Carrie A Nation The Famous and Original Bar Room Smasher

“Well behaved women rarely make history!”  There are examples of woman who have been and are current movers and shakers in society.  There was one, many have forgotten who headed the temperance movement at the end of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries named Carrie A. Nation. She was known for making a point of her cause by entering an alcohol serving establishment with a hatchet and destroying the bar.

Nation was a large woman almost six feet tall, 175 pounds and a stern Carry Nationcountenance and described herself as “a bulldog running along the feet of Jesus, barking at what he doesn’t like.” Many of Nations family members suffered from mental illnesses and her mother had a delusion that she was Queen Victoria. Nation was first married to Charles Gloyd who was a severe alcoholic and the two divorced after the birth of the her daughter. She married a second time to David Nation who was a minister, news paper editor and attorney and had a try at running a hotel.

Later Nation and her husband moved to Medicine Lodge, Kansas where David Nation found a job as preacher in a local church. Carry there started her work in the temperance movement and would greet bartenders in front of saloons with “good morning destroyer of men’s souls”. She began to pray for direction and it’s said she heard from a voice telling her to Go to KIOWA and to take something in her hands and smash them. Responding to her revelation, Nation gathered several rocks (smashers she called them) and entered Dobson’s Saloon and announced “men I have come to save you from a drunkards fate” and began smashing up the bar with her rocks. After destroying a few more bars in Wichita Kansas her husband jokingly said, why not use a hatchet for maximum damage her reply was “that is the most sensible thing you’ve said since we’ve been married”, they soon divorced.

She, accompanied by several women would sing hymns and go into bars smashing them up, get arrested and have to pay fines. Carrie Nation lead a movement which eventually lead to prohibition but towards the end of that era people saw it created more problems then it solved. She was a mover, shaker and smasher and her name is joked about by several of us bartenders and patrons that enjoy well made libations. Next time you have a cocktail say here’s to Carry Nation.


John Apodaca


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