Schaffer Online Library of Drug Policy

Sign the Resolution
Contents | Feedback | Search
DRCNet Home
| Join DRCNet
DRCNet Library | Schaffer Library

Historical References

General Histories | Ancient History | 1800-1850 | 1860 | 1870 | 1880 | 1890
1900 | 1910 | 1920 | 1930 | 1940 | 1950 | 1960 | 1970 | 1980 | 1990
Use and Need of the Life of Carrie Nation

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



I soon saw that I was not popular with the church at Medicine Lodge. I testified to having received the "baptism of the Holy Ghost," and the minister, Mr. Nicholson, took occasion to say that I was not sound in the faith. This church at this time had a board of deacons and elders, who I knew to be unworthy, some of them addicted to intoxicating drinks and other flagrant sins. There was one man whose sincerity I never questioned, Mr. Smith, who had a good report from those in and out of the church.

Mr. Nicholson, the preacher, used to go to a drugstore kept by a noted jointist and infidel. He would sit with him in front of his drugstore. I would rebuke him for "sitting in the seat of the scornful and in the way of sinners."

Whenever I went visiting, I went where I felt I could do some good for Jesus, and at Thanksgiving and Christmas I invited the poor, crippled and blind, to a feast at my house as Jesus said to never invite those who were able to make a feast.

There was a Mrs. Tucker, who was quite young and married to an old man. She worked hard, washing, to care for her five children. I would take her to church and it was not long before she joined. There was rejoicing in Heaven, but none in the church at Medicine Lodge. For two years she attended church, and not an officer or member ever called to see her. I would visit her, and often take her clothes for her children, also read the Bible, and prayed with her. I did not wish her to notice the lack of all Christian fellowship, but she saw the cool way in which she was treated and she stopped going to church. A false report of treachery was told to this minister by her unfeeling, jealous husband, and without going to see this poor woman, it was decided to take her name from the church book,

One Lord's Day morning, before Mr. Nicholson commenced his sermon, he said: "It is the painful duty of the church to withdraw fellowship from Sister Tucker, "who had been living in open adultery." I was sitting in front, and I rose to my feet.

Mr. Nicholson said: "You sit down, the elders will attend to this."

I said: "No, the elders will not, but I will. What you have said is not true about this woman. She has been a member of the church for two years, and neither you nor the elders or any member of this church but myself have been in her home. I do for that woman what I would want some one to do for me, under the same circumstances. These elders never reclaim the erring or pray with the dying, but this poor little lamb has come in for shelter, and they are pulling the fleece off of her."

All this time Mr. Nicholson was telling me in angry tones to "sit down". He then called on the elders to take me out, came down from the pulpit, took me by the arm intending to put me out himself, but he could not move me. I turned to the audience, told them what the preacher said could not be proven. The Normal was in session and there were many strangers present. I sat down as calmly as if nothing had happened out of the usual, and waited until the close.

Mr. Nicholson came to me after service and said: "We will settle your case."

I said: "Do your worst and do your best."

That afternoon the elders met in the church, and withdrew from me because I was a "stumbling block," and a "disturber of the peace." This was a grief to me, for my beloved father, mother, brothers and sisters belonged to this society of Christians, and I had, since I was a child ten years of age. I wept much over this, but I went to church as usual, not so much to the Christian church, but the Baptist, where they were very kind to me.

Bro. Wesley Cain had charge of that church and this man and his wife were a tower of strength to me. What this man and wife did for the people of Medicine Lodge will receive approbation on "That Day," at the resurrection of the just.

Mrs. Cain was local president of the W. C. T. U. and she was at her post; was self-sacrificing, and had such a sympathizing heart. The poor never applied to Bro. Cain and his noble wife in vain. I have much to thank them for.

I was Jail Evangelist at this time for the W. C. T. U. and I learned that almost everyone who was in jail was directly or indirectly there from the influence of intoxicating drinks. I began to ask why should we have the result of the saloon, when Kansas was a prohibition state, and the constitution made it a crime to manufacture, barter, sell or give away intoxicating drinks? When I went to Medicine Lodge there were seven dives where drinks were sold. I will give some reasons why they were removed. I began to harass these dive-keepers, although they were not as much to blame as the city officials who allowed them to run. Mart Strong was a noted joint-keeper. He and his son, Frank, were both bad drinking characters, and would sell it every chance they got. Mart had a dive and I was in several times to talk to him, and he would try to flatter me and turn things into a joke. When he saw I did not listen to such talk, treated me very rude. One Saturday I saw quite a number of men into his place, and I went in also. Saloons in Kansas generally have a front room to enter as a precaution, then a back room where the bar is. I didn't get farther than the front, for Mart came hastily, taking me by the shoulders and said: "Get out of here, you crazy woman." I was singing this song:

Who hath sorrow? Who hath Woe? They who dare not answer no; They whose feet to sin incline, While they tarry at the wine.


They who tarry at the wine cup They who tarry at the wine cup. They who tarry at the wine cup.

Who hath babblings, who hath strife? He who leads a drunkard's life; He whose loved ones weep and pine, While he tarries at the wine.

Who hath wounds without a cause? He who breaks God's holy laws; He who scorns the Lord divine, While he tarries at the wine.

Who hath redness at the eyes? Who brings poverty and sighs? Unto homes almost divine, While he tarries at the wine?

Touch not, taste not, handle not: Drink will make the dark, dark blot, Like an adder it will sting, And at last to ruin bring, They who tarry at the drink."

I continued to sing this, with tears running down my face. When I finished the song there was a great crowd; some of the men had tears in their eyes as well. James Gano, the constable, was standing near the door and said: "I wish I could take you off the streets." I said: "Yes, you want to take me, a woman, whose heart is breaking to see the ruin of these men, the desolate homes and broken laws, and you a constable, oath-bound to close his man's unlawful business."

The treatment I got at the hands of this Mart Strong was told to the mayor and councilmen, and there was great indignation. The councilmen went to Mart's place that night. The door was locked and a number of gamblers were in there. The mayor forced the door open and told Mart Strong never to open business in the town again. He left next day; and this closed up one of the worst places in the town. Then there was Henry Durst, another jointist of long standing who was a German and had accumulated quite a lot of property by this dishonest business. He was a prominent Catholic. A Mrs. Elliott, a good Christian woman, came to my home crying bitterly and between sobs told me, that for six weeks her husband had been drinking at Durst's bar, until he was crazy. She had been washing to feed her three children and for some days had nothing in the house but cornbread and molasses. She said that her husband had come in, wild with drink and run his family out and kicked over the table and she said: "I came to you to ask you what to do."

I did not speak a word, for I was too full of conflicting feelings; but I put on my bonnet and Sister Elliott asked me what I was going to do. I told her that I did not know, but for her to come with me. We walked down to Henry Durst's place, a distance of half a mile. I fell down on my knees before the screen and began to call on God. There were five men in there drinking. I was indifferent to those passing the street. It was a strange sight to see women on their knees on the most prominent part of the street. I told God about this man selling liquor to this woman's husband, and told Him she had been washing to get bread, and asked God to close up this den and drive this man out. Mrs. Elliott also prayed. We then told this man that God would hear and that hell was his portion if he did not change. In a short time he closed his bar, left his family there, and went to another state. His property was sold gradually and he never returned, except to move his family away, and I heard afterwards he was reduced to poverty.

Another jointist was named Hank O'Bryan. In passing his place one night from prayer-meeting, I smelled the horrid drink and went in. A man by the name of Grogan was there, half drunk, and I said: "You have a dive here." Mr. Grogan replied: "No, Mother Nation, you are wrong, and I can prove it."

"Let me see what you have in the back room," I asked. "All right, Mother," he said, and took me through several windings, until I came to a very small room with a table covered with beer bottles, that had been recently emptied, and in one corner sat a man, Mr. Smith, a man from Sharon, who the W. C. T. U. had been talking of handling for selling liquor in that town. Mr. Grogan introduced me to him, and he, Mr. Smith, looked terrified and astonished. I took up one of the bottles and asked what it had contained. His reply: "Hop Tea." I asked: "What name is that on the label?" It was "Anheuser-Busch," but I could get neither of them to pronounce it. I turned up one of the bottles and put it to my lips and told them that it was beer, and that I could take an oath that it was. Grogan threw up his hands saying: "Now, Mother Nation, if you get me into trouble I will do something desperate." I had visited this man Grogan in jail about a year before this, where he was put for getting drunk and fighting. I said: "I do not wish to get either of you in trouble, but want to get you out." I had my Bible with me and I opened it to several passages where drink was condemned, and told them where it would lead. I told them I would not speak of this to anyone. When I said I would not "tell on them" the look of gladness on their faces was pitiful to see.

I said, I am going to pray God to have mercy on you. Kneel down, like two obedient little children--they knelt--some may smile at this, but I was deeply affected and felt a compassion and tenderness toward these poor men, whom the devil was leading captive at his will. That prayer I offered, was heard.

In one week from that time this man Grogan came to my house; one Sunday morning, and fell down at my feet crying and wringing his hands, saying: "Oh! Mrs. Nation I am going to hell, but it is not your fault and I came to ask you to pray for me." He was in great agony of soul. He had been drinking until he was almost crazy. He left in about half an hour, saying he "was going to hell," but I told him, no; to have faith in God and He would save him.

This was the last I saw of him, but I heard afterwards that he had a small store in Wichita and was living in the rear of it with his family. The person that told me of him, said that he asked Mr. Grogan if he sold liquor. His answer was: "No, I got enough of that in Medicine Lodge." This Mr. Smith became a wreck for a time, and lost his business in Sharon. After I came out of jail in Wichita the third time, I met a man on the street and he made himself known as the Smith of Sharon. He looked quite well and said he had quit drinking entirely and was a real estate dealer in Wichita.

I soon heard of its being told around in Medicine Lodge that I drank beer in a dive. So I went to Hank O'Bryan's restaurant and said: "Some of these jointists are telling that I drank in a dive. Now if it comes to the ears of the public, I will have to go on the witness stand and tell where I drank beer." Hank turned pale, looked comical and I never heard any more of that.

There was a saloon keeper in Kiowa, named "Billy" Morris and living with him as his wife was a girl whose name was Cora Bennett. This poor girl had been living an irregular life, but was true to this man, who had promised her time after time to marry her, but was only deceiving her. She entered his bar room one day and told him he must fulfill his promise to her now, or she would kill him. He tried to laugh at her. She fired a shot and killed him on the spot; then the poor girl fell on his dead body screaming in a distracted manner. She was arrested and brought to jail at Medicine Lodge; and was there six months. Being Jail Evangelist I went to see her, sometimes twice a week. When I first saw her she was reticent, and did not seem glad to see me. She was so nice, that I fell in love with her and I asked the ladies of the W. C. T. U. to visit her, but they thought her a hopeless case. She bought a Bible and we would read and pray together and talked about the need of Christ in our lives. She was a woman of great sympathy. I asked her once: "Did you ever love anyone." She wept bitterly and said: "Yes, the man I killed."

Toward the last she seemed perfectly delighted when I came to her cell. She, consented to go to a home where she would have friends who would keep her, to make a change in her life. The morning she left I went to the jail and rode with her in the hack to the depot and then to a town about twenty miles east of Medicine Lodge, called Attica. On the train from Medicine Lodge to Attica, the deputy sheriff had some man to give this girl a letter from him, telling her to meet him at Wellington. The girl's father lived at Attica, and an older sister of her's met us. I could see the sister was not a good woman, and she took Cora to a room and exchanged the modest hat and dress for a showy hat and elaborate silk dress; and when I saw her it almost broke my heart. I said to her: Oh, Cora, all my work to save you is in vain." I had rather have seen her drop dead, and I grieved all the way home. From Attica she went to Wellington, instead of Olathe, Kansas, where she was to enter this home. James Dobson was sheriff of Barber County and his brother kept a saloon in Kiowa, the first saloon I ever smashed. ,

I heard no good news of Cora for some years; she led a bad life. Five years later, through a W. C. T. U. lecturer, I heard that she was married and living in Colorado; and she was an efficient worker as a W. C. T. U. woman; among fallen women. She told of her past life and of a Mrs. Nation visiting her. This woman said it was so incredible to believe that Cora could have been so bad, and had taken a human life, that she was anxious to see the place in Kiowa and to see Cora's prison cell and myself. I was then in Oklahoma, and I certainly rejoiced over this news from her I had learned to love. I saw in this wayward girl certain qualities that would be a power for good, if once God could have His way with her life.

There are diamonds in the slush and filth of this world. Happy is he who picks them up and helps to wash the dirt away, that they may shine for God. I am very much drawn to my fallen sisters. Oh! the cruelty and oppression they meet with! If the first stone was cast by those who were guiltless, those who were to be stoned would rarely get a blow.


There was a druggist, O. L. Day, in Medicine Lodge who was unlawfully selling intoxicating liquor. He himself was drinking; also his clerk. I got a knowledge of a deposit of this contraband goods. I put a little boy on my buggy horse and sent a letter to our dear Sister Cain, who was president of our local union. She called several of the women together at our W. C. T. V. room and made known to them what I knew of O. L. Day receiving these intoxicants. There was a great deal of discussion, but at last it was decided that we should investigate. At that time I was regarded as a fanatic, and many of these were afraid for me to plan for them, so I kept very quiet. It was finally agreed that Mrs. A. L. Noble and Mrs. Runyan should go first and see how matters were. Sister Runyan finally said before we got there: "Let Mrs. Nation go in my place." I said: "Thank God!" Oh, I was so glad, for I felt that I could handle this case.


O. L. Day was a real gentleman by nature. He was the man with one fault, and that was alcoholism. Mrs. Noble said: "You do the talking." While we were in the W. C. T. U. room discussing, Sister Runyan said: "I will not have anything to do with this if Mrs. Nation does." I kept still, praying for the raid to go through, even if I was not in it; and when it came to the point, I had just what I wanted. I felt entirely equal to the occasion. Sister Runyan did not understand me then, for we are the best of friends and she has been true to me in my efforts to defend the homes of Kansas. I told Mr. Day, we, as a W. C. T. U. thought he had not been dealing fairly, and I looked at his little back room suspiciously, as much as to say: "I would like to see what you have in there." He said: "Ladies would you like to go in the room?" I said: "Yes." I knew I could discover the secret. I saw behind the prescription case a ten gallon keg. I said to myself: "That is a find." About this time the rest of the women, accompanied by Sister Cain, came in the front door. Mr. Day was as white as death all the time. As soon as he went to the front I smelled the keg bung. I turned it on one side and rolled it to the front saying; "Women, this is the whiskey!" Mr. Day's clerk caught the end of the keg to turn it out of my hands and on the other side of it was Jim Gano, the marshal, who I think hauled all the divekeepers' goods to them. He was a Republican and in with the whiskey ring and a "rummy" himself. I then placed a foot on each side of the keg and held it firm with both feet and hands. Jim Gano sprang in front of me and with his chest against my head, I thought certainly he would break my neck. I called to the women to help me. Mrs. Noble caught him by one side of the collar and some one the other side and held him back against the counter until I could roll the keg out into the street. All this time Sister Cain, like a general, was saying: "Don't any one touch these women. They are right. They are christian women, trying to save the boys of our state." I called for a hatchet from the hardware store of Mr. Case. He was very angry and said: "No!" He also, was drinking too much. I called to Mrs. Noble to get a sledge hammer from the blacksmith shop across the street. She did and handed it to me. I struck with all my might. The whiskey flew high in the air. The ladies came near to pour it out, but I said: "Save some." So Sister Runyan got a bottle and filled it. Then we poured it out and set it afire. I fell on my knees in the middle of the street and thanked God for this victory. Dr. Gould, a man "fit for treason, stratagem and spoils," was the one to help Day dispose of these drinks, as many doctors do. This doctor gave out that this was "California Brandy", costing seventy-five dollars, that he had advised Day to get it for medical purposes.

Mr. Day was at this time getting a permit to sell it for medical purposes. He appeared in court to prove he was a graduated pharmacist, never drank, and never had a clerk that did. The W. C. T. U. were there in a body. We contested his right to have the permit. Poor man. I pitied him. He was very much under the influence of intoxicants. When asked; "What that was in the keg the ladies rolled out of his drug store on the 16th of February?" he said: "It was California brandy." When asked: "If he knew the taste of whiskey and brandy," he said: "Yes." We handed him a bottle of this that he said was brandy. He pronounced it "a poor quality of sour mash whiskey." Sister Runyan was then put on the stand and said: "It came from the keg that was smashed."

This man was so humbled that he sold out in a month and left Medicine Lodge. There are parties in that town who are more responsible than O. L. Day. They did every thing in their power to have him do that which was his ruin. In retaliation for this the republican rum element one night made an attack on Sister Cain's and my house, broke windows and threw rocks, and broke my buggy. They also sent a negro to my house, named Haskel, a noted bootlegger. He asked for an interview. He had quite a tale to tell me about hearing some men say that if the women appeared against Day that my house would go. I am so well acquainted with the colored race I could read him from the first and knew that these "Rummies" had put this negro up to intimidate me. I listened as if I believed. Then I said: "Haskel you ought to know by this time that such men as these will not prevent me from doing my duty, besides should my home be burned, it would be a lecture in favor of my cause that would be worth more to me than the home. Now Haskel you get in the company of these men and you tell them what I have told you." This negro pretended to me that he came to me as a friend. When I told him what I did, his expression was amusing to see.