Thursday, May 10, 2012

Guest Post: Carry Nation Comes to Enterprise

Carry Nation and Marshal Benham.
Photograph courtesy of the Dickinson
County Heritage Center.
Starting today, our blog will begin to feature guest posts on Dickinson County history and heritage every now and then.  Our first guest post is brought to you by Amy Feigley.  Amy is a member of the Dickinson County Heritage Center staff, and also works as a paraprofessional educator.  In today's post, Amy tells us the history of Carry Nation and her fateful visit to Enterprise, Kansas.

The year was 1901. Carry Nation had been making her rounds in Kansas smashing saloons. But, on the twenty-third day of January, she paid a visit to this sleepy little town, which was nestled in Dickinson County along the Smoky Hill River. At seven o'clock in the morning while most residents of this town were beginning their day, Carry Nation was plotting hers.

Mrs. Nation was brought to this town by Catherine Hoffman, who was the wife of C.B. Hoffman and mother of Mayor Emmett Hoffman. Mrs. Hoffman was, what one might say, a believer in women's rights . Once arriving in Enterprise, Mrs. Nation made her way to the Hoffman residence. While there, she remained in seclusion for several hours. At three o'clock that afternoon, Mrs. Nation, along with Mrs. Hoffman and several other women from the community, marched down main street, with her ever so famous hatchet nestled in the crook of her left arm and singing loudly 'Am I a Soldier of the Cross?"

Having been informed of Mrs. Nation's announcement, local saloon owners John Schilling and William Shook, drew their shades and locked their doors. They, along with other residents of Enterprise, waited to see what Mrs. Nation had planned next. She made her first stop at Schilling's saloon. After attempting to enter the building, she then shouted to Schilling. When a reply from Schilling was not made, she proceeded by demolishing his bar. With just a few crashing blows, she managed to "break the place up.” She smashed the mirror, the bar, knocked off decanters and bottles. Then, along with the aid of a mysterious veiled woman, drug a dozen cases of beer across the floor and smashed them one by one.

After demanding her to leave the saloon, Marshal Benham backed away as she waved her hatchet before his face. After pushing her and touching her shoulder, Marshal Benham saw nothing but pure anger in Mrs. Nation. She then lunged her hatchet at him. After all was said and done, she left with Mrs. Hoffman. After supper, she returned to downtown Enterprise, but this time had a run in with the Mrs. John Schilling, whose husband owned the other saloon in Enterprise. The two began to brawl. Mrs. Nation received cuts to her face and a deep gash over her eye. 

The next morning, she was back at it again. Not wanting to give in, she not only had plans on smashing the saloons, but also the saloon owners. The crowd gathered around as rotten eggs began flying towards Mrs. Nation's dress. Mrs. Nation's followers then proceeded to attack Mrs. Schilling and her companions, who fled down the street as fast and quickly as they could, in every direction possible. Within a few days, Mrs. Nation left for Topeka.

If you happen to drive down main street in Enterprise, make sure you stop and look at a plaque that is situated above the door of one of the bars that Carry Nation smashed. 

Information from this story courtesy of Reed Hoffman and "Carry Nation" by Herbert Asbury.

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