Come and Join Us
Respect for the work of the Salvation Army may be universal. My great grandmother was a Congregationalist. That means, as a child I was frequently amongst people singing Come and Join Us, I often browsed the War Cry publication, and I even signed “The Pledge” of temperance – promising never to drink alcohol.
My friends know that it was a promise I never kept. With the Salvation Army interest in my background, I was delighted when I found this postcard.
The card is a real photo postcard featuring two ladies wearing Salvation Army uniforms. One proudly displays a medal. The card has no title but it does have an embossed seal in the bottom right corner which reads Craely Metropole Studios Cardiff. It has no postmark, but written on the reverse is, “With Christmas Greetings, Commandant Harpham, Captain Seymour, 175 Malefant Street, Cathays, Cardiff.”
On examination, the two ladies, the elder on the left appears to wear a superior quality uniform with the Salvation Army “S” embroidered on the collar. The younger wears a more utilitarian tunic with the collar emblems being darker and less decorative. Early research uncovered that the medal is a sterling silver and enameled Salvation Army long service medal. If auction house prices accurately reflect value such medals are highly collectable.
Google Maps helped me learn that 175 Malefant Street, Cardiff still stands. It is not however, a Salvation Army Hall but a dwelling-house. I checked the census returns and found no valuable references. The results came from the newspaper archives. With my head nipping, I called a friend seeking her opinion and she agreed that there may be merit in seeking the assistance of the Salvation Army archives.
After playing about with many variations, I settled on the name Harpham and immediately found something in the newspapers.
The Southern Times and Dorset County Herald of November 12, 1904 reported, “SALVATION ARMY FAREWELL SERVICE. On Sunday, the local corps of the Salvation Army bade farewell to Ensign and Mrs. Stannard, who for past 12 months have shown great zeal and energy in the work of the Salvation Army in Yeovil, and who left for Portland on Thursday. On Monday evening the farewell meeting was held and on Sunday next welcome services will be held to the new Adjutant (Adjutant Harpham, from Portland.)”
The Western Chronicle of November 18, 1904 reported, “Salvation Army. – Adjutant H. Harpham and Lieut. A. Seymour, two of the most useful and esteemed officers that the Army has ever had in Portland, have been removed to Yeovil. Ensign and Mrs. Stannard, Yeovil, have taken their places at Portland.”
It wasn’t a lot but at least I had found the two officers together in 1904. I also found an article in the Western Chronicle of July 14, 1905 referring to the funeral of a Mr. Day. This included, “the funeral service, was conducted by Ensign Stannard, late of Yeovil. Adjutant Harpham assisted. Lieut. Seymour sang a solo” and, Adjutant Harpham’s text was Rev, vii. 9. on which she based a very impressive address.”
Contact with the Salvation Army archives seemed instant and helpful. When an email arrived only two hours and 33 minutes after my request I was impressed. It presented me with:
– “The full names and ranks of the two officers pictured were Commandant Harriett Harpham (d. 1949) on the left and Captain Mary Seymour (d. 1965) on the right.”
– “Commandant Harpham became a Salvation Army officer in 1885 and long service medals are issued after 25 years of service.” (That matched the dating of 1910 or later, however, a couple of other details helped to narrow the date more; the rank of Commandant was introduced in 1916, and we know Commandant Harpham retired from service in 1921.)
This information opened the door to the census records.
Mary Agnes Seymour was born in Wales on March 31, 1875. She was the daughter of an Australian born cabinet maker, Edward Seymour and his wife Caroline. She was employed as a domestic servant known as Agnes in 1881.
Harriett Harpham was born in Worksop on June 10, 1862. Her early life isn’t as clear. The earliest record found was in the 1881 census. She was a 19-year-old general servant.
There is no way to know but in April 1901 both Harriet and Mary had abandoned their jobs as domestic servants. In the 1901 census both lived in Springfield Road, Neath. They are respectively aged 38 and 25 and are Salvation Army officers.
In 1911 the pair can be found in Brislington at the home of Caroline Seymour and her three children. Caroline is a widow and a housekeeper. She is also the mother of Mary Agnes Seymour. Mary Agnes is a 35-year-old Salvation Army officer, as is Harriett who is recorded as a visitor.
These ladies lived and worked together for many years. The fact that they use the same Cardiff address on the reverse of the card suggests that they were still together from 1916 to 1921. The story doesn’t end there since in 1939 they are still together and living at Castle House in Benfleet. Both are retired Salvation Army officers as are the majority of the forty plus other residents at that address. It may be a safe assumption that they remained together until Harriet died in 1949.
Most of the above would be undiscovered without the help of others. They have my gratitude.
The Salvation Army’s marching song, Come and Join Us, may be heard at YouTube.com. Sing along, if you wish, with the video that follows:
My dad always preferred the Salvation Army to the Red Cross because the “Sallies” were truly charitable, while the Red Cross briefly charged soldiers for doughnuts during World War II, as is detailed at https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2012/07/13/156737801/the-cost-of-free-doughnuts-70-years-of-regret
What a great article! Women were the backbone of service in many charity organizations. Thank you for bringing to light the story of two of these women.