The Stockade Museum & Carry Nation Home
The Carry Nation Home is a museum housed in the home where Carry lived from 1889 to the early 1900s. It’s also the home she was living in when she started smashing saloons. The site was declared a National Historic Landmark in May 1976. It contains many photos from Carry’s life and other memorabilia of her crusade against alcohol. Other historical items owned and used by Carry include a pump organ, her antique writing desk, a walnut dresser, and an oak bed. The docent of the museum provides knowledgeable and vivid accounts of Carry’s life and legacy.
Next door to the Carry Nation Home Museum is the Stockade Museum built in 1961. The stockade was built to closely match the original frontier stockade of of 1874. It houses historical artifacts and antique items that tell the story of Medicine Lodge, including the actual peace pipe used in the signing of the 1876 Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty. Despite being separately owned, one ticket grants the visitor access to both museums.
Carry’s Early Years
Carrie Amelia Moore was born in Kentucky in 1846. As a child, she suffered poverty, a mother with mental illness who often thought she was Queen Victoria, and her own poor health. Carry’s first husband Charles Gloyd, a physician and a Union solder, was an alcoholic. Her brief time with him gave her first-hand experience of the negative effects of alcoholism. Although she truly loved him, she left him after only a few months. His death in 1869 from alcoholism influenced her passionate activism protesting the deadly disease.
In 1874, Carry married David Nation, a journalist, lawyer, and preacher. He was nineteen years older than Carry. They lived in Missouri and Texas before settling down in Medicine Lodge. In Medicine Lodge, David was the pastor of a Christian Church, while Carry ran a successful hotel.
Carry’s Career as an Activist
Shortly after moving to Medicine Lodge, Carry became involved in religious and community service, began lecturing against the tobacco and alcohol consumption, and founded a chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Carry began smashing saloons in an attempt to enforce the constitutional amendment that prohibited the sale of non-medicinal alcohol, as Kansas saloon keepers generally ignored this amendment.
Between 1900 and 1910, Carry was arrested more than thirty times and suffered numerous physical assaults for destroying saloons with a hatchet while singing and praying in protest of alcohol consumption. The first saloon smashed by Carry was on June 1, 1900, in Kiowa, Kansas, twenty miles south of Medicine Lodge. She destroyed the bar, bottles of alcohol behind the bar, the cash register, mirrors, windows, and anything else she could. While smashing saloons, she struck a formidable pose dressed in all black, almost six-feet tall, and weighing 175 pounds. She called her work “hatchetations.”
Carry A. Nation’s Legacy
During her time, Carry was known as “Mother Nation” because she did a great deal to clothe, feed, and help the unfortunate, especially women and children. She tried to help prisoners in jail believing that alcohol was the cause of the inmates’ troubles. In 1901, she established a shelter for wives and children of alcoholics in Kansas City, which has been described as an “early model of today’s battered women’s shelter.” Her work, though eccentric, paved the way for two amendments to the United States Constitution: the 18th Amendment that prohibited the sale of alcohol and the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote.
Carry will always be remembered and celebrated as a part of Medicine Lodge history. Each year, during the Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty Festival, local actors of various generations reenact her hatchetation on the Red Dog Saloon in the Historical Night Show melodrama.
On your next trip to Medicine Lodge, be sure to visit the Stockade Museum & Carry Nation Home to learn more about this remarkable woman!