Historic Wayside Tour #3
Carry Amelia Nation, the Kansas Prohibitionist, who became internationally known for breaking up saloons, was born in Kentucky in 1846. The widow of an alcoholic, she remarried and settled in Medicine Lodge, Kansas.
The state constitution prohibited the open saloon but many Kansas towns had them. Mrs. Nation launched a one-woman campaign against alcoholic spirits, carrying a hatchet and a Bible. She prayed for fallen souls and left hatchet marks on bars. Her first bid for national fame came in December 1900, when she demolished the Carey Hotel bar at Wichita and destroyed its liquor. Most of her saloon smashing was done in Kansas, although she made a number of trips out of state.
She was arrested 30 times. She published temperance magazines and lectured and sold miniature hatchets to finance her war on alcohol. Carry Nation visited Leavenworth in March 1901, but without her hatchet. She did no damage while in Leavenworth. Ferdinando Mella, proprietor of the National Hotel at 4th and Cherokee, arranged for a police escort and stayed with her as she visited several locations in town and took a streetcar to the Soldiers Home.
The word had spread of her impending visit and the bars were closed. After Mr. Mella escorted her to her room on the second floor of the National Hotel, the saloon on the first floor was opened and did a brisk business, largely because of the many people who had turned out to see Cyclone Carry, as she was called by the newspapers. She did not return to Leavenworth until January 1911, when in ill health, she was brought by a nephew to the Evergreen Sanitarium at Maple Avenue and Limit Street. She died there five months later, [on] June 9, and is buried in Belton, Missouri.
Called "saintly" by some and "crazy" by many, Carry Nation was at one time, the most talked-about woman in the world.