'Twas the night before New Year's Eve, 1905.
A woman walked into a saloon in Houston's Fifth Ward. She was six feet tall...of grandmotherly countenance...and wearing a somber widow's dress of the Victorian era.
She stepped up to the bar and hurled a brick into the barback mirror. A second later she was behind the bar, shattering a case of hooch with a hatchet...and threatening to do the same to the barkeep, if he intervened.
The woman was Carrie Amelia Moore Gloyd Nation...and she hated booze. Her first husband, Dr. Charles Gloyd had been a violent alcoholic. Liquor destroyed his career, destroyed his finances and finally killed him, leaving Carrie to make a life for herself and their daughter.
A few years later she married David Nation, an attorney, minister and newspaper editor. They moved to Brazoria County, were Carrie ran a hotel in Columbia and later in Richmond.
Political troubles drove the family to Kansas. That's where Carrie first began busting up saloons with her trusty hatchet in order to save men from a drunkard's fate. She made quite a name for herself and was soon a favorite on the temperance lecture circuit.
"I can not tell a lie. I wrecked the saloon
with my little hatchet."
But her enmity for this particular saloon had a special edge to it. The proprietor, a Mr. O'Brien, had named his establishment The Carrie Nation Saloon.
Carrie told the Houston Daily Post the following day:
"I requested that my name be taken from the place several months ago, and I told the proprietor that if he did not change the name I would come back and wreck the place. He promised that he would change the name. He failed to do it, and I had but one recourse. I am not a man and could not whip him; I did not want to use a pistol on him, and I simply wrecked the saloon."
Mr. O'Brien docked a few letters from his sign and the place became The Carnation Saloon. He later claimed that the publicity he received was worth far more that the $700 in damage Carrie had done with brick and hatchet.