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CARRY A. NATION: THE ORIGINAL BAR ROOM SMASHER

I found Carry Nation to be such an interesting historical figure. I had to write about this strong woman and her “smashing” antics. I hope you enjoy reading about another Kentucky born girl!

Carry Amelia Moore was born in Garrard County, Kentucky on November 25, 1846. She was born into a well-to-do family and raised in an intensely religious atmosphere. There was evidence of insanity on her mother’s side of the family. Carry’s youth was mixed with emotionalism and stern suppression. The Moores moved several times and her father lost his fortune during the Civil War. The family moved to Belton, Missouri and Carry went to school and earned a teaching certificate.

Carry fell in love with a boarder in her parent’s home, Dr. Charles Gloyd. Carry and Charles married despite her parents’ objections. Charles was a heavy drinker and his drinking quickly worsened after the marriage. Carry, pregnant with their only child, left him and returned home to her parents.

Charles drank himself to death and died at the age of 29. Carry went back to teaching and lost her job for improper pronunciation of words. She was replaced with the niece of the man that had complained about her.
Carrie prayed that God would direct her to a second husband that would be able to support her.

She met and married David Nation. He was a minister, lawyer, and newspaper man and was nineteen years older than Carry. Although, he had many occupations, he was not a successful person and financial difficulties along with poor health took their toll on the marriage.

In 1890, the family moved to Medicine Lodge, Kansas and from there to Seiling, Indian Territory (Oklahoma). David fared better as a minister and Carry was not very supportive of his efforts and would correct him while he was in the pulpit.

Carry was always willing to help the destitute and became known as “Mother Nation” to those she helped. She worked with the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and as jail evangelist for Barber County where she became aware of the many inmates that had drinking problems.

By 1900 Carry had made a name for herself as an aggressive supporter of prohibition who would use rocks, hammers, or hatchets to destroy saloons and their liquor. She was concerned for the wives and children of drunkards and hated tobacco almost as much as alcohol. It was not unusual for Carry to approach a man on the street, pull a cigar out of his mouth, throw it down and stomp on it. A tall and heavy woman, she would march alone or with hymn-singing supporters into saloons and sing, pray, and shout while she smashed their fixtures and stock with a hatchet. Carry was often attacked and beaten badly and was arrested 30 times between 1900 and 1910. Her antics drew national attention to the issue of alcohol prohibition in the United States. Carry paid her fines with proceeds from her lectures and sales of souvenir hatchets.

David filed for divorce in 1901 on the grounds of desertion after 29 years of marriage. He stated he needed someone to run his house and Carry was never home.

Doctors back then had advised women not to wear corsets because of the negative effects on women’s vital organs. This advise was not heeded because they were fashionable. Carry refused to wear a corset and advised young men not to marry a girl who wore a corset!

Very much aware of the symbolism of her name, she registered “Carry A. Nation” as a trademark in Kansas. Her name was used in ways she did not approve. A club in New Orleans was named for her as was a winning American Quarter Horse. “All Nations Welcome But Carry” became a standard phrase in bar rooms across America.

Near the end of her life she purchased property at Eureka Springs, Arkansas, that included a farm and “Hatchett Hall” which she hoped would become a school to promote prohibition. Her final speaking engagement was at Eureka Springs in January 1911.

Carry died June 9, 1911 and is buried in Belton, Missouri, near her parents. Her grave was marked with only a white painted board with her name on it for some time. In 1924, the people of Belton placed a granite marker on her grave. It bears the epitaph she desired: “She Hath Done What She Could”.

Her efforts paid off in 1919 with the passage of the 18th Amendment banning “intoxicating liquors.” The era known as Prohibition lasted until 1933, when the 21st Amendment repealed the ban.
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22 Responses

  1. carrie nations was in eureka springs doing her work. carroll co. ar. was dry until after 1954/ the year my grandfather died. everytime they brought a vote up to make this county wet my grandfather would go out and defeated the measure. carroll co. is wet now but not until carrie and my grandfather went to their reward.

  2. I love reading your historical pieces! I think poor Carry maybe had the right idea, but she also had a screw loose. Even though I neither smoke nor drink, I don’t think she is the type of person I would care to be friends with. Of course, it seems she wouldn’t have cared. Self-righteous people like themselves best anyway. πŸ™‚

  3. Hi again JudyWhat a woman your Carry was! So ahead of her time. CheersJune in Australia

  4. It’s June from Australia again Judy. Have just been looking at the figures for 70 Plus and Still Kicking@blogspot.com and found viewer numbers from the USA have taken a leap since you mentioned it on your award suggestions.Thank you! Aussies are also finding it and Journeys in Creative Writing in very respectable numbers now as well, so I’m chuffed. And neither of them is yet seven weeks old!CheersJune

  5. What a woman, I would love to be that strong.

  6. Gosh Judy, I love reading your posts about history and Carry was certainly a fascinating person, don’t know if I would be one of her friends though… Cheers Kate x.

  7. This was facinating. I am so pleased I found your blog.Have a great day.

  8. Very interesting, Judy. I always get a history lesson here.Margie

  9. What an interesting post, Judy! And what a fascinating character Carry Nations was. I had known a bit about her work destroying saloons, but didn’t know the story behind her motivations. Interestingly, I have a little Carry Nations hatchet pin that my Aunt Ellen gave me years ago. Apparently, it was one of the items Carry sold to fund her activities.Thanks for the wonderful history lesson!

  10. Where do you find this stuff? You always amaze me! My wonderful mother and her amazing mind. What an interesting lady this woman was. Love you.-Anne

  11. I have never heard this story. What a incredibly brave person. However I doubt Carry and I would have hung out back then but I admire her courage! Love you!Leigh

  12. This is so interesting!! These are my favorite posts, the historical stories that teach us so much! She was a wonderful and strong woman! Way to go! Again, a wonderful and educational story that I will never forget…Hope you’re having a good week!!

  13. Fascinating. I’ve always known of Carry Nation but knew very little about her. I enjoyed reading her story.

  14. I really didn’t think I would like this post, but loved it. She really did have some issues and left her mark on society. Fort Worth was dry until the ’60s, I think. There were private clubs. Anyone could join, or there were places where you could BYOB into the bar and they provided set ups.I thought she was very odd even when I was a kid.

  15. Judy,I enjoyed reading this very much!Thanks!!Junie

  16. Sorry Kelly, I deleted the test and I did not keep it in my files.

  17. Judy, Sorry, I had written the post about the quiz and posted it twice and tried to delete one of them and it didn’t look like it ever deleted it, so I deleted the other, and now, of course, I’ve deleted them both. Blaaahhhh, ooohhhh well….Anyway, thanks for letting me know that you didn’t have the quiz any longer. Do you happen to remember where you found it? I enjoyed it so much! Don’t go to any trouble looking for it, but if it is easy to find, then, I’d love to get a copy of it. Seriously, don’t go to any trouble to look for it….Kelly

  18. Well, now I understand why she did what she did. thanks.I have memories of the ladies of the WCTU singing and preaching at us when I was a kid.

  19. Very interesting, Judy.

  20. hay judy, I just found your blog about judy’s store. I was a good read. I also looked at the books you read and saw that you like walking across america, you are the only person that I have seen walking across america by peter. i like that book also. i hope Obama hasn’t done a Ewards if he has I hope he doesn’t get caught.

  21. Thanks for the history lesson I really enjoyed that, what a woman she must have been!Diane

  22. Solo women have always had a very hard time getting noticed in our rip roaring country of independent men which is why most women get, and remain married in America. Even the smartest, most passionate thrive best with the presumed moral superiority of men; that began a pattern from when Jesus first spoke up for Mary Magdalen.

    Women bashing is the tradition to prove men right, and they do it very well. Carrie Nation got respect with her hatchet! Hopefully hatchets are no longer necessary, but it appears that superior authoritative men are, just as in Darwin’s animal kingdom.

    Women usually operate as part of a team, and often do more than their share to make a success of the goal. Usually, only men stand alone because of their superior strength and skill for self defense.

    Hillary Clinton should be running with her husband, as a team, for that reason, regardless whether the other men in the race choose to run with their wives. Natural human culture dictates the necessity, as it always has. Leaving Hillary out for media mashing is inappropriate for this culture still, and compromises women unfairly.

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