report reads. “They rolled the dough using a wine bottle and fried the dough over the fire. Soon the aroma drew the soldiers to the hut and they lined up, waiting for their turn.”

Purviance served more than a million doughnuts, known as sinkers, to troops during World War I.

“She fried the very first doughnut,” Captain Hayes said. “When she came back to Oswego, she helped the Salvation Army buy its first building right here on West First Street.”

Captain Hayes said The War Cry, a newspaper that was distributed by the Salvation Army, talked of Purviance and the first Salvation Army building, which was dedicated Aug. 1, 1920.

The report says that the three-story citadel at West First and Cayuga streets was “one of the finest and best equipped” around.

“The basement had a laundry where the poor would come to get their laundry done,” Captain Hayes said. “There was also a day nursery. Students from the State Normal College donated their time for that effort.”

“There are a few people around here who talk about that old three-story building. We’re lucky to have memorabilia and archives to carry on our history,” he added.

Captain Hayes notes that in the late 1930s, a Corps officer and father of two sons and two daughters named Bassett was assigned to Oswego.

His children attended school in Oswego and eventually, two of them, Todd and Joe, went on to become Salvation Army officers, as well.

“W. Todd Basset went on to become the United States National Commander of the Salvation Army before he retired,” Captain Hayes said. “They lived in the same house that my family and I live in now when they were boys.”

Other clippings unearthed recently tell tales of the Salvation Army’s efforts over the years during some of our nation’s roughest times.

During the Great Depression, the Salvation Army distributed bushel baskets of coal or wood for heat, and baskets of produce to those in need.

A report from 1953 talks about the holiday delivery of “sunshine baskets” to a local nursing home and prisoners at the jail.

The Oswego Salvation Army sold the original facility on First Street when it built its current home on West Third Street.

The building was officially dedicated May 12, 1957.

Eventually, the former building was taken down.

“Senior Captains Francis and Mrs. Spellman were instrumental in getting the Third Street site built,” Captain Hayes said.

While difficult to leave the historical building, Captain Hayes said he is looking forward to the opportunities that their new site on West Second Street will bring.

“The space we have is just not adequate anymore,” he said. “When they built this, they never expected what we are doing now. In 50 years, society has changed and needs have changed. I expect that 50 years from now, people will be able to share memories of things they did at our new location, too.”

The Oswego Salvation Army‘s “I Believe” campaign will help with renovations and expanded services at the new building, the former New York State Labor Department.

Information about the Oswego Salvation Army and progress updates on the new facility are available at http://oswegosa.com or by calling (315) 343-6491.

The Oswego Salvation Army is part of the International Salvation Army organization, which is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church.

The local citadel provides food, education, services and spiritual support to the local community.

Tags: , , , , ,

More Stories From Community

%d bloggers like this: