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Historical References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 got out of Wichita jail about the last week in January, 1901, under a writ of habeas corpus. I got bail,--I forget who went my bail, but God bless them; and left on the evening train about seven o'clock.

While in jail I got a letter asking me to come to Enterprise, Dickinson County, and break up saloons there. I said the name ENTERPRISE, is good and I will go; so I left jail with the intention of going there. It was dark when I started for the train. Many of the Salvation Army were near me. The streets were almost impassable, and the whole city seemed to be on the streets marching down to the station, yelling and laughing.

Many said: "Are you not afraid?" Perfect love casteth out all fear I love the people, I do not fear them.

There walked by my side, a man keeping the crowd back. "Are you one of the Salvation Army?" I said to him.

He said: "No, I am only a tin horn gambler."

I asked him: "Why do you seem to be such a friend of mine."

He answered: "Because I intend that no one shall hurt you, for you are a good woman, and I will see you safe. They all know me, and they will not hurt you." He carried my valise and put me on the train.

There were several thousand at the depot and the crowding was dangerous. I wanted to see the crowd, so I raised the window, waved my hand and as the train pulled out, the eggs began to come; the window fell down and I did not get a spatter. God said: "I'll stand by you." explains this. In two minutes a rock the size of my fist came crashing in at the window; shivered the glass, and the rock fell down at my side; which was a miracle. Not once did I feel alarmed but smiled; while all the passengers were on their feet with fright.

I got to Enterprise at night. I stayed all night with Mrs. Hoffman and next morning, I went down to a dive kept by a man named Stillings. He had closed to go out to a baseball game. The door was locked, so I broke the front glass and climbed in. Several ladies were on the outside, and were friendly to my smashing. I broke the place up. There were twelve cases of beer and I destroyed them and piled them up in the center of the room on the floor. At the close, the marshal came in, took me out and would not let me break up the other dive near by. Neither did he arrest me.

I came down on the corner of the street that night, to tell the people why I did this, when Stillings passed, cursing and shaking his fist at me, saying: "My wife will settle you." Just then a furious woman came around the corner, rushed up to me and struck me a fearful blow in the eye, then ran to her husband, Stillings, and in a frantic manner said: "I have done what you asked me, now let us go home." I stopped speaking long enough to go into a meat shop and have a piece of fresh meat bound on my eye, which was already very dark and painful. Then I finished my address on the street, and went up to a meeting in the church, gave an address, and we organized a society to smash saloons, if they did not close. Next morning we went down the street in a body, Mrs. Hoffman and other women, and the other dive keeper talked to us and promised to go out of business. This Stillings came to me again cursing and threatening, saying: "His wife would fix me." Although this man was disturbing the peace, disorderly and dangerous, no one offered to arrest him. He held me, while four women ran from some place with whips and sticks. One beat me with her fist, another with a whip, one with a raw-hide, while one pulled my hair and kicked me into the gutter, nearly killing me.

I said: "Women, will you let me be murdered." For although there were men and women present, not one did a thing, until at last, an old lady, the mother of the saloon-keeper's wife, picked up a brick and said: "If anyone strikes that woman again I will hit them with this." Then all rushed to defend me.

I was almost breathless. My hair was down, much of it being pulled out. I went home with my friend, Mrs. Hoffman. These parties were arrested. The trial brought out the fact that this dive-keeper, Stillings, had hired these women. To the gambler's wife he was to give twenty- five dollars, to use the raw-hide. Two women were prostitutes, whom this Stillings had brought to town for this purpose. They were fined a small sum, and the whole of them given a few hours to leave town.

My body was bruised and sore. My limbs were striped with bruises; but I was only disabled two days.

While in Enterprise I got a telegram from Holt, signed by the "Temperance Committee," it read: "Come here and help us break up dives." This little town was only twelve miles from Enterprise. In going to the train that night there seemed to have been some one hiding on every corner throwing eggs. My dress was covered with them. I got to Holt at midnight. When I got off the train, I then knew it was a plot to injure me for no one was there to meet me, and I saw some suspicious men keeping in the dark. I got in a hack and went to a hotel. I asked for the women but all had retired. I went up to my room, which was very small. It had one window which was raised an inch with a lath under it, and I thought it strange at the time that the landlord should have let the window down, but I was very tired and dropped asleep almost as soon as I touched the bed. About two o'clock I was awakened with a smothered feeling, struggling for breath. I jumped for the window, which I threw up, for the room was full of the most poisonous odor, as of cigarettes, and other smells. I knew that there were persons at the door puffing the poison in. I sat at the window and listened and in about fifteen minutes I heard some one whistling and saw through the transom that a light was coming. A man stopped at my door and knocked.

"What do you want?"

"I want to speak to you," he replied.

"What is it?"

"I want to speak to you."

God showed me in a vision two men crouched on each side of the door ready to either catch or slug me, if the door was opened.

"I see you sluggers on each side of the door. You villain, you have tried to murder me by throwing poison in my room and now you are trying something else."

"There is a mob here after you."

"You are a liar," I answered.

"There is a committee wants to speak to you."

"You are telling lies in order to have me open my door."

He left and went down below, and for ten minutes there was a great tramping of feet and I could hear the landlord making out as if he was dispersing a crowd. I watched from my window and saw two men walking away. I certainly was thankful for a lock on my door. Next morning when ready to leave my room, I looked up and down the passages well; then I hurried and did not feel safe, until I got on the outside. I asked a little boy if there were any Christians in Holt.

"No, but there are some in the country."

I got my breakfast at a restaurant, and I called out on the streets that I would hold a meeting in front of this hotel where I had stopped. There was a crowd and I then told of the telegram and of how I was treated. I pointed to the landlord, who was the picture of a villain, and a coward. The two dive-keepers of Holt were at this meeting. They asked me if I intended to smash the saloons there.

"Of course, I didn't come to Holt to do anything else."

One man told me that he would shoot me if I came into his place.

"I am not afraid of your gun. Maybe it would be a good thing for a saloon-keeper to kill Carry Nation. It might be the means of causing the people to smash the dives."

The one that talked to me was white with fear and anger, but at last the color came back to his face, and soon he was in good humor; he told me he never expected to open that saloon again. In less than ten days from that time, the people of the county became so aroused, that the prosecuting attorney closed every saloon in the county, which were twelve in number.

From Holt I went to Topeka. I stopped with the United Brethren minister there, and spoke in his church. The saloons were all over Topeka. I went down town after dark, to see the condition of things. It was soon learned that I was on the streets, and a crowd gathered. I went to some dives and joints. I could not get in. One had his mistress stationed at the door with a broomstick. She gave me four blows before I could get away, poor creature. I met her niece after that, who told how the saloon-keeper cast her off and that she died a miserable death.

While I was there the State Temperance Union had a meeting in the First Presbyterian church. Capt. Cook, from Chetopa, got up in the meeting and said: "Here is ten dollars towards giving a medal to the bravest woman in Kansas, Carry Nation." One hundred and twenty dollars was raised.

I said: "I would prefer that the money be used to pay my lawyers, rather than be put into a medal as I did not wear gold in any way."

We held a good many meetings. I spoke in several churches and held meetings in Dr. Eva Harding's office, where we prepared to take measures to break up saloons in Topeka, where sworn officials were perjuring themselves from governor down to constable. About this time a certain woman pretended to be a friend of mine, but was a spy and a traitor. I believe she was hired by the jointists to find out our plans. She told me she knew where every saloon in the city was and would show them to me. It was understood by a few of us that we would make a raid one morning in February, 1901, and I called on this woman to show us where the places were. We wandered around from street to street, and I soon discovered that she was keeping me away from them. One young boy said: "I'll show you a place."

I came to one dive. I lifted my hatchet to smash the door and this woman grabbed at my hatchet and so did the man. He slammed the door and left his hat in my hand. I passed on down to the "Senate" saloon and went in. This was about daylight. The bartender ran towards me with a yell, wrenched my hatchet out of my hand and shot off his pistol toward the ceiling; he then ran out of the back door, and I got another hatchet from a lady with us. I ran behind the bar, smashed the mirror and all the bottles under it; picked up the cash register, threw it down; then broke the faucets of the refrigerator, opened the door and cut the rubber tubes that conducted the beer. Of course it began to fly all over the house. I threw over the slot machine, breaking it up and I got from it a sharp piece of iron with which I opened the bungs of the beer kegs, and opened the faucets of the barrels, and then the beer flew in every direction and I was completely saturated. A policeman came in and very good-naturedly arrested me. For this I was fined $100 and put in jail. Mr. Cook was sheriff and I was treated very nicely by him and Mrs. Cook. Mrs. Cook's mother was visiting them at this time, a woman thoroughly in sympathy with my work, and I believe that the influence of this good woman was the cause of my being treated so well, for after she left things were very different.

That republican conspiracy in Topeka determined to put me in the insane asylum. One of them, Judge Magaw, swore on the witness stand that he believed me insane. His examination brought out the fact that I compelled him to turn some obscene pictures to the wall once, when I called to see him in his office.

I had received ever so many letters from all over the country justifying smashing as being reasonable, right and legal. I also saw that the republican newspapers of Kansas and other states were determined to put me in a false light before the people. I conceived the idea of editing a paper. I tried to get the Journal to edit the paper, but it seemed that I could not get anyone to take hold of it. Some one suggested to me Nick Chiles, a negro, who had a printing outfit. I knew but little of this man. I sent for him to come and see me at my cell. All the money I had in the world was from the sale of ten cows which was $240. This negro, Chiles talked very fair and promised to print my paper in a creditable way. I gave him the $240. I wrote the editorials while in the jail, and also gave him bundles of letters which I had received and a great many poems that had been written on Carry Nation and smashing. This negro finally cheated me out of my money and papers also. I closed with him after three weeks, he put the papers out, collected for them and never paid me a cent. I believe he paid Mr. Nation some and when I would have made him account for his wrong dealings, I found that the contract between he and I, which was drawn up by Mr. Nation, made this negro my partner. This, of course, was done to prevent me from having any legal redress. My paper was called THE SMASHER'S MAIL. I called it this for it was largely composed of letters which I had received on the subject of smashing. I had no one to read the proofs and was at the mercy of this negro, who was not in sympathy with my cause, but to the reverse. I was often humiliated at the way my articles were tortured. I afterwards got The Kansas Farmer to publish the paper and I then bought a press of my own, but found that I could not conduct a paper and lecture, so after the 13th edition, I closed. The paper accomplished , this much, that the public could see by my editorials that I was not insane.


I was in a meeting of the W. C. T. U. in Wichita, of which Mrs. Summers was president. I wanted to have these women go with me and destroy the places there that were murdering their sons. Many present were in favor of it, but Mrs. Summers was bitterly opposed. Three went out in the hall with me, Mrs. Lucy Wilhoit, Miss Muntz and Mrs. Julia Evans. The husband of the latter was a great drunkard, otherwise a capable physician. Those three women said they would go with me. We went to Mrs. Evans' home and then, for the first time, I took a hatchet and Mrs. Evans a piece of iron. We marched down to the first place, kept by John Burns. We walked in and began to smash right and left. With my hatchet I smashed in the large plate glass windows and also the door. Sister Evans and I then attacked the show case, went behind the bar and I smashed everything in sight. The bartender came running up to me with his hands up, "Don't come near my hatchet, it might fall on you and I will not be responsible for the results."

After we were through for no one resisted us, Mr. Burns was asked. "Why did you not knock that woman down?" he replied, "God forbid that I should strike a woman." ("a man's a man for a' that.")

I did not see what the other two women were doing, but heard Sister Wilhoit talking to the crowd and telling why we had done this.

We were put in one cell, the one I occupied before and were given a cot apiece. This was one of the glorious heavenly and refreshing times. We sang hymns, repeated scripture, would often laugh and cry by turns for joy to think we were worthy to suffer for His sake. "The table was prepared before us in the presence of our enemies, our cup runneth over." This happy condition was not what our persecutors wished, and Mrs. Simmons and her husband, whom we called "Jezebel" and "Ahab," were determined to separate us. Mrs. Simmons was telling that I used obscene language to her husband.


These two were very much interested in having me adjudged insane, for Mr. Simmons had in several ways laid himself liable to criminal prosecution, especially in the matter of the quarantine. Mrs. Simmons came to our cell door, and in the presence of Sister Wilhoit, to whom she had told that I used "obscene language," I asked her if she said this? She had to acknowledge that she did. I told her she spoke a "lie," for I had never done such a thing. She sent her husband and son up to the cell and they dragged me into the rotary and put me in one of those little triangular cells, which was indeed a place of filth. The faucet leaked, and kept a continual spatter, which made the foot of my cot damp. I stayed there five days and while it was not as bad as Jeremiah's dungeon, it was similar. The dampness and poison of this cell added to the already deep cold on my lungs. Dear Bro. Schollenberger! Who has not heard of this great hearted man of Wichita? He brought us little treats and in many ways relieved us of our afflictions and bonds. I was not allowed to be with my lovely sisters again in prison they would write notes and send them by a "trusty," for they were very uneasy about me, fearing foul play.

As soon as the sisters could get bonds, they got out, but I was not allowed to give bond. I was not a meek prisoner, did not act like a criminal. This vexed my prosecutors and they tried to humble me, but I felt that I was right and that God would stand by me and I wanted Him to look down and always find me brave and true and in nothing to be terrified by my adversaries.

I had some money sent me while in jail and this I divided, often to the last, with my fellow prisoners. To one I gave four dollars, for his poor wife was soon to be confined. To the "trusty" John, I gave three dollars for his destitute wife, and often bought little treats, such as fruits and butter. The meals were meat and beans one day, then potatoes and meat all cooked tip into a mush. I became very much attached to my fellow prisoners and I found some with noble sentiments. What do people do who have no hope of heaven, I often ask. What a joy to have a place in view where there is no sickness, no death, no jails, no suffering of any kind.


I had become so disgusted with jail food that my stomach refused it. As soon as I was put in jail I told Mr. Cook to send the milkman to my cell. He came and was very kind. He agreed to bring me some bread and milk, ten cents worth a day. This I lived on for the eighteen days. In the cell with me was a woman named Mrs. Mahanna, who was put in for selling beer. She did not happen to have a government license. Poor creature! She bad been the mother of fifteen children; had a broken hip caused by a kick of a drunken husband. She was very ignorant but kind-hearted. The heat was intense and we were next to the roof. Sometimes I would feel like I was suffocated. The windows slanted so that but little draught came in. One pane of glass was partly out and we would sit by that to get a breath of air. While in this jail I had many offers from different theatrical, circus, and museum managers, who tried to tempt me with all kinds of prices; one as high as $800 a week, and a palace car and a maid. I never for one moment thought of taking any of them until two managers came from New York City. The sheriff, Mr. Cook, brought their cards up. I said: "Tell them to wait until morning." I prayed over the matter nearly all night and before day all seemed settled. (This was a test to try my faith.) The cloud was lifted and I told Mr. Cook to tell the men that a "million a minute would not catch me." My dear friends especially Mrs. Goodwin, Dr. Eva Harding and others used their influence to have Stanley, the governor pardon me, this he refused to do, the joint-keepers were those he favored more than me.

I had never thought of going before the public as a lecturer. I knew those people only wanted me as they would a white elephant. I did not at this time see the stage as a missionary field.

At this time I was entirely out of means, was in debt and the duns I got while in jail were a terrible trouble to me. The ten cents I got for my bread and milk came in almost daily for copies of my papers. I paid my milkman sometimes in stamps.

I never wanted to get out of jail so badly in my life, as I did at this time, when the offers to make engagements were so many. Two days after the New York managers were there, I got a letter from James E. Furlong, a Lyceum Manager of Rochester, N. Y., who had managed Patti and many of the great singers. He told me if I would give him "some dates", he would assist me in getting out of jail. I hardly knew what he meant by "dates". Mrs. Goodwin of Topeka called to see me, I showed the letter to her and asked what this man meant by "dates?" She said: "He may want you to lecture or you could tell of your experience."

"I wonder if the people would like to hear me, I can tell my experience," I said. I asked her to tell Mr. Duminel, my lawyer, to come to my cell. I told him of it, and he said he would call the commissioners together and would have them let me out by paying my fines by monthly installments. This he did. So Mr. Furlong sent the money needed and Dr. Harding and Mrs. Goodwin collected seventy dollars from my friends to help me out. When I got to Kansas City, I lacked fifty cents of having enough money to pay for my ticket east, so I borrowed that of the man at the fruit stand in the depot. In about a week from that I spoke at Atlantic City for the Philadelphia American, the proceeds being used to give the poor children an outing. Thousands of people were present. I never made a note or wrote a sentence for the platform in my life. Have spoken extemporaneously from the first and often went on the platform when I could not have told what I was to say to save my life, and for several weeks God compelled me to open my Bible at random and speak from what my eyes fell on. I have literally proved that: "You shall not think of what you shall speak but it shall be given in that hour." The best thoughts have come to me after being asleep, waking in the night or in the morning.

The way I happened to think of a hatchet as a souvenir, some one brought me one and told me I ought to carry them. I then selected a pattern and got a party in Providence, R. I., to make them. These have been a great financial aid to me; helped me pay my fines and expenses. People have often bought them from me, at my prison cell window. I sell them everywhere I go.

The summer of 1902 I was at Coney Island, speaking in Steeple- Chase Park, and a man was very insulting to me, and always took occasion to say something against women. I can scarcely remember how it was, but I broke or smashed his show case of cigars and cigarettes. I knew I would have to pay for it, but I did not mind paying for the object lesson that it would be, for tobacco is a poison, and the use of it is a vice. I was arrested, stood my trial and was being sent to jail, when Mr. Tilyou, Manager of Steeple-Chase Park, took me from the "Black Maria." The policeman who had the prisoners in charge was purple and bloated from beer drinking, he wanted me to go in a place in the front that was already crowded with women. I refused and he struck me on the hand that was holding to the iron bars of the little window and broke a bone, causing it to swell up. I said: "Never mind, you beer-swelled, whiskey- soaked saturn faced man, God will strike you." In six weeks from that time this man fell dead on the streets of Coney Island. This was the first time I every had handcuffs on. I saw in this experience in Police Courts in Coney Island what I never saw before, eight or ten women sentenced for drunkenness; one the mother of five children, and the others nice looking young ladies, and most of them were weeping. When they received their sentences there would be a smothered laugh from the audience of bloated men present, and I turned and said: "Shame on you, for laughing at the sorrows of these poor women." I thought how heartless it was for men to laugh at the disgrace of women. I got out by paying for the destruction of the cigar case.

I was very successful and made enough money to pay $125 a month to have my SMASHER'S MAIL published in the form of a magazine, but having no one in Topeka that could edit the magazine, doing justice to me, I returned and closed the business.