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Use and Need of the Life of Carrie Nation

The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation.



In 1854, we moved to Woodford County, Kentucky, and bought a farm from Mr. Hibler, on the pike, between Midway and Versailles. Mr. Warren Viley was our nearest neighbor. My father was one of the trustees in building the Orphans' Home at Midway. Here in Midway I attended Sunday school and I had a very faithful teacher who taught me the Word of God. I have forgotten her name but I can see her sweet face now, as she planted seed in my heart that are still bringing forth fruit.

A minister came to our house one day and gave me a book to read, which made a very deep impression on me. As well as I can remember it was called: "The Children of the Heavenly King." This story represented three brothers, one, the youngest, was named Ezra, the other Ulrich, the third I forget. These three were intrusted with watching certain passes in the mountains during the warfare between a great, good king, and a bad one, and in proportion as these boys were faithful, the good king was victorious in battle, but when they neglected their duty, he would suffer loss. The character of little Ezra was a sweet, unselfish one. He tried so hard to help, and have his brothers do right. He would run from his post to wake them up, and tried to make up for their neglect; would do without rest and food for himself, and plead with them to do their duty. At last, when the king came, little Ezra was richly rewarded; Ulrich barely passed, and the unfaithful one was taken out amidst weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, and the door was shut. The minister did not know what good he had done.

"Only a thought, but the work it wrought, Could never by tongue or pen be taught; For it ran thro' a life, like a thread of gold, And the life bore fruit, an hundred fold. Only a word, but it was spoken in love, With a whispered prayer to the Lord above; And the angels in heaven rejoiced once more For a new-born soul entered in, at the door."

I resolved to be like little Ezra as near as I could. When I was a child I fought against my selfish nature. I would often give away my doll clothes and other things that I wanted to keep myself. Some of the strongest characteristics of my life were awakened in my childhood. I would often blush with shame, when committing sins, and I had a great fear of the judgement day; it would terrify me when hearing of Jesus coming to the earth. I would often ask myself: "Where can I hide?" If the public knew of the smashing God gave me the strength to do in my heart, they would not wonder at my courage in smashing the murder- shops of our land. "He that ruleth his own spirit, is greater than he that taketh a city."

In 1855, we moved to Missouri, just a year before the trouble broke out between Kansas and Missouri. Missouri determined to make Kansas a slave state; but Kansas said she would not have a slave upon her soil. Squads of men in Missouri would often go into Kansas and commit depredations. At one time they burned Lawrence, Kansas, and killed many people. This trouble continued to grow worse until it brought on the great Civil War.

When we moved from Kentucky to Missouri, I took a severe cold on the boat, which made me an invalid for years. I was not a truthful child, neither was I honest. My mother was very strict with me in many ways and I would often tell her lies to avoid restraint or punishment. If there was anything I wanted about the house, especially something to eat, I would steal it, if I could. The colored servants would often ask me to steal things for them. My nurse Betsy, would say: "Carry get me a cup of sugar, butter, thread or needles," and many other things. This would make me sly and dishonest. I used to go and see my aunts and stay for months. I would open their boxes and bureau drawers and steal ribbons and laces and make doll clothes out of them. I would steal perfumery and would run out of the room to prevent them from smelling it. I am telling this for a purpose. Many little children may be doing what I did, not thinking of what a serious thing it is, and I write this to show them how I was cured of dishonesty: I got a little book at Sunday school and it told the way people became thieves, by beginning to take little things naming them, and some of these were the very things I had been taking. I was greatly shocked to see myself a thief; it had never occurred to me that I was as bad as that. I thought one had to steal something of great value to be a thief. My repentance was sincere, and I was made honest by this blessed book, so much so that even after I became grown, if any article was left in my house I would give it away, unless I could find the owner. I was perfectly delighted when I was entirely free. I asked for everything I wanted, even a pin. After that, I could show my doll clothes, and it was not necessary for me to be sly or tell stories any more. It was about this time I was converted. There was a protracted meeting at a place called Hickman's Mill, Jackson County, Missouri. The minister was gray haired and belonged to the Christian or Disciples church, the one my father belonged to. I was at this time ten years old and went with my father to church on Lord's Day morning. At the close of the sermon, and during the invitation, my father stepped to the pulpit and spoke to the minister and he looked over in my direction. At this I began to weep bitterly, seemed to be taken up, and sat down on the front bench. I could not have told any one what I wept for, except it was a longing to be better. I had often thought before this that I was in danger of going to the "Bad place," especially I would be afraid to think of the time that I should see Jesus come. I wanted to hide from Him. My father had a cousin living at Hickman's Mill, Ben Robertson. His wife, cousin Jennie, came up to me at the close of the service, and said: "Carry, I believe you know what you are doing." But I did not. Oh, how I wanted some one to explain to me. The next day I was taken to a running stream about two miles away, and, although it was quite cold and some ice in the water, I felt no fear. It seemed like a dream. I know God will bless the ordinance of baptism, for the little Carry that walked into the water was different from the one who walked out. I said no word. I felt that I could not speak, for fear of disturbing the peace that is past understanding. Kind hands wrapped me up and I felt no chill. I felt the responsibility of my new relation and tried hard to do right.

A few days after this I was at my aunt Kate Doneghy's. Uncle James, or "Jim," we called him, her husband, was not a Christian. He shocked me one day by saying: "So those Campbellites took you to the creek, and soused you, did they 'Cal'?" (A nick name.) What a blow! My aunt seemed also shocked to have him speak thus to me. I left the room and avoided meeting him again. How he crushed me! It had the effect to make me feel like a criminal.

The Protestant Church here makes a fatal error which the Catholics avoid. The ministers of the latter have all young converts come so often to them for instruction. A child may be born, but not being nursed and fed, it will die. God has command them to be fed in the sincere milk of the word. My greatest hindrance has been from the lack of proper Christian teaching. I love the memory of my father, he used to have me read the bible to him, and while I did not enjoy it then, it is a blessed memory. The family altar is essential to the welfare of every home, no other form of discipline is equal to it. The liberty, chivalry, and life of a nation live or die in proportion as the Altar fires live or die.

"And these words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house and when thou walkest by the way and when thou liest down and when thou risest up."

When I was fifteen, the war broke out between the north and the south. My father saw that Missouri would be the battle ground and he, with many others, took their families and negroes and went south, taking what they could in wagons, for there were no railroads then in that section. There was quite a train with the droves of cattle, mules and horses. One wagon had six yoke of oxen to it; had to get into it by a ladder, the kind that was used to freight across the plains. The family went in the family carriage that my father brought from Kentucky. I remember the time when this carriage was purchased, with the two dapple gray horses, and silver mounted harness, and when my mother would drive out she had a driver in broadcloth, with a high silk hat, and a boy rode on a seat behind, to open the gates. This was one of the ways of traveling in Kentucky in those days. My mother was an aristocrat in her ideas, but my father was not. He liked no display. He was wise enough to see the sin and folly of it.


After being on the road six weeks, we stopped in Grayson County, Texas, and bought a farm. As we started from Missouri one of the colored women took sick with typhoid fever. This spread so that ten of the family, white, and black, were down at one time. As soon as we could travel, my father left the colored people south, and took his family back to Missouri. That winter south was a great blessing to me, for I recovered from a disease that had made me an invalid for five years-- consumption of the bowels. Poor health had keep me out of school a great deal. My father at one time sent me to Mrs. Tillery's boarding school in Independence, Mo., but I was not in the recitation room more than half of the time.

After I recovered my health in Texas, it was my delight to ride on horseback with a girl friend. The southern boys were preparing to go to war. Many a sewing did we attend, where the mothers had spun and woven the gray cloth that they were now working up so sorrowfully for their sons to be buried in, far away from home. They thought their cause was right. There were many good masters. And again there were bad ones. Whiskey is always a cruel tyrant and is a worse evil than chattel slavery. We were often stopped on our trip by southern troops, in the Territory and Texas, and then again by northerners. We passed over the Pea Ridge battle ground shortly after the battle. Oh! the horrors of war. We often stopped at houses where the wounded were. We let them have our pillows and every bit of bedding we could spare. We went to our home in Cass County, Missouri.

Shortly after this we, with all families living in that country, were commanded by an order from Jim Lane, to move into an army post. This reached several counties in Missouri. It was done to depopulate the country, so that the "Bushwhackers" would be forced to leave, because of not being able to get food from the citizens. This caused much suffering. But such is war. We moved to Kansas City. I was in Independence, Mo., during the battle, when Price came through. I went with a good woman to the hospital to help with the wounded. My duty was to comb the heads of the wounded. I had a pan of scalding water near and would use the comb and shake off the animated nature into the hot water. The southern and northern wounded were in the same rooms. In health they were enemies, but I only saw kindly feeling and sympathy.

Mothers ought to give their daughters the experience of sitting with the sick; of preparing food for them; of binding up wounds. It is a pitiful sight to see a helpless woman in the sick room, ignorant through lack of experience and education, of ways to be useful at the time and place where these characteristics of woman adorn her the most of all others.

After we returned from Texas, being the oldest child and the servants all gone, my mother sick, and the younger children going to school, I had the house work, cooking and most of the washing to do. It was a new experience for me, and it was twice as hard as it ought to have been. I exposed my health; would slop up myself when I washed, and almost ruined my health, because I had not been properly educated. Herein was the curse of slavery. My father saw this, and I don't believe he had a regret when the slaves were free. Mother, it matters not what else you teach your daughters, if they have not an experience in doing the work themselves about a home, they are sadly deficient. It is not the soft, palefaced, painted, fashionable lady we want, for the world would be better without her; but the woman capable of knowing how, and willing to take a place in the home affairs of life. It is an ambition of mine to establish a Preparatory College in Topeka, Kansas, where girls may be taught, as women should be, that they in turn may teach others, how to wash, cook, scrub, dress and talk, to counteract the idea that woman is a toy, pretty doll, with no will power of her own, only a parrot, a parasite of a man. To be womanly, means strength of character, virtue and a power for good. Let your women be teachers of good things, says the Holy Spirit.

The last school I attended was at Liberty, Missouri, taught by Mr. and Mrs. Love. Only went there a year, but it was of untold value to me. I was so eager to get an education. On account of ill health and the war, I knew but little. I wanted a thorough education. I had read a good many books, and would write sketches; kept a diary part of the time.

I will here relate an incident that will give my readers a little insight into my impulses. At Liberty School we had a class in Smellie's Natural Philosophy." There was an argument among the girls. Some said animals had reasoning faculties. Others said not. Miss Jennie Johnson, our teacher, said: "Have that for a question to debate on in your society." So it was ordered. I was given the affirmative. The Friday came. I was taken by surprise and was in confusion, when I saw the room crowded. The two other societies of the Seminary, "The Mary Lyons" and "Rising Star," also all the teachers, were present. Our Society was the "Eunomian". I had made no preparations. When I was called I know I looked ridiculously blank. The president tried to keep her face straight. I got no farther than, "Miss President". All burst out in uncontrollable laughter. I went to my seat put my face in my arms and turned my back to the audience. I wept with tears of humiliation. I felt disgraced. I thought of what a shame this would be to my parents. How ever after this I must be considered a "Silly" by my schoolmates. These things nerved me. I dried my tears, turned around in my seat, looked up, and the moral force it required to do this was almost equal to that which smashed a saloon. I arose and said: "Miss President, I am ready to state my case." I began in this style: "I know animals have the power to reason for my brothers cured a dog from sucking eggs by having him take a hot one in his mouth, and it was the last egg we ever knew him to pick up. Why? Because he remembered the hot one and reasoned that he might get burned. Why is it that a horse will like one person more than another? Because he is capable of reasoning and knows who is the best to him." I went on in this homely style and spoke with a vehemence which said: "I will make my point," which I did amidst the cheers of the school. I was eighteen at this time and you would say: "You must have been rather green." So I was in some things.

I believe I have always failed in everything I undertook to do the first time, but I learned only by experience, paid dearly for it, and valued it afterwards. My failures have been my best teachers. I see no one more awkward than I once was, but I had determined to conquer. My defects were the great incentives to perseverance, when I felt I was right.

I shall not in this book speak much of my love affairs, but they were, nevertheless, an important part of my life. I was a great lover. I used to think a person never could love but once in this life, but I often now say, I would not want a heart that could hold but one love. It was not the beauty of face or form that was the most attractive to me in young gentlemen, or ladies, but that of the mind. Seeing this the case with myself, I tried to acquire knowledge to make my company agreeable. I see young ladies, and gentlemen, who entertain each other with their silly jokes and gigglings that are disgusting. When I had company I always directed the conversation so that my friend would teach me something, or I would teach him. I would read the poets, and Scott's writings and history. Read Josephus, mythology and the Bible together, and never read a course that taught me as much. I would go to the country dances and sometimes to balls in the City. The church did not object to this: I would teach Sunday school at the same time. No one taught me that this was wrong. One thing was a tower of defense to me. I always, when possible, read the Bible and would pray. After retiring would get up and kneel, feeling that to pray in bed only, was disrespectful to God. If the angels in heaven would prostrate themselves before Him, I a poor sinner should. And right here, I believe in "advancing on your knees." Abraham prostrated himself, so did David and Solomon, Elijah, Daniel, Paul, and even our sinless Advocate. Why did the Holy Ghost state the position so often? For our example, of course. There are no space writers in the Scriptures. I often had doubts as to whether the Bible was the work of God or man. I kept these doubts to myself, for I thought infidelity a disgrace. I wanted to believe the Bible the word of God. I early saw that to close the Bible was to shut out all knowledge of the purpose of life. Without its revelations one does not know why we are born, why we live, or where we go after death. We can see the purpose of all nature, but not of this life of ours, and God had, by revelation, to make this known.

The Bible was a mystery to me. It often seemed to be a contradiction. I did not love to read it, but above all things, I did not want to be a hypocrite. I was determined to try to do my part. I would pray for the same thing over and over again, so as to be in earnest, and think of what I was asking. My mind was distracted by thoughts of the world. I said, if there is a God, he will not hear the prayer of those, so disrespectful as not to think of what they ask. I never seemed to get rid of this, unless at times, when I would have some sorrow of heart. "By the sadness of the countenance, the heart is made better."

I do not believe the Bible because I understand it; for there are few things of revelation that I do understand. Creation is a mystery, still we know everything had a beginning. I do not know why things grow out of the earth. Why they are green. Why grass makes wool on a sheep and hair on a cow, but I know these are facts. I cannot understand why or how the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from sin, neither do I understand that greatest of all mysteries, the new birth, but nothing more positively a fact in my experience.

God is not perceived by the five senses. The things that are seen are temporal, but those that are unseen are eternal. What a sin of presumption to question God in any of His providences. What God says and does is wisdom, righteousness and power.

The book of Psalms condemned me. I said, I never felt like David. I cannot rejoice. Still I felt that I ought to, but instead, a constant feeling of condemnation and conviction. This was torture to me. I would often have been willing to have died, if I thought it would have been an eternal sleep. My childhood and girlhood were not happy; had so many disappointments. I was called "hard headed" by my parents. I never was free to have what I wished; something would come between me and what I wanted. No one understood me so well as my darling aunt Hope Hill, my mother's sister. She seemed to read me and would talk to me of persons and things, answering the very cry of my heart. My mother would often let me stay with her for months. She had five sons, but no daughters and she was very fond of me. This lesson she taught me: A party of ladies came out from Independence to spend the day with her. Mrs. Woodson and a Mrs. Porter, wife of Dr. Porter, I remember the latter, one of the handsomest women I ever saw, beautiful feet, hands, hair, and a woman who knew it, and, it was a mater of the greatest pride with her, these charms. I was very much captivated by her splendid appearance and could not keep my eyes from her. Next day Mrs. John Staton, a country neighbor of my aunts, came in to make a visit, She was very plain, wore a calico dress, waist-apron, and she was knitting a sock. After she left aunt said to me: "Carry, you did not seem to like Mrs. Staton's society as you did Mrs. Porter's; but one sentence of Mrs. Staton's is worth all Mrs. Porter said. Mrs. Porter lives for this world, Mrs. Staton lives for God." This Lesson I did not learn then, but have since. Oh! for the old-fashioned women.


Just at the close of the war when we were on a farm in Cass County, Missouri, a colony of spiritualists were near us, Mrs. Hawkins, the medium was about 60 years old, very peculiar, and finely educated. My father had some farms he was selling for other people. He took Mrs. Hawkins and several of her company to look at a farm with a view of selling it. When she saw it from a hill some distance off she said: "That is the place I saw in Connecticut." She bought it for a town site. In writing to Washington to give it a name, the word "Peculiar" was selected, and so it has ever been called. Mrs. Hawkins took a great fancy to me. She would tell me of great things she had done, then say: "Could Jesus Christ have done more?" I had never heard of Spiritualism that I knew of, up to this time. This colony brought mechanics, merchants and musicians with them. I was in great confusion about this matter, not knowing what to think, for she did some superhuman things. Up stairs we had a large safe full of old books. I was looking over them one day, came to a little book called "Spiritualism Exposed". I immediately went to the orchard, sat under a tree, as my custom was, when I wished to read, for there I could be quiet. I read the little book through, before I stopped. This blessed lesson showed me to my entire satisfaction, that modern spiritualism is witchcraft. The writer took the instances in the Bible. God told Moses: "You must not suffer a witch to live;" see it at the court of Pharoah, and that they have "superhuman power." There are two kingdoms. One of darkness, and one of light. God rules in the latter; The Devil in the former. Both have powers above the power of man. The magicians at Pharoah's court were wizards; and the woman of Endor was a witch. The Bible speaks of dealing with "familiar spirits." Manasseh, Saul, and other Kings, were cursed for such. Gal. 5th has it as one of the "mortal sins." The Devil can do lying miracles to deceive. He will heal the body, or appear to do it, to damn the soul. I find this in "Christian Science." This is the mark of the "Beast" or carnal mind. Man is but a beast without the new birth, or spirit of God. Carnality always seeks to elevate itself. Grace is humble, and sees nothing good outside of God. The mark of the beast, is the number, or mark of a man; that is carnality or the Beast. Rev. 13:18.