98-year-old sheet music donated to Salvation Army

Will be displayed on ‘history wall’

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ The Marshalltown Salvation Army was recently gifted a piece of sheet music from 1919. The song pays tribute to Donut Girls/Lassies, who prepared coffee and doughnuts on the front lines during World War I and II. The sheet music will be displayed on the Salvation Army’s history wall, located at its offices at 107 W. State Street.

In its 152-year history, the Salvation Army has served the physical and spiritual needs of millions of people around the world. The Marshalltown branch, located at 107 W. State Street, is the keeper of the group’s local history. Recently, it was gifted a 98-year-old piece of sheet music, which is set to become a focal point on its history wall.

“We only have things on display from the 1960s to the present, so this will be the oldest thing in our collection,” said Major Ben Stillwell.

The sheet music, which is an original copy, is entitled “Salvation Lassie of Mine.” It was written by Jack Caddigan and Chick Story, first published in 1919 by Leo Feist, Inc. in New York. The front cover features a Salvation Army Donut Girl/Lassie — the figure to which the song pays tribute.

These women prepared free coffee and doughnuts for soldiers (nicknamed doughboys), working out of small huts set up near the front lines of World War I and II, risking their personal safety. They also provided spiritual and emotional support to the servicemen. According to the Smithsonian Institute: “Margaret Sheldon and Helen Purviance collected excess rations for the dough and shell casings and wine bottles for makeshift rolling pins. They filled a soldier’s helmet with lard to fry the braided crullers. Later they improved their fried creations by combining an empty condensed milk can with a narrow tube of camphor ice to make a cutter in the true donut shape.”

“They were looking for a way to provide nourishment while working with rationed supplies,” Stillwell said.

The song’s chorus is as follows: A sweet little angel that went o’er the sea/With the emblem of God in her hand/A wonderful angel who brought there to me/The sweet of a war furrowed land/The crown on her head was a ribbon of red/A symbol of all that’s divine/Tho’ she called each a brother, she’s more like a mother, Salvation Lassie of mine.

“This was a World War I morale boasting song,” Stillwell said. “Even though the war was over, there were still people overseas, troop transports and servicemen in France and Germany.”

The sheet music was donated by a local woman named Carolyn Parry Weir. After the death of her mother in January 2016, Weir began the task of sorting through her personal belongings.

“She had a lot of sheet music. When I came upon this one, I thought of Major Stillwell and thought the Salvation Army would like to have it,” Weir said.

Stillwell said the Salvation Army is thrilled to have this type of historic piece in its possession.

“Reading through the sheet music, you can see all the nuances of its age,” Stillwell said, “[Such as] ‘This composition may also be had for your Talking Machine or Player Piano’ and ‘also published for band or orchestra, male or mixed voices.’ It’s a precious piece of our history.”


Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com