Sunday, March 29, 2020

Henry Toujouse and “The Golden Era of Galveston”


“At the dawn of the 20th century, Galveston was the grandest city in Texas. It could boast the biggest port, the most millionaires, the swankiest mansions, the first telephones and electric lights, and the most exotic bordellos.”   Watching this “Golden Era of Galveston” unfold with appreciation and geniality was a saloon keeper and hotelier named Henry Toujouse. The 20th Century, however, would bring both Galveston’s Golden Era and Toulouse to tragic ends.

Henry Toulouse was born about 1844 in Vic de Bigorra, a small town in the Hautes-Pyrenees department in southwestern France.  His education and early occupation are undocumented but he arrived in the United States in 1872 at the age of 28 and settled almost immediately in Galveston.  He had chosen well. 

Galveston was a booming city, the fourth largest municipality in the state of Texas in 1900, and boasted among the highest per capita incomes in the United States.  Its handsome downtown area called “The Strand” was deemed the “Wall Street of the Southwest.’’  Located on a natural harbor along the Gulf of Mexico, Galveston was the center of commerce in Texas and one of busiest ports in America.  The local populace had money and were happy to spend it in the city’s saloons, restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues.

Indicating some experience with the hospitality business in France, Toujouse apparently with ease found work as a bartender a popular local saloon.  Shown here, the Galveston Opera House on Tremont Street was a popular gathering place for residents and the Opera House Saloon at street level did a brisk business.  Soon raised to the position of chief bartender, Toulouse watched from a excellent vantage point as the “Golden Age” unfolded.  

When the original proprietor died, the Frenchman took over the saloon, renaming it “Henry’s Opera House Exchange.”  A gracious and popular host, he rapidly became a well-recognized figure in Galveston.  Meanwhile Toulouse was having a personal life.  In 1881 at the age of 37 he married Frances Susan Blackmore, a woman eleven years younger, who was born in Mississippi.  They apparently would have no children.


With considerable wealth now at his disposal, Toujouse was a major investor in the construction of a new hotel at the corner of 22nd Street and Avenue Q, facing the Gulf of Mexico and boasting a wide swimming beach.  Shown here, the four and one-half story hotel was built on 300 cedar piles driven into the sand.  The roof featured an octagonal dome containing water tanks and was painted in bright red and white stripes resembling a huge beach umbrella.  

The interior featured electric and gas lighting, grand staircase, ornate dining room, “gentleman’s parlor,” reading room and — of course — a spacious saloon. Named the Beach Hotel, it was advertised by the management as “The Prettiest Resort on the Beach.” Likely because of his Opera House reputation, Toulouse was selected as the proprietor.

The first several years were highly successful for Toulouse and the Beach Hotel, with locals and tourists alike thronging the place to enjoy summer entertainments that included high-wire artists, bands and, after dark, fireworks.  In 1898, however, it was discovered that the Beach Hotel was flushing its raw sewage via an underground pipe into the Gulf of Mexico, not far from its vaunted beaches.  Galveston health officials called the situation “absolutely disgusting and disgraceful” and shut the building down.  Before the problem could be fixed, the Beach Hotel mysteriously burned and was not rebuilt.

In 1894 the Opera House was sold making it imperative that Toujouse move out of “Henry’s.”  He found a venue immediately across Tremont Street, buying the Stag Hotel, a male-only hostelry, shown here with a banner with his name flying proudly overhead.

 He moved his rosewood bar with its carved panels, shown below and some palm trees into a ground floor saloon.  He issued a trade card to emphasize its tropical ambiance.  At the same time he set up shop in the hotel as a wholesale and retail wine and liquor dealer.  He advertised as the region’s sole agent for “Baker’s Rye Whisky,” “Old Forester,” and “Cascade Sour Mash,” all national brands.


With the dawn of the 20th Century, life in Galveston abruptly was about to change.  In an 1891 article in the Galveston Daily News the city’s weather bureau director Isaac Cline claimed that it would be impossible for a storm of significant strength to strike the island.  Cline was fatally wrong. On September 8, 1900, the “Great Galveston Hurricane” struck.  It was the deadliest natural disaster in American history, killing an estimated 8,000 to 12,000 people, destroying some 7,000 buildings, including 3,636 homes.  Of a population of 38,000 an estimated 10,000 residents were left homeless. The Golden Era of Galveston abruptly ended; the city never fully recovered.

As for Toulouse, while the storm may have damaged the Stag Hotel, he apparently was able to repair it promptly.  Always a believer in newspaper ads, at the holidays in following years he was advertising:  “When Xmas comes, that day of all others in the year, your supply of wines and liquors should comprise only the very best brands. You will never go far wrong if your holiday’s sideboard and tables are supplied by HENRY TOUJOUSE.”  He continued to operate his hotel, saloon and liquor house, apparently with financial success, when in 1913 at the age of 69, he sold the properties and retired.

With the proceeds he moved out of quarters in the Stag Hotel and bought one of the finest mansions in Galveston.  Shown here, the Victorian-era house had been designed by local architect William H. Roystone and built in 1888 for a wealthy local real estate executive.  Its elaborate architecture included turned posts, jig-sawn porch balustrades, recurring floral motifs, a prominent chimney, patterned shingles and a cross-gabled roof capped by a widow's walk.  It too apparently had survived the hurricane with minimal damage.

Henry and Frances Susan lived there for the next four years, apparently just the two of them rambling about in the large house.  His wife’s health may have been deteriorating as she aged.  Frances Susan’s death was recorded occurring in July 1917.  She was buried in Galveston’s Lakeview Cemetery.  Having been married to her for 36 years, Toulouse may have found it difficult to adjust to life without her.  Just over two months later, Henry also was dead.  The coroner’s death certificate was short and to the point:  “Cause of death…Gunshot wound in head, self inflected with suicidal intent.”   Henry was buried next his wife in Lakeview Cemetery.

After a life of not only acceptance but of success in his adopted country, the reason for the suicide of Henry Toujouse, the well-liked saloonkeeper and entrepreneur, remains a mystery.  Was it the death of his wife that occasioned it, or some residual sorrow of what had befallen Galveston, or both?  There is no way to know.  So I merely end this post with Henry’s signature, written in his own hand in a happier time. 


Note:  This post resulted from a wide number of sources, including Ancestry.com.
























Wednesday, March 25, 2020

J. P. Kissinger and “Das Deutsch-Athen Amerikas”


As a center of Germanic culture, Milwaukee for years was known as the “German Athens of North America.”  Steeped in the literature, music and fine arts of his homeland, John Philipp Kissinger contributed to that reputation of the Wisconsin city even as he provided Milwaukeeans with the spirits that enlivened Das Deutsch-Athen Amerikas.  His sculptured likeness is shown here.

J. P. Kissinger was born in 1830 in Selzen, a village situated near the Rhine River in the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany,  His father was a prosperous Lutheran merchant and vintner who assured that his son received a liberal education.  An avid reader growing up, John devoted considerable time to German literature and music.  He also was given an interest in his father’s winery, setting the stage for his subsequent career.

At the age of 24, Kissinger with friends embarked on a sailing vessel for America,  The tedious 58 day crossing the Atlantic had been extended by the quarantine of the ship when cholera was discovered aboard.  Finally disembarking in New York in May 1854, John looked around for a place to settle. Then he heard about Milwaukee.  According to biographer:  “The reports that came to him concerning the prosperity of the city on the western shore of Lake Michigan and of the hospitality and culture of what had then come to be known as the German Athens  impressed him favorably and turned his course in this direction.”


Arriving in Milwaukee in 1854, Kissinger obtained employment in a wine house, working there two years while he perfected his English and saved his money.  Before leaving Germany, John Philipp had married his childhood sweetheart, Elizabeth Duekeret of Hesse-Darmstadt.  He brought her to Milwaukee where she was said, “to preside over his household with the graciousness and helpfulness that have been to him an inspiration.”  The couple would have six children.


Perhaps motivated by his growing family, in 1856 Kissinger established his own small wine and liquor store at the corner of Reed and Lake Streets, soon attracting a patronage of wealthy German businessmen.  Needing more space for his expanding sales, Kissinger moved to larger quarters at 155 Reed Street where he remained until just after the end of the Civil War.  His business having grown considerably during wartime period, he now had sufficient capital to erect his own building at 278-280 East Water Street, a district known for wholesale liquor dealers.


In addition to German wines, Kissinger was featuring his own brands of liquor that included such labels as “Continuous Run,” “Monogram Rye,” “Arbutus Bourbon,” “Harvester Bourbon,” “Monadnock Rye,” Old Veteran,” “Unexcelled,” “Velvet Finish,” “Washita Rye” and “1886 Cabinet Rye.”  Showing his creative ability he provided saloons carrying his whiskeys with “reverse glass” painted signs advertising several of these brands.  Shown here, such artifacts today command four and five figure prices from collectors.


In Milwaukee, the numerous liquor dealers also competed by issuing advertising shot glasses to the saloons, restaurants and hotels featuring their brands.  Kissinger followed suit with an array of his own.  Some showed his trademarked logo, a hops leaf with his monogram imprinted;  others advertised his Arbutus and Harvester bourbons.  Still others simply said “J.P. Kissinger Company Fine Whiskies.”


Meanwhile, the German immigrant was branching out in other directions.  After the great Chicago fire of 1871, with partners he established the Riverdale Distilling Company, the largest plant of its kind in Chicago, covering sixteen acres.  The facility distilled and blended whiskey, gin, and other alcoholic products.  The company, of which Kissinger was first president and later a board member, was reported to use up to a million bushels of grain annually and employ one hundred workers.
  

Just as important, Riverdale broke the Fleischmann & Co. monopoly on the production of compressed yeast in America, earning it the plaudits of the anti-trust community.  Its brand was called “Fermentation.”  The central figure in the Riverdale trade card above may be Kissinger.

In other business efforts, Kissinger helped found the Milwaukee Mirror and Art Glass Works, a firm that gained a national reputation for its stained glass windows and likely also was the source of his fancy reverse glass saloon signs. The founder of the Kissinger Mining Company, he also served on the boards of the Milwaukee Mechanics Fire Insurance Company, the Concordia Fire Insurance Company, and the Milwaukee National Bank. Said his biographer: “Great energy, persistence, and inflexible integrity have been the distinguishing characteristics of his business career and he has richly earned recognition as one of the substantial men of Milwaukee.”

Meanwhile, Kissinger was becoming recognized for his contributions to the cultural life in the German Athens of North America.  His biographer reported:  “He is a great lover of music, of all the fine arts, and since his early youth he has been deeply interested in…the promotion of culture and the consequent betterment of mankind.” Kissinger’s primary efforts were expended on the Milwaukee Sangerbund, German singing groups that competed for prizes in song festivals, an organization of which he was a longtime president.   He was widely hailed for his interest and labor on behalf of the organization, resulting in its development and prosperity.  Kissinger’s 1886 company letterhead advertised a “National Sangerfest” to be held in Milwaukee in July.

Kissinger’s career in Milwaukee was not without setbacks.  On October 28, 1892, a fire broke out in a warehouse of the Union Oil Company that spread to a nearby furniture factory.  It exploded and high winds threw the flames widely over Milwaukee’s Third Ward.  When finally brought under control, the blaze had wiped out sixteen square blocks, burned 410 buildings, destroyed 215 freight cars and killed five people, injuring dozens and leaving thousands homeless.  Property loss was estimated at $84,500,000.

The fire destroyed Kissinger’s Water Street building and consumed his huge stock of wines and liquor.  Undaunted, the Milwaukee entrepreneur within days opened a temporary store.  As the rubble cooled, he announced plans to build anew on the ruined site. By the following year an impressive five-story structure had been erected.  It boasted a symmetrical facade ornamented by pilasters with decorated capitals, window treatments different on each story, garlands on the spandrels, and a cornice with urns at each end.  Shown here at a later day, at the time it was considered one of Milwaukee’s finest buildings.

Kissinger had only a few years left to enjoy his new quarters.  At the age of seventy, he died in December 1900 not long after his wife of 46 years passed away. The J.P. Kissinger Company was carried on until Prohibition by his son, Frederick, whom he had brought into the firms years earlier as secretary and treasurer.

After Lutheran funeral services John Philipp was buried next to Elizabeth in Forest Home Cemetery on Milwaukee’s South Side.  Their children determined that a large monument should be raised to their parents, a tall obelisk in which their portraits would appear in stone.  So it stands today, adjacent to other family graves, a striking reminder of a whiskey distiller and dealer who contributed significantly to the cultural life of Milwaukee and the city’s reputation as “Das Deutsch-Athens Amerikas.”

 

Note:  This post largely is based on a biography of John P. Kissinger from the book, “Milwaukee, A Half Century’s Progress, 1846-1896,”  issued as a souvenir of the city’s golden anniversary by the Consolidated Illustrating Co. of Milwaukee. The author of the biography is not identified.  All quoted sentences in italics are from that source.  Illustrations are from the Internet.








































Saturday, March 21, 2020

William S. Norman — Spokane’s Millionaire Bootlegger



The headline in the Seattle Times of August 3, 1916, told the people of Washington that one of the state’s richest men — owner of three major hotels and other enterprises — had been convicted on charges of bootlegging, fined, and sentenced to two months in jail.  He was William Shepperd Norman, a man said to have “figured prominently in the industrial growth of Spokane city…and with limitless opportunities for accomplishment yet before him.”  To understand what brought Norman to this criminal conviction, it is necessary to begin at the beginning.

Unlike many of the impoverished immigrants to the U.S. who engaged in the liquor trade, Norman, born in 1859, was the scion of a wealthy family of Cheltenham, England that owned and operated two newspapers as well as a large printing and lithographing business.  Shown here, William was given a good education and working as a reporter became adept at stenography.  He arrived in Spokane in 1884 in the company of F. Lewis Clark, a wealthy industrialist, and attempted to forge a career in real estate.

When that failed, Norman fell back on being a court stenographer for major state legal cases. That led to his being hired to manage a contract to provide supplies to the Canadian Pacific Railroad during construction of a line across the Columbia River.  Catching the eye of major West Coast investors, Norman then was tapped to supervise building a steamboat to ply the Columbia.  In time his reputation for business acuity led to his becoming the CEO of Spokane companies that provided telephone, telegraph, electric and street railway services. 

Hailed for his “ability, power of organization and initiative spirit,” Norman’s next foray was into hotels.  When the Spokane Hotel, shown right, went into bankruptcy in 1893, he saw an opportunity, bought and remodeled it into what was termed “the finest hotel in the ‘Island Empire.’”   From there Norman went on to purchase the posh Tacoma Hotel, below right, and the North Yakima Hotel, left.  Aided by his brother, Benjamin, before long William was operating a string of hotels in the West under the name of Norman Hotels, Ltd.  A biographer said of him in 1912:  “In a summary of his life, Mr. Norman can be accorded a prominent place among the empire builders of Eastern Washington.”


Meanwhile, William was having a personal life.  In April 1889, he married Aimee I. Sherlock, a daughter of a prominent Portland, Oregon, family whose father, Richard, was a prosperous merchant.  Aime was 13 years younger than her husband and would die six years before he did.  The Normans would have three children, Kathleen, Marjorie and Sherlock.  

Being an hotelier took Norman into the liquor business. About 1900, he commissioned architect and designer Kirtland Cutter to make a magnificent restaurant at the Spokane Hotel, named “Ye Old Silver Grill”, or just the “Silver Grill”. The restaurant was styled in an impressive “English country look” that proved very popular with the hotel’s guests. The restaurant is said to have served some of the finest cuisine in Spokane.  Locals also would frequent it for dinner, fine wine and alcoholic drinks.   Eventually there were “Silver Grills” in all three Norman hotels..

Each hotel also contained a liquor store that Norman called “Silver Grill Cellars.” Norman claimed not to be a rectifier but said he was bottling and selling only straight goods in ceramic jugs of half-gallon (below left) and gallon size. In his book on Washington State bottles, John Thomas includes a drawing of a glass flask from Silver Grill Cellars, notable since it came with its own metal shot glass.


Norman’s flagship label was “Viking,” a name he never bothered to trademark.  As shown vividly on a shot glass, Viking came in scotch, rye and bourbon forms.  His ads claimed that all three were: “Old in Age. Pure in Make. Strong in Spirits.”  Viking brands were relatively expensive for the times:  The scotch sold for $1.50 a quart and the rye and bourbon for $1.00.  Another Norman brand was “Let ‘Er Buck Whiskey.”


The English immigrant entrepreneur found himself plagued by the prohibitionary initiatives that were multiplying rapidly in Washington.  In 1899, for example, Spokane’s City Council enacted a ban on selling liquor after midnight.  The Normans simply ignored it and continued to sell drinks into the morning hours, acting they said on the advice of their attorneys. Neither William or Ben were arrested.  Working with Spokane’s saloonkeepers, the brothers quickly were effective in repealing the ordinance.  Then the prohibitionist Governor of Washington proposed that liquor should only be sold across a bar from sunrise to sunset.  The dark hours would be dry.  The effort clearly was aimed at working men whose drinking time usually was at night.

Ever aggressive, Norman became regarded as a principal anti-prohibition spokesman.  At a convention of the Washington State Hotel Men’s Assn., convening in the Normans’ Tacoma Hotel, he was the principal speaker on what he termed “Freak Legislation.”  He took “a few stabs” at the governor’s proposal and legislation to prohibit “treating” patrons with drinks or sell alcohol on Sundays.  A newspaper opined:  “Norman is regarded as the best griddle artist on ‘Freak Legislation’ that we have.”

Regardless of his sarcasm, statewide prohibitionary legislation was enacted in Washington in 1916. Perhaps remembering his success at flouting the local law, Norman continued to sell liquor from the Spokane Hotel.  Tipped off, local police raided the place and found a “sophisticated and busy” liquor business being run from a hotel room.  Norman and others involved were arrested.

At Norman’s trial a hotel porter testified the operation got its liquor by rail from a wholesaler in Butte, Montana, a state that was still “wet.” “We wire orders to Butte every noon and afternoon,”  the porter told the court.  Another employee testified:  “I asked Mr. Norman on one occasion about the legality of the (liquor) permit business as it was carried on in room 101, and he assured me the hotel was within the law. … Most of the time I asked no questions, because I thought it was none of my business what was going on in that room.”

Norman’s lawyers put up a spirited defense in Superior Court.  They argued that the “place of sale” was Butte, Montana, and protected under the Interstate Commerce Act.  The judge would hear none of it.  As the headline that opens this post indicates, Norman ultimately was found guilty on charges of bootlegging, of permitting the illegal sale of liquor in his hotel, and of soliciting orders for liquor.  My assumption is that the judgment was appealed but I have been unable to find out whether Norman actually served time.

Shown here as he advanced in age, Norman continued to be active in business, looking after his other investments that now included mining and real estate.  The millionaire utilities executive, hotelier and whiskey man lived to see prohibition repealed in 1934, remaining active into his nineties.  

At 96 after a serious illness of two months, Norman died in the same house he had lived in since 1889.  He was survived by two of his daughters, six grandchildren and fourteen great grandchildren.  He was buried in Spokane’s Greenwood Memorial Terrace Cemetery.  Norman’s newspaper obituary called him:  “A man whose life equaled the most colorful fiction.” 


Note:  The material for this vignette has been drawn from multiple sources, including three volumes containing biographies of Norman of varying length.  They are:  "History of the City of Spokane and Spokane County, Washington," no author cited, from the S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., Spokane, 1912;  "An Illustrated History of Spokane County, State of Washington," by Rev. Jonathan Edwards, H.B. Lever, Publisher, 1900; "Sketches of Washingtonians," A Reference Volume, no author or publisher given, 1907















Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Whiskey Men Meet Carrie Nation

                           
Foreword:  Born in June of 1846 in Kentucky, Carrie (“Carry”) Nation was woman who stood six feet tall and weighed in at 175 pounds. A fervent member of the Temperance Movement, in 1900 she heard a “Voice from Above” that told her to take something hard in her hands and go wreck saloons. Soon she had adopted a hatchet as her weapon of choice and intensified her attacks.  Although arrested some 30 times and spending many nights in jail, she became a national heroine of the Prohibitionist movement. During her escapades she encountered many “whiskey men,” primarily saloonkeepers.  This is the story of three of them.  

In February 1901 Carrie took her crusade to the streets of Chicago.  In his 1931 book “The Old-Time Saloon,” writer George Ade reported of Chicago:  “Saloons were everywhere and many of them open all night and all day Sunday.  One of the most familiar statements…was to the effect that when a drink parlor was opened anywhere in the Loop, the proprietor went over and threw the key into the lake. The more famous hang-outs had not been closed for a single moment for years and years.”  

As a result when Carrie showed up early one morning on busy Dearborn Avenue, above, she found the modest saloon owned by one Henry McCall, open and doing business.  The interior likely resembled the photo here of a typical Chicago drinking establishment, except that McCall, apparently an art lover, featured a revealing statue of a nude woman in his front window.  Gathering her entourage around her, Carrie rushed into the saloon screaming:  “Cover that wicked and shameful object.”

McCall was not in his establishment at the time and the bartender William Luther took the brunt of Nation’s charge. Promising to be back to check on the results, Carrie left to make a speech.  Unsettled by the event, Luther immediately got in touch with McCall, apparently a bachelor who lodged at the Auditorium Hotel in downtown Chicago, shown here. The owner rushed to the scene.  According to press accounts McCall tossed a “flimsy pink netting” over the statue that left two nipples peeking seductively through the mesh.

True to her promise, Carrie returned sometime later.   According to press accounts, the hatchet-wielder became even more outraged. She instructed McCall:  I want you to take away that statue or clothe it properly at once.  Dress it as you would wish to see your mother and sister dressed.  Now, I mean what I say, and if you don’t obey by night I’ll make souvenirs of that statue.”  

McCall, correctly reckoning that “a soft word turns away wrath,” told Carrie he would not like to see his sister insufficiently clothed, He promptly dressed the statue in an encompassing Mother Hubbard dress and plopped a sunbonnet on her head.  Carrie left apparently satisfied she had safeguarded the morals of Chicago. But McCall was playing a game.  As soon as she was gone, he pulled down the gown to expose the figure’s impressive left breast and tilted the bonnet seductively.  Said a biographer:  “Overnight the bar’s celebrity was sealed.”  Chicagoans crowded into McCall’s saloon to see the famous statue.  The proprietor is said to have enriched himself considerably from the publicity.  

In 1846 the Maine legislature passed the first laws in the United States outlawing the sale of liquor statewide except for “industrial and medicinal purposes.”  Over the years those prohibitions were broadened and strengthened. Nevertheless, John A. Burns, among a number of Maine whiskey men, operated a wide open business for years, taking advantage of being located in Bangor, Maine — a city that earned the ire of Carrie Nation.


In Bangor a different alcohol regime prevailed.  Liquor dealers, saloons, hotels and restaurants operated under what was called “The Bangor Plan.”  Under this arrangement owners of establishments that sold whiskey, beer or wine could go to court twice a year and pay a set fine, some termed it a “tax.”  Police and other officials would ignore the traffic in spiritous drink the rest of the time.  

Burns was the most prominent of the city's liquor wholesalers.  A Bangor historian has noted that “…The framed whiskey advertisements of Bangor wholesale dealer J. A. Burns & Co. [were] hanging in saloon windows all across town.”  Having been elected to the Bangor town council probably enhanced Burns’ reputation.  He was going into court semi-annually to pay a fine for his “liquor nuisance,” amounting to $210, equivalent to something over $5,000 today, but a still a bargain.  Moreover, as recorded by the Maine Attorney General, citations to Burns for liquor violations inevitably resulted in “no prosecution” — reasons not given.  

In 1893 former Maine Governor Neal Dow, a Prohibition Party stalwart, was asked:  “Do you know anything about how the prohibitionary law works in the city of Bangor.  Dow replied:  “I do not know anything good about Bangor.”  It likely was Dow and his compatriots who invited Carrie Nation and her hatchet to come to Bangor.  She would go anywhere she was asked, if her way was paid.  Her arrival in 1902, announced by the press, must have been anticipated by both “dry” and “wet” forces, including Burns.


Her sponsors checked her into the Bangor House, shown left, then the largest hotel in Maine and considered the city’s finest hostelry, boasting a fireplace in each room and steam heat throughout.   Soon after arriving, Carrie drifted downstairs to the hotel restaurant where she found guests being served alcohol drinks.  She promptly raised a ruckus.  But alerted to her visit, local authorities were waiting. Carrie promptly was escorted back to her room, made to pack, ejected from the hotel, and delivered into the custody of the local police.  Although not incarcerated, she was shown the way out of town.   Thereafter, Carrie had only invective to heap on Bangor.

Having been arrested in her native Kansas, fined and jailed for a time, about 1905 Carrie moved her operations to the town of Guthrie in the Oklahoma Territory where a controversy was brewing about adopting a “dry” constitution when Oklahoma became a state.  A biographer commented:  “Paradoxically, the region was as lawless as any part of the country, the refuge of gunmen and rustlers, a place beyond the reach of state and federal marshals….”  

There Carrie met Moses Weinberger. In 1889 Weinberger had headed for the newly opened Oklahoma Territory to seek his fortune.   It came to him initially through the sale of bananas to homesteaders and later when he opened the first legal saloon in the Territory.  He was known as “The Same Old Moses,” also the name of his drinking establishment, shown below.  The center figure, I believe, is the proprietor.


Weinberger was a popular gent in Guthrie, a genial saloon proprietor who regularly gave his customers tokens good for drinks and gifted them with other items.  He demonstrated his sense of humor by inviting Carrie Nation into his drinking establishment to give a temperance speech.  Weinberger made one stipulation, however, there was to be no axe swinging.  Carry kept her promise until the end of her speech when she apparently felt she had to satisfy the fanaticism of her entourage.  Having been handed a hatchet by one of her adherents, Carrie whirled about and did what she called a “hachetation” on Moses’ mahogany bar, removing a chunk of it. 

Carrie promptly was removed from the premises and Weinberger later hung a sign over a wall of the saloon that read:  “All Nations welcomed except Carrie.”   The hacked bar took on an instant celebrity, shown to visitors repeatedly as the place where the prohibition zealot had done her damage.  It also reputedly became the place where saloon patrons banged their empty beer mugs when they wanted another round.  In 1907 Carrie left Guthrie for Washington, D.C., never to return.

Weinberger’s memory is enshrined in a marker on the spot where his saloon once stood.  It tells the story of the pioneer saloonkeeper, his encounter with Carrie Nation, and the coming of statewide prohibition..  On a list of “State Greats,” in a history book used in Oklahoma schools the name of Moses Weinberger could be found in the company of humorist Will Rogers and athlete Jim Thorpe.  Carrie Nation’s name does not appear.

Notes:  The incidents that make up this post come from a variety of sources.  The Chicago incident has been written up several times, including by Robert Lewis Taylor in his 1966 book, “Vessel of Wrath: The Life and Times of Carry Nation.”  The Maine incident is from news stories.  The Oklahoma account was derived from a 1937 interview of Moses Weinberger by Ruth W. Moon for the Indian-Pioneer History Project.  Longer biographies of Burns and Weinberger on this post can be found, respectively, at April 8, 2016, and February 15, 2014.