A Drunkard's Special
(Reworked from episode broadcast on October 16, 2002)
October 15, 2003
A drunkard's special this week on the Oklahoma Audio Almanac.
Hello, I'm Steven Knoche Kite.
The name Carrie Nation brings up for most people the image of a crazy, elderly, hatchet wielding lady
intent on smashing saloons, and for the most part that image is correct, that was the real Carrie Nation.
Nation, born Carrie Moore in Kentucky in 1855, traveled with her family through Kentucky, Missouri, Texas,
Oklahoma Territory and Kansas before finally settling down.
It was in Kansas where Carrie Moore met her future husband Charles Gloyd. Unfortunately for Carrie,
and the liquor industry, Gloyd was a severe alcoholic eventually dying from the disease. This intimate
association with alcoholism was the catalyst starting Carrie on her saloon-smashing journey. She first
started using bricks and rocks to smash up saloons switching to metal pipes and then eventually her famous
hatchet. Starting in 1900 Carrie, according to her autobiography, followed the instructions of a voice
that told her to go to Kiowa Kansas and smash saloons. From there Carrie traveled to other Kansas towns
smashing along the way.
Obeying a command from God, she married David Nation obtaining the moniker Carrie A. Nation that would
be used for the rest of her life. David Nation, however, later filed for divorce from his wife on the
grounds of cruelty and desertion. Ms. Nation not only followed the "voices" of God but believed strongly
in the prognostic ability of dreams and visions. It is reported that at one saloon-smashing Nation witnessed
the vision of President McKinley seated nearby urging her on. Caught up in her own fame, infamy or delusions,
Nation switched from the hatchet to weapons of a biblical nature. Lecturing with the aid of the Bible,
Ms. Nation expanded her itinerary to include not only liquor but cigars, cigarettes, and baseball as well
as extravagant dress.
It was in this week of 1902 that Carrie Nation brought her message to Stillwater, Guthrie, Shawnee
and Oklahoma City. Seeing apparently much work to be done, Nation settled in Guthrie where in her newspapers:
The Smashers Mail and The Hatchet, she continued
to attack all things immoral, whatever that happened to be for her in that particular week. Nation's attacks,
allegations and tirades increased to the point that her sanity was routinely questioned, and most lecture
halls and theaters were closed to her. Nation, unwelcome in most places, died in 1911 penniless and alone
in Leavenworth, Kansas.
Carrie A. Nation bringing her message to the people of Oklahoma this week on the
The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a joint production of the Oklahoma's Public
Radio and the Oklahoma State University Library.