The Story of Carry Nation
Marching as to War - After a preceding battle at Wichita, Carry Nation visited Enterprise, Kansas, where she received a black eye and a horsewhipping at the hands of the wives of saloonkeepers. Undaunted, she pressed on to Topeka, the capital city, for one of the great moments of her career. "Hatchetations" was the term Carry coined to describe her forays into illegal bars.
THE TRAIN bearing Carry Nation rolled into Topeka during the late afternoon of Saturday, January 26, 1901, and the. crusader rose from her seat in the day-coach and prepared for her triumphal entry into the capital city of Kansas, which she regarded as one of the major objectives in her campaign to sweep the saloon off the American continent. For Topeka, as the political center of the state and the headquarters of the liquor lobbies, was the natural Mecca of reformers with legislative axes to grind; and among temperance workers in the hinterland it bore an unsavory reputation, equalled only by that of Wichita, as a cess-pool of corruption and a veritable fountainhead of the rum traffic. But this notoriety was undeserved.
So far as enforcement of the prohibition laws was concerned, the situation in Topeka was better than in any other community in Kansas. About forty joints provided liquid refreshment for the city's 35,000 inhabitants, but in only a few were beer and whisky served over standard bars and with real barroom equipment. Many saloon-keepers possessed only delapidated ice-boxes and plain board counters, hidden away in small rooms behind cigar stores or restaurants ; and others had no fixtures excepting a few tin dippers in which the customer was supplied direct from the keg. No saloons operated openly, and there were fewer wholesale and storage warehouses than in Wichita, although Topeka was the logical distribution center for the great breweries of St. Louis and Kansas City.
A delegation of temperance and prohibition advocates, headed by the Rev. S. C. Coblentz, pastor of the United Brethren Church, met Carry Nation when she stepped onto the station platform at Topeka, but she had scarcely greeted them before newspaper reporters swarmed around and escorted her through the waiting-room, where several hundred persons had gathered to see the woman whose exploits had within less than a month made her the most talked-of character in the Middle West. A majority of the crowd was plainly hostile, and shouts of jeering laughter, with here and there a feeble cheer, arose as the motherly figure of the smasher bustled through the gates, her injured eye, a memento of Enterprise, still adorned by a cut of fresh beef.
She was driven to the home of the Rev. Mr. Coblentz for supper, and about eight o'clock yielded to the importunities of several reporters for the Topeka Capital and started on a sightseeing tour of the joints in lower Kansas Avenue, the principal thoroughfare of the city. She went first to Bert Russell's billiard hall, between Fourth and Fifth Streets.- A score of men who had been peacefully playing pool abandoned the tables and fled without their hats and coats when she appeared in the doorway, and as she scuttled across the floor toward the back room wherein Russell was reputed to maintain a bar, someone shouted:
"Hey, Bert ! Shut the door ! Here comes Mrs. Nation !"
THE DOOR slammed, and Carry Nation, crying for admittance in the name of God and American motherhood, began pounding upon it with her fist. It soon opened, and Edward Ryan, one of Russell's managers, came into the billiard room. Seizing Carry Nation by the shoulders, be whirled her about and rapidly propelled her toward the street in a manner very similar to that employed by saloon bouncers from time immemorial. She protested and struggled vigorously.
"Let me go !" she screamed. "Shame on you ! I've got no hatchet with me !"
"Get out !" ordered Ryan. "You've got no business here."
"I don't want to hurt your joint ! I only want to see it."
"Get out !" Ryan repeated. "And stay out !"
He shoved her across the threshold, and the pleased reporters promptly hustled her a few blocks away to the Senate, one of the few well equipped saloons in Topeka. But the doors were locked and barred, and she returned to Fourth Street and Kansas Avenue, where she approached Edward Myers' cigar store, which was popularly supposed to shelter a joint. This place was closed also, and pacing back and forth along the sidewalk was Mrs. Myers, carrying over her shoulder a heavy broom, which she raised threateningly.
"Don't come near here !" she warned.
"Get out of my way, woman," demanded Carry Nation. "I'm going into your murder-mill."
"You keep out of here !" cried Mrs. Myers.
Carry Nation calmly pushed her aside, and a moment later the broom swished through the air and came down with a resounding whack upon the crusader's skull. The pile of hair upon Carry Nation's head broke the force of the blow, but her bonnet was knocked into the gutter, and when she stooped to recover it, Mrs. Myers smote her upon that portion of her anatomy which chanced to be uppermost. Shrieking loudly, and with both hands clasping her bruised person, Carry Nation set off down the street at top speed, closely pursued by Mrs. Myers, who hit her once more and then resumed her proud marching before the cigar store. The crusader ran two blocks before she was overhauled by the reporters, and when they expressed their sympathy, she said:
"What does a broomstick amount to when one has been used to rawhides, rocks and eggs ?"
Meanwhile the crowd which had followed her since she left the home of the Rev. Mr. Coblentz had increased both in size and antagonism, and the reporters recognized many hoodlums and tough characters. A particularly offensive egg spattered against a wall within a foot of her head, and when the throng moved forward threateningly and half a dozen stones thudded at her feet, the newspaper men rushed her back into a restaurant, out of a rear doorway, and thence through another alley into Kansas Avenue, where they advised her to go home as quickly as possible. But there was no time to find a cab, for the mob swarmed into the Avenue, and, howling threats and insults, pursued the crusader to the Capital Building, where she sought refuge in the editorial rooms while special policemen armed with revolvers guarded the street doors. Carry Nation was greatly frightened and very disheveled, and the beating she had received from Mrs. Myers appeared to cause her more distress than she was willing to admit, for when a comfortable chair was procured she seated herself very gingerly. But she soon regained her composure, and smoothed her wrinkled dress and straightened her poke bonnet so that it once more perched primly upon her graying hair. As she listened to the raucous cries of the mob, she said pleasantly to a reporter:
"Hell seems to be howling tonight !"
Thus Carry Nation began the most exciting and eventful month of her career. And likewise Topeka.
On the morning of her second day in Topeka, which was Sunday, Carry Nation held court at the home of the Rev. Mr. Coblentz, while from dawn to midnight a large crowd braved the cold weather and stood in the street before the house, waiting patiently for something to happen, and cheering and hooting her whenever she appeared at door or window. In other parts of the city saloon-keepers cursed her whole-heartedly, men gathered on street corners to discuss her spectacular foray of the night before, and office-holders interrupted the tranquil observance of the Sabbath with worrisome thoughts. More than a score of members of the Kansas State Temperance Union and of the W. C. T. U. called upon her, and the Salvation Army, headed by a brass band, paraded into her presence and serenaded her with sacred songs and music. During the afternoon she spoke at two temperance meetings, and David Nation, who had arrived from Medicine Lodge a few hours after her exciting adventures along Kansas Avenue, spoke at one. But his discourse was brief, for long before he had reached his peroration, Carry Nation revived memories of his earlier days in the ministry by plucking at his coat-tails and saying loudly:
"Sit down, Papa. You've talked long enough."
He obeyed promptly, but he was observed to glare at her and mutter incoherently into his flowing beard, and then and there, perhaps, was born the distaste for her society which eventually led to divorce. When she returned from these gatherings, practically every reporter in Topeka awaited her with eager questions about her plans, and she told them that she would attend the opening session of the annual convention of the State Temperance Union on the following day. Moreover, it was her intention to make a speech which she was confident would arouse the delegates and send them afield with hatchets and other implements of destruction. But officials of the Union promptly announced that she had not been invited and would not be allowed upon the platform; and next morning the Topeka Capital editorially commended their firm stand and thus attacked Carry Nation's plans for ridding Kansas of its joints :
The logical effect of the Mrs. Nation idea is anarchy pure and simple. . . . Nothing could be more damaging to good morals and more destructive to American principles of government than for such ideas to be seriously favored by a responsible and respected organization like the State Temperance Union. The Nation issue is likely to come before the Union today, and if so it rests with the sensible majority to see to it that the Union, if it takes any position at all in the matter, stands for the orderly enforcement of the law, and not for violence, hysteria and anarchy.
Despite the attitude of the Union's officers and the opposition of Topeka's principal newspaper, the Nation issue did, indeed, come before the convention. And with great profit to the crusader. She arrived at the meeting ball a few minutes after the session had opened and accompanied by the Rev. Mr. Coblentz and others of her supporters, marched down the aisle to a seat in the front row, while the delegates set up a great roar of enthusiastic greeting. Mrs. C. B. Hoffman of Enterprise, who was speaking, promptly abandoned her assigned subject and launched into a fulsome eulogy of the smasher, and many (If the women present wept loudly and cried "Glory to God !" when she described graphically how Carry Nation had closed the dives in Dickinson county, and how she had been attacked by a mob of angry females. Thomas H. Bain, a prominent temperance worker who had hitherto possessed great influence throughout the state, tried to halt the rising tide of violence with a speech in which he objected to Carry Nation's course as revolutionary and leading inevitably to anarchy and bloodshed, but he was hissed and hooted from the stage, and the convention shouted for Carry Nation. She was escorted to the platform, where she delivered a harangue urging the destruction of every saloon in Christendom, and announcing that she would move immediately against the barrooms which had disgraced the fair name of Topeka. Mr. Bain and other conserva-tives attempted to lead the convention into an endorsement of gentler methods, but after an acrimonious debate they were routed, and the delegates adopted resolutions favoring Carry Nation's campaign and severely condemning Governor William E. Stanley for what they termed his vaccillating attitude toward enforcing the prohibition laws.
While Carry Nation was thus gaining the sympathy of the women and other temperance advocates of Topeka, excitement was rising throughout the city, and the crowds which followed her about the streets were constantly becoming larger, and more boisterous and unruly. And the saloon-keepers, instead of profiting by the experiences of their brethren of Kiowa and Wichita, emulated and even excelled them in defiant gestures, and so blundered into a maze of stupidity from which they never emerged, and which was a prime factor in hastening the events that brought about their ruin. Thrown into a panic by Carry Nation's appearance and the certain prospect of trouble, they closed their doors on the morning after her first tour of Kansas Avenue, but that afternoon they boldly reopened. Moreover, they announced publicly that they would remain open, and began hiring guards, paying them $3.50 a day, to protect their stocks and fixtures. Two of the Kansas Avenue joints were patrolled by husky Negroes, armed with shotguns and under orders to shoot the first person who attempted to destroy the property ; and every saloon in Topeka employed from six to ten men whose sole duties were to eject Carry Nation and other smashers whenever they appeared. Several jointists installed trapdoors in their floors, operated by levers behind the bars, through which they hoped to plunge the crusader to certain injury and perhaps death in the basement, before she could wield her hatchet. The Missouri Brewers' Association sent six hundred dollars to the Topeka saloons to pay the wages of the guards, and offered to provide as much more money as might be required.
THE INDIGNATION these defensive measures aroused in temperance circles was increased by a widely circulated rumor that the Negro sentinels had been instructed to strip every woman who entered a saloon and cast her naked into the street ; and it grew into fury when the police discovered a plot to tar and feather Carry Nation, and reported that the wives of several jointists planned to horsewhip her at the first opportunity. But the clamor of impending trouble, much as it alarmed the Topeka authorities, failed to intimidate the crusader ; on the contrary she was pleased at the prospect of violence, for it added to chances of martyrdom through injury or death. She met the threats of the saloon-keepers with the calm statement that she was "not afraid of the rummies," and announced that she had begun the organization of the National Hatchet Brigade, to make concerted attacks upon saloons throughout the state. She appointed as her principal lieutenants Mrs. Lucy Wilhoite, of Wichita, and Mrs. Mary Sheriff, of Danville, who had already begun to lay waste the barrooms of southern and southeastern Kansas. Carry Nation also notified the newspapers that within a few days she would lead an assault upon the joints of lower Kansas Avenue, and warned the liquor men that she would smash heads as well as fixtures if any one interfered with her.
A PARADE of Home Defenders, which she also organized at this time, had been planned for February 4, but it was postponed because of a heavy snowstorm. Soon after breakfast on that day, however, Carry Nation concealed two hatchets under her cloak, and with seven other women, including Mrs. John White and Mrs. M. F. Oldham, went to the Topeka Cash Store and bought six shiny new hatchets for two dollars and fifty cents. The weapons were distributed, and then the eight crusaders marched two abreast down Kansas Avenue, each carrying a hatchet openly in the crook of an arm, while a large crowd trailed them with much jeering and yelling. The little group of prospective smashers trudged through the snow as far as Sixth Street. There they turned and went directly to Murphy's Unique Restaurant, which they found padlocked and guarded by a dozen men armed with clubs and ranged in line before the door. Carry Nation ordered them to stand aside, and when they jeered at her and brandished their bludgeons she cried:
"Smash them, women !"
The amateur crusaders hesitated, doubting the wisdom of a frontal attack upon such a formidable force, but Carry Nation waved her hatchet and rushed forward, calling loudly upon the Lord for aid. She was promptly seized by several of the guards and shoved back with such force that she fell to the ground, and before she could arise, a man ran from the crowd kicked her viciously and then scurried down the street. Scrambling to her feet, she returned to the attack, and was again repulsed, whereupon she raised her hatchet and prepared to hurl it through a plate glass window. But it was snatched from her hand by a man who operated the roulette wheel at a Kansas Avenue gambling house known as Big 803, and while the crowd roared with glee he ran down the street with the trophy tucked beneath his coat. An hour later, adorned by a blue ribbon, it hung above the bar of Big 803. Carry Nation called for another hatchet, but the men who guarded the restaurant had by this time been re-enforced by Negro sentinels from other joints, and more than fifty men attacked the crusaders, quickly scattering them. The other women were permitted to escape, but when Carry Nation would have fled also, she was seized by four stalwart Negroes and hustled down Kansas Avenue in the midst of a howling, hostile mob that packed the thoroughfare for three blocks on either side of Sixth Street. Two street cars, unable to move, were marooned in the midst of the jostling throng, and the occupants of a score of buggies and commercial wagons abandoned their vehicles as the mob surged down upon them. Carry Nation was beaten, cuffed and kicked, and several times she was knocked down by frenzied men who rushed from the front ranks of the mob and penetrated the ring of Negroes who were themselves unmercifully mauling their prisoner. Cries of "Kill her !" "Lynch her !" and "Where's a rope" arose from the crowd, and Carry Nation was in grave danger, when she was rescued by Policemen Boyle and McElroy, who placed her under arrest and took her to the police station, where she was locked in a rear room while the harassed officials tried to decide what to do with her. The women who had accompanied her on the ill-fated expedition, and other friends, were admitted, and after singing several hymns, attempted a chain prayer, Carry Nation directing them to stand in line and pray one after another without intermission. But this project was impracticable because the excited women would not await their turns, and soon all were singing and praying together. One became so enthused that she fell prone upon the floor and began screaming and kicking the planks, and nine knelt in a corner of the room and hysterically beseeched God to avenge the insults which had been showered upon their champion.
ABOUT AN HOUR after her arrest, the police prepared to take Carry Nation before Judge Charles A. Magaw of the Police Court, to answer charges of disorderly conduct, causing a crowd to collect, and inciting to riot. But she promptly said that she would have nothing to do with either Judge Magaw or his court, and that if she appeared before that august tribunal, the police would have to carry her there. Judge Magaw then ordered her released on her own recognizance, and she marched triumphantly from the police station, to learn from newspaper reporters that the senior boys of the Topeka High School, in a meeting at noon, had endorsed her campaign and had volunteered their services.
"I may use them soon in God's work," she said. "There will be more smashing tomorrow. I'm not afraid of these rummies."
Despite a heavy snowfall, restless crowds continued to surge up and down Kansas Avenue and other important Topeka streets throughout the afternoon of February 4, and there was frequent fighting between sympathizers of the saloon and adherents of Carry Nation, while the joints were packed with men who drank heavily and listened eagerly to tales of the unsuccessful attack upon the Unique Restaurant.
During the evening the throng became so large and so boisterous that the sidewalks in the down-town district were blocked, and the police experienced great difficulty in keeping lanes open for the passage of vehicular traffic.
Fights were of even more frequent occurrence than earlier in the day, and detectives reported that in the saloons there was much talk of lynching Carry Nation, and that serious trouble was likely to develop before midnight. Chief of Police Stahl immediately sought the advice of Sheriff Cook, City Attorney Bird and Judge Z. T. Hazen of the District Court, and at a conference in the Court-house these officials decided that rioting was imminent, and ordered every barroom in Topeka closed for forty-eight hours. After liquor had thus become difficult to obtain, the crowds were much easier to handle, and within a few hours they had dispersed and the city was quiet. Next morning at six o'clock, while snow was still falling heavily, Carry Nation met Mrs. John White and Miss Madeline Southard, an evangelist, on a corner near the Coblentz home. She gave each a hatchet, and the three hurried down Kansas Avenue, and, without warning, attacked E. C. Russam's restaurant and barroom. But Russam's guards were on duty, and the crusaders were defeated after a brief skirmish in which Carry Nation's hand and forehead were slightly cut by her own hatchet. They retired without doing any damage, and while Russam hurriedly locked and barred his doors, they plodded across the street through the snow and rushed into the Senate Bar, the finest saloon in Topeka, and so named because it was a favorite resort of Kansas statesmen and politicians. There they found Benner Tucker, the bartender, singing cheer-fully and polishing glasses in which he hoped presently to serve hot toddies to gentlemen who wished to fortify themselves against the cold weather. He was very busy, and was not aware that he had visitors until he heard the jangle of breaking glass and the thump of hatchets upon wood. Turning hastily, he saw Miss Southard wrecking the cigar case and Carry Nation and Mrs. White cutting great gashes in the fine cherry bar. Tucker rushed upon them with a revolver in his hand, and when Carry Nation lunged at him and aimed a vicious blow at his head, he snatched her hatchet, fired two shots into the ceiling and departed hastily through the rear doorway. Carry Nation obtained another hatchet from Mrs. White and returned to the assault, shouting loudly again and again : "For your sake, Jesus !" She ran behind the bar and smashed the$500 mirror, and then with her hatchet raked the long row of bottles and decanters on the sideboard. She picked up the cash register, raised it high above her head and hurled it to the floor; she smashed the lock of the refrigerator and tore the doors from their hinges. She slashed the rubber tube which conducted the beer from the tanks to the faucets, and then, using the tube as a hose, sprayed the walls, ceiling and floor, as well as her own dress, with the foaming liquor. She overturned a slot-machine and smashed it with her hatchet, and with a sharp piece of iron opened the bungs of half a dozen kegs of beer, so that more liquor spattered upon her clothing and onto the floor. Miss Southard and Mrs. White performed similar prodigies of destruction, and the floor of the saloon was littered with wreckage and was almost ankle-deep in beer and whisky when a policeman sauntered in and said:
"Well, Sister Nation, I guess we'll have to arrest you again."
"All right," she replied. "You came just when I wanted you to."
She turned to Mrs. White and Miss Southard.
"Everything cleaned up, ladies ?"
They assured her that everything breakable had been broken, whereupon she shouted:
"Glory to God ! Peace on earth, good-will to men !"
With the embarrassed policeman at her side, she strode into the snowstorm and marched proudly up Kansas Avenue, and a large crowd which had gathered before the barroom shouted wildly as she sang at the top of her voice:
Bringing in the sheaves,
Bringing in the sheaves,
We shall come rejoicing,
Bringing in the sheaves.
At Police Headquarters a charge of inciting to riot was made against her, and a few hours later she was arraigned in Police Court before Judge Magaw, who began reading the law which dealt with the offense. But Carry Nation interrupted.
"You might as well read a novel to me as that stuff," she said. "It doesn't cover my case."
"Do you plead guilty ?" asked the Judge.
"If you're trying to ask me if I smashed that joint," said Carry Nation, "I rather think I did smash it."
Judge Magaw refused to accept this statement as a plea, and adjourned the case until February 7, advising her to employ counsel. She was released on $100 bail, which was provided by friends, and as soon as she was free, she hastened to send a telegram of congratulation to Wichita, where a score of women had that day publicly bought hatchets, and thirty special deputy sheriffs had been sworn in to protect the saloons and prevent rioting.
Several saloons whose owners had failed to obey the closing orders of Chief of Police Stahl were raided by the Topeka police of February 6, and that afternoon Carry Nation addressed large and turbulent crowds in front of the Royal Cafe, the Senate Bar, and at various points along Kansas Avenue. Her last speech of the day was delivered from the steps of the Post Office, and just as she concluded, and before the crowd had begun to disperse, a man ran into the street from a candy store and gave her a handful of little pewter hatchets.
"Sell these to the crowd, Carry, and you can pay your costs and fines this month," he said.
THE CROWD surged forward with yells of approval, and Carry Nation promptly offered the hatchets for sale as souvenirs. They were quickly disposed of at ten cents each. A few days later, recognizing the value of the idea, she arranged with a manufacturer in Providence, Rhode Island, for quantity production. and thereafter never appeared in public without a supply of miniature hatchets in a satchel slung over her shoulder. She sold them at various prices, ranging from twenty-five to fifty cents, throughout the United States, Canada and the British Isles, and the proceeds assured her economic security during the remainder of her life.
A dozen prominent Topeka women who were prepared to provide not only moral support but necessary bail bonds, accompanied Carry Nation when she went to the Police Court on the morning of February 7 for arraignment before Judge Magaw. She had expected to be found guilty and sentenced to jail, but, instead, all charges brought against her by police were dismissed on motion of the City Attorney, who said that there was no city ordinance under which she could be punished for wrecking joints.
This left the prosecution of Carry Nation entirely in the hands of the state and county authorities, who had fixed her trial for February 14 in the District Court. Similar action was taken in Wichita, where she was under bond to appear before the March term of court.
Several Protestant ministers and half a dozen students of Washburn College, a Congregationalist institution, had volunteered to assist the Home Defenders in a raid which had been planned for the afternoon of February 7; Carry Nation, the preachers and boys, together with fifteen women armed with hatchets and crowbars, assembled in the office of Dr. Eva Harding, who had been active in prohibition work for many years. But the expedition was halted by the appearance of A. C. Rankin, a professional temperance lecturer, who a few days before had agreed to pay Carry Nation seven hundred dollars to make speeches under his management in Des Moines, Omaha, Chicago, and other cities. He now pointed out to her that the proposed assault upon the joints would jeopardize their plans, for if she were arrested again, as she certainly would be, she would lose both the money and the opportunity to extend her message to other states. Carry Nation promptly announced that the raid would be postponed indefinitely, whereupon a great tumult arose among the Home Defenders, many of whom had purchased new hatchets and were eager to use them. One cried:
"Mrs. Nation, you are a coward !" "I'm not !" the crusader retorted. "Do you want to smash a joint right now ?,
"Yes ! I'm ready this minute !"
"Well, sister," said Carry Nation, "you must learn to conquer the sin of impatience."
She walked calmly out of the room with Rankin, and after much heated discussion the women abandoned their project.
DAVID NATION had hoped to become his wife's principal advisor when he hurried from Medicine Lodge to Topeka, but she had refused to accept either his advice or his assistance, and had relegated to him the unimportant task of sorting her mail and answering letters which did not demand her personal attention. When he learned of the proposed lecture tour, he plaintively expressed a desire to accompany her, and proudly exhibited a new blue suit. (He always wore his Grand Army uniform.) But she said to him: "No, Papa. You are too old for this trip. You go back to Medicine Lodge and take care of the place while I am away."
So on February 8 Carry Nation left Topeka on her first lecture tour, accompanied by Rankin, the Rev. F. W. Emerson, and five women, including Miss Madeline Southard. Her route after leaving Topeka led her through southwestern Iowa, and her tour of that state was a veritable triumphal procession. Enormous and friendly crowds greeted her at Stuart, Atlantic, Adair and other towns, and as she leaned from the train platform women held up their babies to be kissed, and men fought for the privilege of shaking her hand and buying souvenir hatchets. More than five thousand persons packed the railroad station at Des Moines when she arrived during the late afternoon of February 9, and she was so impressed by their vociferous welcome that she announced her intention of rewarding them by smashing a saloon or two. But she changed her mind when the chief of police informed her that if she did so, she would be locked up and prosecuted to the full extent of the law, for bar rooms operated legally in Iowa and were entitled to police protection.
WHILE Carry Nation was enjoying the favor of the great throngs which flocked to see her as she journeyed triumphantly through Iowa and Illinois, stirring events were occurring in Topeka, and the situation there was rapidly becoming, so critical that many citizens seriously considered asking Governor Stanley to call out the militia to prevent the rioting and blood-shed that appeared almost inevitable. Store-keepers reported that scores of women were daily buying hatchets, axes and crow-bars ; members of the State Temperance Union and of the W. C. T. U. paraded the streets wearing miniature hatchets and the white ribbons of their organizations ; frequent meetings were held at which ministers of the Gospel lashed their hearers into fury with diatribes against liquor ; and students of Washburne College, perhaps as eager for excitement as for the abolition of the barrooms, began the construction of a great three-hundred-pound battering ram, and announced their intention of joining the raiders whenever another expedition was organized to march against the saloons. And amid the growing fervor of the temperance advocates, the saloon-keepers, with characteristic arrogance and stupidity, continued to operate their establishments at full blast, while Negro guards, armed with shotguns and clubs, swaggered back and forth before the doors and insolently threatened every woman who approached. The jointists reaped a temporary harvest of gold, for the barrooms were crowded night and day, but at the same time they sowed infinite trouble for the liquor traffic. They had no conception whatever of the enormous power that was solidly massed behind Carry Nation, and laughed incredulously when the extraordinary results of her campaign were set before them in the newspapers.
THE POSITION of the Topeka saloons, I which had been insecure since that memorable day in June when Carry Nation's buggy rolled down the dusty road from Medicine Lodge to Kiowa, became even more precarious when, on February 7, seventy business men held a meeting and voted unanimously to employ force, if necessary, to rid the city of joints. This action was followed two days later by the announcement that one hundred men, all pledged to smash saloons, had been organized into ten companies of ten men each. The generalissimo of this temperance army was the Rev. Dr. J. T. McFarland, pastor of the First Methodist Episcopal Church. His principal lieutenants were C. R. McDowell, the Rev. M. T. McKirahan, and the Rev. F. W. Emerson. Dr. McFarland gave notice of a great mass meeting to formulate plans for an attack upon the barrooms.
This clarion call to arms by some of Topeka's most prominent citizens aroused tremendous enthusiasm among the temperance workers, and brought great perturbation to the opponents of the prohibition amendment ; for it was clear that whether or not the gathering accomplished anything, such a display of force and indignation was certain to intimidate state and county officials, as well as members of the State Legislature. But the mass meeting was destined to have far-reaching results, and was of vast importance even if considered only as a stupendous endorsement of Carry Nation's methods. More than three thousand men crowded into the Auditorium, and when Chief of Police Stahl declared in a rousing speech that with proper judicial cooperation he could close the joints in twenty-four hours, they promptly, and unanimously, adopted a resolution asking Judge Charles A. Magaw to resign, and another demanding his removal from office by the City Council. Many of the men who stirred restlessly during the speeches were armed with hatchets and clubs, and there was much talk of immediately destroying the joints, and of burning the buildings which they occupied. But the counsel of cooler heads prevailed, and the meeting finally voted to warn the saloon-keepers to close the barrooms before noon of February 11, and to ship all bar fixtures and liquor out of Topeka before dusk of February 15. A special Committee of Public Safety, comprising A. H. Vance, H. R. Hilton, J. C. Smith, J. W. Gleed and Peter Heil, was appointed to notify the jointists, and to call upon the state and county authorities for a strict enforcement of the law. Chief Stahl also urged the liquor men to shut their doors, if for no other reason than their own safety.
FOR THE FIRST time since Carry Nation began her devastating march, the saloon-keepers were really frightened, and next morning the only open saloon in Topeka was Finney's Bar in Jefferson Street, which was closed by the police before noon. That evening six hundred citizens of Wichita held a similar mass meeting and demanded action by the state and county officials ; and Mrs. A. M. Hutchinson, State President of the W. C. T. U., who had apparently revised her opinion of Carry Nation, broadcast a fiery message urging a general uprising against saloons throughout the state. As a retaliatory measure, the jointists attempted, though with scant success, to reorganize the Order of the Mystic Brotherhood, a militant society which had been popular when Kansas laws permitted drinking clubs, and for many years was active in the fight against the constitutional amendment. But during the next few days, when whisky and beer were actually almost unobtainable, Topeka was quiet, and the saloon-keepers went gloomily to work dismantling their barrooms and hauling away their fixtures and liquors.
Carry Nation returned to Topeka on the morning of February 14. She was arraigned soon thereafter in the District Court, but the hearing was adjourned until February 18, and her bond continued. She was greatly pleased to learn of the mass meeting and of the tremendous public support that her cause had gained, but she emphatically disapproved the peaceful methods of the Committee of Public Safety ; she advocated more violence, and urged an immediate invasion of the joints and the destruction of the bars and liquor before they could be removed.
"We must smash these murder-mills !" she cried. "If we let them take away their poison they will sell it somewhere else and continue to murder souls."
But no one encouraged this attitude, and at length she agreed to postpone further direct action until the time limit fixed by the Committee's ultimatum had expired ; and busied herself establishing a home in a building which she later purchased with the intention of giving it to the W. C. T. U. She set up her menage in two small rooms, but she had little money, and they were meagerly furnished; as they would have been, probably, had she possessed great wealth. For she accepted as a veritable command of God the Biblical injunction to abstain from lavish display and thoughts of pride and comfort. "I covet the humblest walk," she wrote. "I will not have a piece of fine furniture. I have no carpets on my floors. The little cupboard I use is made of a dry-goods box, with shelves in it, and a curtain in front. My dishes, all told, kitchen and dining-room, are not worth five dollars. This is what the poor have, and better than some have. It is good enough. It is better than my blessed Lord had. I desire nothing better. I would feel like a reprobate to fill my room with expensive furniture, using money that I could feed the hungry with, clothe the naked, doing things that would please my Lord. I used-to delight in cut-glass, china, plush, velvet and lace. Now I can say vanity of vanity, all is vanity."
ON THE NIGHT Of February 15, after a survey of the city, the Committee of Public Safety announced that all of the Topeka joints had been closed save two or three small places in outlying sections, and that the owners of these were so fearful of invasion that they operated with great caution, and were able to dispense only small quantities of liquor. But the Committee found that with the exception of forty barrels of whisky which had been shipped to Kansas City, the bar fixtures and stocks of liquor had not been sent out of Topeka, but had been stored in barns or otherwise concealed. In temperance circles there was wild rejoicing over the fact that the capital of the state was at last practically free of joints, but there was also great indignation at the failure of the saloon-keepers to obey the Committee's ultimatum to the full. And Carry Nation, already restive under the restraint imposed by her promise to postpone a renewal of her campaign against the barrooms, took advantage of the public exasperation and immediately began preparations for an extensive raid.
By the late evening of February 16, plans for the foray had been completed, and on Sunday the 17, Topeka passed through one of the most turbulent periods in its history. From six o'clock in the morning until dusk, the streets resounded to the thunderous tread of the embattled temperance hosts, the rush and roar of angry mobs, and the clanging gongs of patrol wagons; while the jangle of breaking glass and the thud of axes, hatchets, sledge-hammers and battering rams against doors and interior woodwork scantily indicated the fierceness of the smashing multitude. Carry Nation, her hatchet flashing always in the van of the attack and her voice raised lustily in commands and shouts of encouragement, was arrested four times, and when the day's work had been done she was a prisoner in the county jail, with two warrants sworn out against her.
The gloomy corridors under the east steps of the State Capitol were the designated rendezvous, and before the sun rose over the Kansas plain on the appointed day, men and women were making their way thither from all parts of the city, many singing hymns and praying as they marched through the streets. Carry Nation's chief of staff, the Rev. F. W. Emerson, pastor of the Christian Church, had posted armed guards about the building and grounds, and no one was permitted to enter the lines without displaying a white handkerchief knotted about the throat. So efficient were the sentinels that several saloon sympathizers, though properly dressed, were detected and unceremoniously chased from the vicinity. The muster of the crusaders proceeded with military precision, and presently the halls swarmed with an eager, excited throng conservatively estimated at five hundred persons, of whom some three hundred were men. In accordance with . instructions, the latter bore axes, sledgehammers and crow-bars, while the women carried hatchets. On the lawn before the, building lay the artillery—the huge battering-ram constructed by students of Washburn College. Six youths, each armed also with a sharp and shiny hatchet, were ready to send it crashing against the fortresses of the Rum Demon.
Six o'clock had been fixed as the time for the march to begin, but unfortunately Carry Nation overslept, and it was not until an hour later that she appeared in company with Dr. Eva Harding. She wore her usual costume of poke bonnet and black alpaca dress, but the somberness of the ensemble was relieved by a white silk handkerchief looped about her throat, and by the fierce gleam that shone from her eyes. In each hand she carried a bright new hatchet with a red blade and a thin strip of white ribbon dangling from the haft. The restless crusaders greeted her with a great roar of welcome, but she stilled the clamor with an imperious gesture, and after a moment of effective silence, cried:
"Get in line there, men and women ! We must be about the Lord's work now."
Brandishing their weapons and shouting enthusiastically, they jostled each other until all had found their place. Then Carry Nation called:
"All ready? Then follow me !" Her voice rose triumphantly. "Onward for Jesus !"
She strode vigorously across the lawn, her hatchets held high above her head and arranged one over the other to form a rude cross. Close at her heels followed Dr. Harding, similarly armed ; the half dozen college boys dragging the battering ram and shouting "Rah ! Rah ! Rah ! Carry Nation Rah ! Rah ! Rah !"; and finally successive companies of smashers under the command of the Rev. Mr. Emerson, C. R. McDowell, Miss Madeline Southard, Mrs. Rose Crist, and other capable captains. They poured tumultously from the corridors into the misty light of early morning, and as they tramped behind their leader a mighty volume of song swept upward from five hundred throats :
Onward, Christian soldiers,
Marching as to war;
With the Cross of Jesus
Going on before.
The crusaders moved out of the rendezvous marching two abreast, but those in the rear ranks eagerly pressed forward, and when the column turned into Kansas Avenue it deployed without command into a semblance of company front, filling the wide thoroughfare from curb to curb. The singing had now ceased, and for a few moments there were no sounds save the shuffling of many feet, the low hum of conversation, and an occasional pious ejaculation.
Then Carry Nation set up a shout of "Smash ! Smash !" and presently the mass was advancing triumphantly to the cadenced cry of :
"Smash ! Smash ! For Jesus's sake, smash !"
Since Carry Nation never made any secret of her plans, Sheriff Cook and Chief of Police Stahl had known of the impending raid, and had stationed a large posse of special deputy sheriffs and almost the entire police force in Kansas Avenue, with instructions to halt and disperse the raiders with a minimum of force. But they were scattered along several blocks, and so were compelled to meet the temperance army in open instead of massed formation. Isolated from each other by the steady forward sweep of the mob, and prevented by their orders from effectively using revolvers and clubs, they were soon overwhelmed and engulfed by a heaving sea of white handkerchiefs. No force then remained to stop Carry Nation and her cohorts, and they swept tumultuously down the street, while trolley cars rattled out of the danger zone, vehicles and pedestrians hurriedly turned into side streets, and doors and shutters banged as owners of restaurants and other places wherein liquor had been sold prepared to resist attack. For the moment, however, Carry Nation had no intention of invading joints in Kansas Avenue ; she was determined to lay waste Edward Murphy's Unique Restaurant in East Sixth Street, and avenge the defeat inflicted upon her by Murphy's guards on February 4. Four policemen guarded the barred and padlocked door when the crusaders swarmed before it, and the smashers hesitated to attack the row of menacing clubs. But Carry Nation was undaunted. She sprang forward, sent a hatchet hurtling through a window, and cried: "Don't pay any attention to them ! Smash ! Smash !"
She struck viciously at the nearest policeman, and the crowd surged about the officers and pushed them aside. Cheering madly, the college boys rushed forward with their battering ram, and soon broke the glass in the front of the building. A score of men cut away the doors and window frames with axes,and, shrieking frantically, the crusaders followed Carry Nation into the restaurant, scrambling over the sills and pouring through the doorways ; while the whole structure shook under the impact of the battering ram as the students attacked the walls. Once inside, the mob halted to permit Carry Nation to strike the first blow, and with a shout of triumph she demolished a valuable mirror with her remaining hatchet. Her followers then rushed about overturning furniture, hacking chairs and tables, cutting holes in the walls and floor, and shattering crockery and glassware. But Carry Nation took no further part in the destruction, for scarcely had the mirror fallen before her strokes than two policemen who had wriggled through the throng seized her and hustled her outside, although they were severely cuffed and pummelled before they reached the street. There other officers came to their aid, and, kicking and fighting, she was hurried away, screaming as she went :
"Smash ! Smash ! Don't stop while I'm gone !"
She was released on her own recognizance at Police Headquarters, and im-mediately returned to East Sixth Street, where she found the smashers milling before the restaurant, the interior of which was piled high with wreckage. Bereft of her leadership, they were uncertain what to do next. The Washburn College students, however, were in no such dilemma ; they continued to swing their battering-ram against the building, but with scant success, for their excitement was so great that they failed to co-ordinate their efforts, and seldom struck twice in the same place. The crusaders yelled wildly when Carry Nation appeared, and quickly surveying the result of their fury, she cried:
"Praise God ! Another joint gone !"
She snatched two hatchets from the hands of a women near her, brandished them above her head, and shouted:
"Follow me ! I know another place !"
With her victorious legions swarming behind her, so excited that all thought of orderly movement had been forgotten, she marched up East Sixth Street, loud-ly singing a hymn. The police and deputy sheriffs had combined forces and hovered on the flanks of the throng, but were unable to check its mad progress.
Indeed, they were kept busy preventing an attack upon the crusaders by another and an even larger crowd. For once more Topeka was in an uproar ; hundreds of citizens, attracted by the cries of the smashers and the crashing sounds of demolition, had flocked to the vicinity of the Unique Restaurant, and more than a hundred saloon sympathizers, who appeared to be well organized, gathered in a compact body and shouted threats and curses at Carry Nation and her followers. Clubs were soon obtained, and scores of men repeatedly attempted to storm the police lines, but were driven back. Several minor rearguard actions were fought as the temperance forces streamed through the street, but serious trouble was averted, and at length Carry Nation reached her objective—a livery stable opposite the Santa Fe Hospital, wherein several hopeful saloon-keepers had stored fine bars and other fixtures. The stable was heavily guarded, but the defenders fled when they saw the size and the obvious ferocity of the mob which confronted them, and the doors and windows were quickly demolished. But actual invasion was delayed by a clash between the Rev. F. W. Emerson and Dr. Eva Harding, who called the minister a liar during an altercation which arose when he tried to calm an extremely excited woman. Mrs. Emerson immediately flew at Dr. Harding, and a fight between the two women was prevented only by the prompt interference of friends. The smashers then set about their work and rushed into the stable, where the bars and fixtures were overturned and damaged beyond repair. Some were so splintered that they were of no further use except as kindling.
A policeman arrested Carry Nation as she strode triumphantly into the street after this exploit, but at Police Headquarters she was again released, and returned to the scene of action in time to lead her warriors against a cold storage plant in Polk Street, owned by Charles and William Moser. This establishment was known to supply ice to the saloon-keepers, and was also believed by Carry Nation to handle whisky and beer in wholesale lots. The mob chopped away doors and windows and invaded the butter and ice-rooms, ruining a considerable quantity of provisions and hacking the woodwork, but failed to find any liquor. Sheriff Cook and Chief Stahl awaited Carry Nation when she left the plant, and arrested her on a warrant sworn out by Edward Murphy. She was driven to Headquarters in a patrol wagon guarded by half a dozen policemen, and when the authorities demanded bail for her release, the bond was signed by Nick Chiles, Negro politician and reputed owner of a saloon. But this required several hours, and by the time she was again on the streets the crusaders had dispersed to attend services at their respective churches, and the city was comparatively quiet, although turbulent crowds continued to roam Kansas Avenue and stand curiously before the places which had been subjected to the fury of the prohibitionists. Late that afternoon a mass meeting was called to plan more raids, and Carry Nation had just launched into a fiery speech when a policeman appeared with a warrant sworn out by the Moser brothers.
"What's the charge ?" she demanded. "Defacing property," said the policeman.
"That's a lie !" she shouted. "I never defaced any property. I destroyed it !
You get that warrant fixed or I won't go a step !"
Nevertheless, she did. But when the policeman attempted to take her to Headquarters, a large and threatening crowd gathered, and he was compelled to draw his revolver and threaten to shoot. Nick Chiles again signed the bond, and she said to him:
"You are very kind to me."
Chiles bowed and said that he was glad to be of service.
"When I get time," she continued, "I'll smash your joint for you."
The mass meeting from which Carry Nation had been taken was thrown into a furor of indignation by her arrest, and many urged an expedition to rescue her from prison. Neither measure was attempted, however, and the gathering adjourned after listening to several fiery speeches. Carry Nation was arraigned in the District Court before Judge Hazen on February 18, together with C. R. McDowell, Mrs. Rose Crist and Miss Madeline Southard, against whom warrants had also been issued. Judge Hazen denied Carry Nation's petition for a change of venue, spoke briefly and disparagingly of "this crazy woman and her deluded followers," and directed her to put up a bond of $2,000 to keep the peace.
"I won't do any such thing !" she cried.
"Then I shall remand you to the county jail," said Judge Hazen.
"All right, your dishonor," said Carry Nation. "God will take care of me."
McDowell was released on a peace bond of $1,000, and Mrs. Crist and Miss Southard provided bail of $500 each. Carry Nation persisted in her refusal, and went to prison. She sang and prayed hysterically as she was led through the corridors of the Court House, and when she reached the jail, she insisted upon crossing the threshold on her knees.
Source: Outlook August 14, 1929
1920's PROHIBITION RESOURCES
Carry Nation - Part 2
The Carry Nation Story continued
Speakeasies in Detroit - 1929
10 - 20,000 Speakeasies created strong competition and lowered profitability
Keeping Prohibition out of Party Platforms - 1927
Article discussing problems of Political Parties in relation to Prohibition
Repeal of Prohibition - 1933
Survey of current state of Prohibition Repeal Votes
World Prohibition - 1923
Most of the World was considering Prohibition in 1923
Prohibition Killings - 1927
Killings by Federal Agents Enforcing Prohibition
Prohibition Category Page at 1920sEra.com
Alcoholic Poisoning - 1926
Increased deaths caused by drinking bootleg beverages