Welcome to the web archive of the SA Historical & Philatelic Association.
We hope you will enjoy reading the articles and information on Salvation Army history and
heritage that will be published here over the coming months.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Major John E. T. Milsaps – An Army Pioneer by Susan Mitchem

Major John E.T. Milsaps was a complex, creative and curious man. A collector of books, manuscripts, pamphlets, tickets, posters and photographs. Born in Houston, Texas in 1852, his grandfather, Issac, was killed during the Battle of the Alamo. His father served with the Confederate Army, and as a child, Milsaps made bullets for the Civil War. Milsaps moved to California to seek his fortune in mining, and soon met up with The Salvation Army in 1883. His talents for writing were soon recognized and he became the editor of the San Francisco War Cry. The War Cry of that time was his total creation. Lively sketches and drawings are among the articles and photographs. Milsaps decorated his diaries with these same colourful and fanciful sketches and creative ways of lettering.

The Major wrote to and knew all the leaders both in the US and the International Army. He was close to Booth family members, especially Emma and Frederick Booth-Tucker. Milsaps chose to remain loyal to the Booth family during the 1896 resignation of Ballington Booth. Milsaps was in the Headquarters building while Maud and Ballington were barred from the upstairs administrative officers. Milsaps was leery of Evangeline and felt she was involved in the Atwood letters of 1927-1929, which brought to light the “nepotism of Bramwell Booth and his children.” He was vocal in his support of the 1929 High Council, as he felt the family dynasty needed to end, and felt the favouritism toward Bramwell Booth’s children was a snub to all hardworking God-fearing officers. Although Milsaps disagreed with the cruel treatment Bramwell received, he did see the necessity in his removal as General. Major Milsaps saw Bramwell as a sick man who needed to retire for health reasons. He documented Army gossip and appointment changes in his diaries.

Milsaps wrote daily in his diaries (1852-1930). Each day, the weather, local and international news were recorded, along with personal financial and social transactions. He would list how much was spent on food, transportation and the dreaded property taxes. Milsaps used the bulk of his pension to purchase books and newspapers. He collected every War Cry published around the globe. He also collected S. A. books, pamphlets and kept a copy of every letter he wrote to Headquarters and other Army officials. His collection of posters has never been accessed by Army historians and collectors until recently. The posters are in good condition and the variety of them is amazing. Milsaps donated all of his materials (diaries and thousands of books) to the Houston Public Library. He began donating after 1900 and continued to until he died in 1932, allowing the library to build their collection around his donation. Today his diaries and materials are a fascinating insight into a man and his involvement with The S. A., along with the growth and expansion of the Army, especially in the West. The Major died in 1932 and is buried in his hometown, Houston. But his memory lives on through his writings and collections, a wonderful tribute to a not so well known Army pioneer.

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