The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 4, Page 18.


Porter County W. C. T. U. Has Seen Sixty Years of Striving For Its Ideals

One of the few social welfare agencies in Porter county that can look back over more than 60 years of service is the Woman's Christian Temperance Union.

The first period from 1826 to 1846 marked the advance from the old temperance program to the state-wide movement, working by townships, county and state, with activities throughout all the states.

In 1846 a Temperance League was formed in Valparaiso, with branches in four or five other places in the county. In 1847 legislation providing for local option for townships to decide whether licenses should be granted.

Citizens of Center, Liberty, Jackson, Porter, Morgan, Washington and Portage refused, some by substantial majorities, to grant licenses, while in Union, Boone, Calumet, Westchester and Pleasant the people declared for license by small majorities.

In 1847 there was a definite launching of a woman's movement, called the Crusade, for scientific instruction in the public schools. During these early crusade days the women in the earnestness to stop the increase in drunkenness and debauchery of their sons and husbands, formed bands for prayer and they entered the saloons and prayed and pleaded with the keepers to resist selling intoxicating liquors.

If not permitted inside the saloons they knelt in prayer and sang. Many times they were insulted and mistreated and at times had objected hurled at them. In one instance while kneeling in prayer before one saloon they were drenched with hot water from an upstairs window and on another occasion dish water was dashed upon them.

Mayor John N. Skinner alarmed at the spread of the movement issued a proclamation warning the women that if they persisted in carrying out their service on and about the premises it would result in officers dispersing such assemblages.

In a few house after the appearance of the mayor's proclamation, the ladies responded with a manifesto expressing the opinion that they had the right to persuade men to cease from strong drink, and to plead with the liquor seller to ceased from his traffic. They announced they would go forward in their work, and if the hand of violence was laid upon them, they would make their humble and confident appeal to the God they served, and to the laws of the state, whose faithful citizens they were.

The temperance question proved to be an issue in succeeding election, but Mayor Skinner was re-elected after a hot contest.

Signing the manifesto issued by the Crusaders to Mr. Skinner's proclamation were Mrs. A. V. Bartholomew, Mrs. L. C. Buckles, Mrs. E. Skinner, Mrs. A. Gurney and Mrs. E. Ball, members of the executive committee.

The earliest list of names that can be traced of the Crusaders forming a Woman's Christian Temperance Union dates back to 1890 and is as follows: Mrs. H. M. Cross, county treasurer; Mrs. Belle Aylesworth, county secretary, Mrs. W. B. McCallum, S. DeLong, Mary Brown, Theron Bell, Mr. Cahouse, H. A. Campbell, H. M. Gross, E. D. Crumpacker, Isaac Cornell, Mrs. Demsey, O. Dusharne, Christine Deshler, E. Davis, Paul Evans, Mrs. Fillibaum, Miss Sheldon, William Freeman, A. N. Foster, C. M. Herrick, J. E. Hall, M. J. Halton, T. H. Heard, R. A. Heritage, J. S. Louderback, J. D. Louderback, Alva Leonard, W. F. Lederer, Mrs. J. E. Maxwell, Lizzie McAlilly, J. A. McConahy, Mrs. Munger, C. H. Marine, Mrs. Nichols, Becky Peirce, J. H. O. Smith, Thomas Shreve, C. J. Stevens, J. N. Spense, Mrs. Stratton, A. Stoner, Mrs. Stockman, Mrs. J. H. Upthegrove, S. N. Wilson, Saline White, Adaline White, Geo. Williams, Alice Windle and Minnie Winters.

The declaration of principles adopted by the Woman's Christian Temperance Union in part were as follows.

"We believe in the coming of His kingdom whose service is perfect freedom, because His laws, written in our members as in nature and in grace, are perfect, converting the soul.

"We believe in the gospel of the Golden Rule, and each man's habit of life should be an example great and beneficent for every other man to follow.

"We believe that God created both man and woman in His own image, therefore we believe in one standard of purity for both men and women, and in equal rights of all to hold opinions and to express the same with equal freedom.

"We believe in a living wage; in courts of conciliation and arbitration; in justice as opposed to greed of gain; in 'peace on each and good will to men.'

"We therefore formulate and for ourselves adopt the following pledge asking our sisters and brothers of a common danger and a common hope, to make common cause with us, in working its reasonable and helpful precepts of every day life:

"I hereby solemnly promise, God helping me, to abstain from all distilled, fermented and malt liquors, including wine, beer and cider, and to employ all proper means to discourage the use of and traffic in same.

"Top conform and enforce the national part of this pledge, we declare our purpose to educate the young; to form a better public sentiment; to reform as far as possible, by religious, ethical and scientific means, the drinking classes; to seek the transformating power of Divine grace for ourselves and all for whom we work, that they and we may willfully transcend no law of pure and wholesome living, and finally pledge ourselves to labor and to pray for all these principles, founded upon the Gospel of Christ, may be worked out into the customs of society and the laws of the land."

In June, 1911, there was another concerted effort on the part of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union to carry out these principles with pledge signing. Various public gatherings were held and temperance speeches made with a great awakening for the temperance cause. It was talked on the streets and in the homes, and taught in the schools. The slogan, "A Saloonless Nation in 1920" was the cry of all church and temperance organizations.

The first county president of record was Mrs. Capitola Dilley, of Hebron. The Union was organized a number of times prior to Mrs. Dilley taking office. Much hard and strenuous work had been done before the 18th amendment was written in the Constitution. Mrs. Dilley was a faithful and ardent worker and put new life into the Valparaiso and Hebron unions.

In 1922 Mrs. Harry Albery was president of the Union, and with untiring effort added many new members. In 1923, Mrs. Frank B. Chester was chosen president and held the office until she took over a government position. Mrs. Harry Albery filled out Mrs. Chester's unexpired term.

Mrs. Mary Stiles followed Mrs. Albery, and served as president during 1925. In 1926, Mrs. Albery again served as president.

In 1926, Mrs. Medilla W. Cox was chosen leader, and for a year led in an educational campaign in city and county schools, and then was made president of the county.

In Valparaiso, Mrs. Ira Mummert took up the standard of temperance and held the office for two years, and then was followed by Mrs. Pearl Barnett in 1929; Mrs. Frank Darst in 1930 and 1931; Mrs. R. F. Ballaher in 1932; Mrs. Carl G. Steward in 1933, Mrs. W. W. McWhitney in 1934, and Mrs. O. W. Gibbs in 1935 and 1936.

Mrs. Charles Simpson, Mrs. Jenney McMillen and Miss Bryan were the president carrying on in Hebron, while in Wheeler, Mrs. Don Richmond and Mrs. Carl Davis carried the temperance banner for many years. Chesterton also had many faithful women in sympathy with the other unions. They were Mrs. Karl Simpson, Mrs. L. P. Matson, Mrs. H. Atchison and Mrs. Fannie Neely, now president, are still carrying on the work in an aggressive way. Miss Irma Stephens organized the Loyal Temperance Legion of children in 1926 and some splendid work has been accomplished.

In the same year Mrs. E. A. York started a Loyal Temperance Legion in Valparaiso, which was a live organization for many years.

The Woman's Christian Temperance Union through the eight years of Mrs. Cox's leadership, achieved signal success through putting on essay contests in the public schools and oratorical contests with contestants from Hebron, Wheeler, Chesterton and Valparaiso.

With the splendid co-operation of superintendents, the students throughout the county gladly took part and awards were presented to the winners. Posters illustrating the effects of intoxicating liquors showed much interest on the part of the children. Family night was a new feature introduced in temperance work, which included all members of the family in a yearly gathering. Sunday schools co-operated in a fine way with the W. C. T. U. and many pledges were signed and temperance plays and addresses given.

In 1928, Mrs. Cox, while president of the county group, permitted her name to be put up as a candidate for sheriff of Porter county, coming out as a strict dry on the democratic ticket, while Al Smith, democratic candidate for president was campaigning on a wet ticket. Mrs. Cox opposed Burney Maxwell and polled over 3,000 votes.

In the wet and dry election of 1933 to elect delegates to the state convention to decide whether Indiana was in favor or vote against repeal of the 18th amendment, John W. Sieb and John M. Fabing the wet candidates, defeated Robert Wise and Mrs. C. W. Boucher, the dry candidates, by a vote of 3,910 to 1,536.

After eight years as leader of the temperance hosts of Porter county, Mrs. Cox refused re-election in 1933, and Miss Irma Stephens was elected and has held the office since. Under Miss Stephen's leadership the banner is moving forward. With her splendid officers and co-workers throughout the county, through education, agitation and co-operation, the Womans' Christian Temperance Union is marching on toward a still greater victory over legalized liquors.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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