Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Carrie A. Nation Comes to Enterprise

At the turn of the twentieth century, a small hatchet would cause uproar throughout the state of Kansas.  A hatchet used, not to cause physical harm to Kansas residents, but in the wielder’s opinion, to save them.  That hatchet wielder was Carrie A. Nation, a major Kansas personality that people continue to talk about today.
A memoir written by Carrie A. Nation.
Nation, born Carrie Amelia Moore, had a difficult life before she began campaigning for the temperance movement.  For a number of years, she was married to Charles Gloyd, an abusive husband who had a problem with alcohol.  Gloyd would later die of alcoholism.  

After Carrie’s life with Gloyd was finished, she married David Nation in 1877.  Mr. Nation was involved in the clergy, and it could be said that he turned Carrie on to becoming involved with reform movements.  It was at this time that she became active in movements to outlaw the sale of alcohol.  By the late 1800s, alcohol was illegal in Kansas.  However this did not stop many saloon owners from selling the product.  Nation decided that she would put an end to that.

Nation’s work in the temperance movement began with the singing of hymns outside of establishments that sold alcohol.  In 1900 though, Nation began attacking such establishments by smashing the joints up with rocks.

As the story goes, Nation’s husband told her one day that a hatchet would be a better tool for causing such destruction.  Nation thought that it was a good idea, and carried a hatchet to each saloon from then on.
Hatchet pins like this were sold by the Women's Christian Temperance Union to raise funds.
On January 23, 1901, Nation visited the small town of Enterprise in Dickinson County.  Upon her arrival in the town, Nation met up with a small group of Women’s Christian Temperance Union members at the home of Catherine Hoffman.  Later that afternoon, members of the group left and headed towards the saloons in Enterprise.

The saloon owners had heard that Nation might be in town that day, so they locked up their establishments and pulled the shades closed.  Also, there was a ball game occurring in Chapman at the time, so many Enterprise men were out of town enjoying the game.  No one was there to stop Nation from doing what happened next.

With her hatchet in hand, Nation smashed the door of Schilling’s Saloon down.  Once inside, she broke the large mirror above the bar, and broke every bottle of alcohol in sight.  After these tasks were complete, she and the other women smashed many pieces of the furniture as well.
Schilling's Saloon after Nation's visit.  Photograph courtesy of the Dickinson County Historical Society.
After their work was done, City Marshal William Benham came to arrest Nation.  Benham led Nation away from the saloon, but it is reported that after having a word with one another, he decided to let Nation go.  Apparently Nation convinced Benham to do so because she said he was a “protector of the law breakers, rather than an enforcer of the law.”
Marshal Benham leading Nation away from Schilling's Saloon.  Photograph courtesy of the Dickinson County Historical Society.
Later that same day, Nation returned to downtown Enterprise to give a stirring speech on the evils of alcohol.  Mrs. Schilling, the wife of the saloon owner, attacked Nation, giving her a black eye.

While Schilling’s Saloon was the only establishment attacked by Nation, she did confront the owner of another saloon.  According to reports, the owner of this other saloon, Mr. Shook, promised to close his establishment down and abandon the business completely.

The next day, Nation was attacked again.  After beginning to preach about the evils of alcohol again, she was struck with several eggs thrown by members of the crowd.  She was then attacked by a group of women, who pulled at her hair and struck her with their fists and a whip.  Some claims state that three of the women who attacked Nation were prostitutes hired to do so.  It is unknown if this is factual though.  

After a visit to the courthouse later that day, Nation was free to go.  Her assailants were temporarily held for disturbing the peace.  Nation left Enterprise and continued to fight for what she thought was right.  It is because of this and her outstanding character that people still talk of Nation today.
Nation's hatchet that was used to smash Schilling's Saloon.
If you are interested in Carrie A. Nation, her hatchet used to smash Schilling’s Saloon in Enterprise is currently on display at the Dickinson County Heritage Center.

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