Booth family treasures preserved when Florence soaks Carolinas coast
By: Major Frank Duracher
An impressive collection of Booth memorabilia, owned by Linda Nicks, was kept safe during the recent landfall of Hurricane Florence at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.
Nicks, the great-great-granddaughter of William and Catherine Booth, collects rare letters, books and other memorabilia handed down to her through her great-grandparents, Herbert and Annie Lane Booth. She began collecting Booth-related items as a teenager, learning about her heritage in connection with The Salvation Army.
She and her husband, Dennis, live just a few blocks from the Intracoastal Waterway. Fortunately, no flooding made its way into their neighborhood.
“When I visited my grandparents (Henry Booth, Herbert’s son) I would see many photos around the house of people in uniform,” Nicks said. “I also remember my mother telling me that when she was a child, she appeared onstage with Aunt Evangeline at Carnegie Hall.”
She also recalls often visiting her great-grandmother – whom all the children called “Grandma Booth” – Annie Lane, who was Herbert’s second wife. (Cornelie, Herbert’s first wife, died in 1919.)
“Grandma Booth was in her 70s, I believe, but to us kids she looked over 100!” Nicks said.
Among Nicks’ favorite items in her collection: an Army bonnet Dennis found on eBay one Christmas; rare Booth family photos; and an autographed book by Herbert titled Toys & Things (a collection of children’s sermons Herbert had written; each sermon corresponding to a child’s toy).
Referring to the bonnet, Nicks wore it years ago to a Wilmington Women’s Auxiliary fundraising event.
Her collection also includes an out-of-print biography of Herbert. Linda also cherishes letters between her grandfather, Henry, and General Evangeline Booth. A fragile copy of The War Cry from 1890 features her great-grandfather and Cornelie on the cover.
Even as a child, Nicks knew of her “Booth DNA,” but it wasn’t until circa 1982 when she moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, and became involved with the Army there that she learned so much more about the Army.
“The officers in Wilmington at that time took a special interest in me and invited me to my first (women’s) auxiliary meeting,” she said. “I joined the advisory board and later served as chairman.”
She continues a heavy involvement in both the advisory board and the women’s auxiliary. And for the past several years Linda attended the Southern Bible Conference.
Major Frank Duracher is a former Southern Spirit and War Cry reporter, now retired and living in North Carolina.