CFOT HistoryThe earliest history of the Chicago-centered training garrison is difficult to trace because of its transient nature. Most of the Corps garrisons were used for a year or two, and then abandoned, only to relocate in another Corps. A few times, the city of Chicago was abandoned entirely by some garrisons, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, became the new training site. However, after a few months, these individual garrisons always returned to their Chicago Base.
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly how many individual garrisons active at any one time in this early phase. As in England, the early garrisons remained segregated as far as gender was concerned. Therefore, to have its own series of moves and changes. By 1897, not only were there several separate garrisons for men and women, but there was also a garrison totally devoted to training Swedish Cadets for work among the Scandinavians.
Perhaps the best known and most consistent corps garrison was the Chicago 1 Corps. Originally, Chicago 1, located at 558 West Madison, was known as the Princess Opera House and Rink. Before the Army acquired the building, it was a roller skating rink, as this was one of the fads of the day. When the skating craze died down, the owners were left with a huge building without any occupants. Major William Evans saw the high potential of the rink for Army purposes, and secured it in May of 1886. The rink was indeed quite useful, as it could seat two thousand people.
Besides having a huge capacity for religious services, Chicago 1 could house up to thirty cadets in what formerly was the Opera House. (When the Rink Garrison first opened, there were only five cadets in residence. This number gradually increased until the maximum capacity of thirty was reached. Here the cadets resided for up to six months, and then they were sent to the field as assistants or as probationary Lieutenants.
This training site was used for many years, housing at various times both male and female cadets. From all records , Captain Kenyon is listed as the first official local head of the program at the Rink.(After this, the records become confusing, and it very difficult to determine who was in charge of the various training institutions at any one time.) In the first days of this Chicago based training, ultimate jurisdiction of the training of cadets was held by the National Office in New York, and it remained so until 1905 when local jurisdiction was granted to Chicago for the running of the garrison.
Actual class work for cadets at this time is very sketchy, and not detailed schedule has been discovered. The Army did publish a work entitled One Year's Review, 1893 on the garrison which list the Bible, The Doctrines and Discipline, The Field Officers Rules and Regulations, and "other suitable Army publications," as the textbooks used in the garrison. Other practical classes such as; music, reading, writing, mathematics, and bookkeeping, were also included in the curriculum if it was necessary.
Classroom work was then supplemented by actual work in various Salvation Army Corps in the area. Cadets were expected to lead meetings, occasionally preach, and assist in various other Corps programs. Also, under the guidance of the local Corps, cadets learned the art of making house to house visits as a part of their practical work.