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A History of The Salvation Army in Flint, Michigan

In the Beginning...
1905 The history of the Flint Citadel Band runs parallel with the history of the City of Flint.  The Salvation Army began its work in Flint on July 26, 1893.  At that time, Flint was referred to as "The Vehicle City", with its citizens being mainly occupied in the manufacture of horse-drawn vehicles.

1926In 1904, the Buick Motor Company moved from Jackson, Michigan to Flint.  To secure the necessary skilled personnel, advertising was conducted in engineering centers in both Canadian and American cities.  Among the first new arrivals to be employed by Buick were four Salvationist bandsmen from Canada.

1950 It was not long before other Salvationists began arriving to find jobs, from Brantford, Canada; Perth, Scotland; Keighly, Leeds, Hasting, and Plumstead, England; and Belfast, Ireland.  It was natural that these former bandsmen from other countries would attend The Salvation Army and organize a band in 1905.

There were ten men and two women in the original Flint Citadel Band, organized under the leadership of Bandmaster Orwin Shoemaker, but soon many others joined the ranks.  Shortly after its official installation, the band made its first tour, visiting cities in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.     
 
In 1914, the band, under the leadership of Bandmaster David Nock, traveled to London, England for the great Salvation Army Congress.  The original plans were to travel with the Canadian Staff Band on the ship, "The Empress of Ireland", but these arrangements were canceled, and the band traveled to New York and sailed with the American delegation.  (In the early hours of May 29, 1914,  the Empress of Ireland was struck by another ship and sank in fourteen minutes. Only eight members of the Canadian Staff Band survived. 109 Salvation Army officers drowned. The few survivors told how the Salvationists, finding there were not enough life-preservers for all, took off their own belts and strapped them upon even stronger men, saying, "I can die better than you can.")  They practiced daily on the trip, and President Theodore Roosevelt often listened to their rehearsal.  Some weeks after its return, the band was invited by the President to take part in a reception in his honor in Detroit.

1976In more recent years, the band has traveled to cities in the eastern United States, the Midwest, and Canada.

The Flint Citadel Band has given continuous service to God and Man since that time, 52 weeks a year.

Flint Citadel Band - 2013The Band Today
Members of the Flint Citadel Band are all volunteers, with no one being paid, including the Bandmaster.  The membership is diverse in age, from 15 to 70+ years.  Occupations range from high school students to retirees.  There are teachers, nurses, engineers, homemakers, bankers, skilled trades, and other professional employment among the members of this all-brass band.  The Flint Citadel Band is also a family affair, with six pairs of spouses, and ten men and women with sons or daughters who also play in the band.  All personnel of this band are active members of The Salvation Army Church, located in Downtown Flint, Michigan.   While the personnel of the band during the early years came as a result of immigration from other countries, the majority of the current members are products of the Youth Band program at The Salvation Army.

During the month of December, ensembles from the band will play Christmas music in various shopping malls around Flint to raise money for The Salvation Army Christmas effort.

Bandmaster Matthew Rowland, is a Service Extension Director with The Salvation Army in eastern Michigan, and has been a member of the Flint Citadel Band since 19xx, and has served as Bandmaster since 2011.


An early flyerJuly 26, 1893 - the sound of singing, the ring of tambourines, and bursts of glad "Hallelujahs" are heard in Peers Grove in Flint, Michigan.  The Salvation Army has come to town, and officers from Michigan and Indiana, under the leadership of Major W.J. Cozens, Divisional Commander, are preparing for a bombardment of Flint.

The first indoor meeting was held that night in the Baptist Church, and the War Cry, (a Salvation Army publication,) recorded it this way:
  
"When the troops entered, the congregation arose enmasse to get a better view of the strangers.  Every seat was taken while a great throng crowded and pushed against each other in each of the three entrances."
The War Cry announced that a post was being started immediately under the command of Captains Florence Clifford and Williamson.

Flint CitadelLocations
Various churches housed the first Army meetings in Flint until the old Princess Skating Rink was purchased.  Next, "Fowler's Garage" on East Union Street was renovated to meet the needs of the growing congregation, afterwhich the corps was moved to a store front building on the west side of the 200 block of Saginaw Street, and later a building on West Kearsley Street.  In 1910, under the leadership of Adjutant and Mrs. Howard J. Clifford (brother to the first officer, Captain Florence Clifford), property on Beach Street between First and Kearsley Streets was purchased, and plans for permanent housing were underway.

Permanent Corps Building
In May, 1911, after much sacrifice and prayer on the part of the soldiers, and through the generosity W.C. Durant, and the efforts and generosity of the Corps Officers, Adjutant and Mrs. Howard Clifford, the building was completed and dedicated.  General Evangeline Booth, daughter of the Founder, and then National Commander of The Salvation Army in America, was on hand for the dedication. In 1921, a gymnasium, band room, and general Corps offices were added to the building.  In 1967, under the leadership of Brigadier and Mrs. David Payton, a new sanctuary was constructed, and the senior corps moved from the old building to the new, renovating the former building for youth activities.

In 1979, a building at the corner of Kearsley and Beach Streets was acquired.  This building was torn down and replaced with lawn, trees, and shrubs, and in 1988, property on the west side of the sanctuary was purchased for parking. 

BuickIndustry & Flint Citadel
At the turn of the century, David Buick, an internal combustion engineer, was producing some engines in Jackson, Michigan, but because he could not get financial backing there, he moved his Buick Motor Company to Flint where the backing was available.  He hired a mechanic, William E. Beacraft, from the city of Guelph, Ontario, Canada to begin building the first Buick engine.  Mr. Beacraft linked up with the struggling Army corps, and became its first Corps Sergeant Major.  (Succeeding him in this position been just nine men:  Fred Smith, Sr., Alex Murray, Percy Edwards, William Murray, William J. Cooke, Earl "Bud" Newtown, William Leitch, R. James Smith, and Dr. Joseph Simmert.)

One morning in 1904, Mr. Buick paused beside the bench of his foreman:  "Beacraft," he said, "we must hire more mechanics, and it's up to you to get them."  Beacraft smiled as he agreed to carry out the assignment; this was an answer to his prayer.  He knew where men could be found--not only skilled mechanics, but also dedicated Salvationists and bandsmen.  He contacted his home corps in Guelph, and soon men began arriving.  Salvationists, Morse and Randall, were the first two hired, Buick had his men, and The Army had dedicated bandsmen who marched the streets of Flint proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ crucified, risen, and coming again.

Word spread to Salvationists across Canada and overseas that there was work and a growing corps in Flint, and the crowds came seeking employment and a place in The Army.