Andrew Loney — A Western Original
“IT TAKES ALL SORTS of pioneers to civilize a frontier,” wrote Portland author Stewart Holbrook. “What Hickok did for Abilene and Earp for Tombstone, Loney helped to do for East Portland, reportedly the toughest spot for street evangels in all the West.”
Andrew Loney was born in Canada in 1866. As the family moved to California in 1870, he was carried across the Isthmus of Panama on a native’s back. His mother died and his father, a drunkard, disappeared after they moved back to Canada. Raised by an uncle and aunt on his grandfather’s farm, he “first learned of there being such a thing as religion.” At 19 he made his way back to California.
In Stockton, two lassies approached him and asked him to buy a War Cry. “The idea of newsgirls struck me funny,” he recalled, “and I bought one, taking time to have a good look at the girls while getting a dime out of my canvas pants pocket. I read and re-read that War Cry.”
Good thoughts to the front
Some months later, he saw The Salvation Army come marching by. The rabble began to throw everything they could lay hands on at the marchers. “The good thoughts that the War Cry had aroused within me came to the front and I went out, determined that the least the roughs could do would be to leave the Army folks alone. I saw a tough-looking fellow pick up a stone. The next instant he had me on his hands–the stone was not thrown.” With the help of some U.S. Army soldiers he soon put the gang to flight. “I felt good taking the Army’s part, and for nearly a year I followed them nightly, fighting hoodlums, keeping the door and giving them money. I soon became so convicted that I could not attend to my daily duties at all. One night at a meeting I said, ‘Now or never,’ and without waiting for an invitation went over the backs of three or four rows of seats, fell at the penitent-form and was definitely converted.” Three months later he was an officer, the first cadet sent out from the old training garrison at 130 Market Street.
“The cesspool of Portland”
As a captain he was sent as a trouble-shooter to East Portland at the time of terrible persecutions in 1890 and 91. “Just before I came,” he said, “the biggest saloon keeper there had personally used a fire hose to break up one of our street meetings, badly injuring Major Henry Stillwell and several of our young men and women. The rum-seller was so pleased that he had a big oil painting made, showing himself in the heroic act, and hung it in his window.”
When a prominent rancher recognized his daughter as one of the persecuted, he sued the owner for $250, which made him meaner than ever.
Later, this rum-seller got down on his luck and made his way to the Men’s Industrial in San Francisco. Major George Reed took him in and he spent the last two years of his life there.
Water-melons to skunks
Loney found Portland a real fighting front. Grand Avenue was lined almost door to door with saloons. Salvationist street meetings were discouraged with all sorts of violence, from a watermelon on the head to a skunk loosed from a box. Members were pelted with everything evil minds could think of.
The town council passed trick ordinances banning street meetings, and the Salvationists just as surely broke them. After being released from jail they came back for more, still cheerful, smiling, and courteous.
“The only official on our side was the Chief of Police, from whom we rented our hall,” Loney recalled. “We had no protection from anyone else; consequently we were frequently mobbed.” They had to get slickers to wear on the march to protect their clothing. After the meeting, these were taken to the basement where they turned the hose on them, making them fit to wear the following night.
Loney thought that Stillwell never got over the injuries he received from the mistreatment.
Among others jailed with Loney were Captains “Joe the Turk” Garabed, and Lauritz M. Simonsen, later prominent officers.
The judge who tried them was fond of the bottle. One night a policeman found him down by the waterfront, hopelessly drunk. He picked him up and dragged him to the jail, putting him in with the Salvationists.
When released the judge thought of all the persecution he had inflicted upon the Army and started to pray, then and there becoming converted. He attended Army meetings for 13 years and never failed to apologize to the Army for the treatment he had given them.
Couldn’t stand themselves
“We got the city so tied up with ordinances against all band playing and meetings that they were simply a stench in their own nostrils,” Loney recalled. When a band tried to lead a Chinese funeral procession, they were arrested immediately. When the G.A.R. attempted to have a parade they had to stop beating the drum and put their instruments under their arms while marching down the streets of East Portland. People in the town got to feeling so contemptible and mean that they decided to do something about it. I was instrumental in getting them to join the two cities under one head, and for East Portland to accept the government of the West Side. That got rid of all the ordinances and we were free to play and march where we liked.
“We had converted 20 or 30 U.S. soldiers in the fort at Vancouver. The first time we marched after the cities joined we had these soldiers come over, and with a group of them in front and a bunch of them bringing up the rear, we launched out through East Portland. We expected trouble, but none came.”
Loney was married to Captain Mary Hansen in 1892. She was promoted to Glory in 1903, leaving four small children. In 1906 he married Captain Louise Eborall, a “Salvationist of the deepest dye,” who shared the remaining 24 years of his career. Altogether, Loney commanded 51 corps and a number of “sections,” in what is now the Western Territory. He was often sent to any place in the West that was having the most trouble.
After 40 years of officership, he said, “God was there to guide and direct the Army in the difficult times of those days, just as he is guiding and directing in the difficult times of today. He lives, and is unto us, today, all that we need.”
As a soldier Major Loney campaigned for ten years after retirement at the Portland Citadel Corps. He was promoted to Glory in 1947. Except for Lt. Colonel Ashley Pebbles, War Cry editor, he was the last of the early-day pioneers.
Sources: Western War Cry, 2/26/27
Photos courtesy of Western Territorial Museum