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.