On December 27, 1900, the temperance activist Carry Nation (also sometimes spelled Carrie) smashed up the bar at the Carey Hotel in Wichita, Kansas and was sent to prison. This was also where her iconic hatchet made its appearance.
Carrie Amelia Moore was born in Kentucky in 1846. Her first marriage to Charles Gloyd, a Union Civil War doctor, didn’t last long due to his alcoholism which killed him shortly after she left him, taking their young daughter with her. Her next marriage was to David Nation, an attorney and minster. The couple finally settled in Kansas where Carry started a local chapter of the WCTU (Women’s Christian Temperance Movement). Deciding it wasn’t enough, Carry turned to more extreme measures beginning with a raid on a pharmacy where she and the members of her “Home Defenders” burned a barrel of whiskey. After a dream, she began smashing barrooms which led to frequent arrests and fines. Her husband divorced her in 1901, claiming desertion. Eventually Carry moved on from smashing barrooms to lectures, publications, and selling souvenir hatchets. Here at the museum we have one of the small souvenir hatchets with Carry A. Nation inscribed on the handle. Her name was a clever play on words because she believed she was carrying the nation to prohibition. Carry died in 1911, nine years before prohibition went into effect in 1920.
Carry visited Cañon City in 1906 where she spoke in the courthouse. She had originally arrived a day earlier but her coming had not been announced and so there were no preparations for her to speak. She instead proceeded up to Leadville and returned to Cañon City the next evening. After her speech, subscriptions for her paper “The Hatchet” were sold along with a memoir of her life and small hatchet pins. It was likely during this 1906 visit that this pin was acquired by the donor.
Cañon City had its own WCTU chapter and many advocating for prohibition. In fact, we also have in our collection a quilt from 1901 with signatures from the Carrie Hatchet club embroidered in red thread. There are over 350 signatures on the quilt of temperance advocates. It’s no wonder the courtroom was filled tightly with people ready to listen to Carry Nation speak!
If you’d like to know more about prohibition or any other Fremont County history, stop by Wednesday through Saturday from 10 AM- 4 PM, call us at (719) 269-9036, or send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lapel pin in the shape of a hatchet with Carry A. Nation on the handle; Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center
“Carrie Hatchet Club” Quilt with signatures in red embroidery; ca. 1901; Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center
The information presented in this article is compiled using research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.