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Nation, Carry

Carry Nation's visit to Kansas in early 1901 was marked by the anti-saloon forays (with her trademark hatchet) for which she is chiefly remembered. When finished in Kansas, Mrs. Nation and her entourage traveled north by train to Council Bluffs on their way to Des Moines. Excited rumors that she planned to descend on the saloons of Omaha appeared in the Nebraska press. The Omaha Daily News on February 9, 1901, reported her brief stay in Council Bluffs and her decision to sidestep Omaha.

"Mrs. Carrie [sic] Nation, the 'Kansas Cyclone,' whose coming to other cities is heralded by flaming posters and who is met at the depot by enthusiastic reception committees armed with hatchets, arrived unannounced at the union transfer in Council Bluffs at 5:50 this morning on her way from Kansas City to Des Moines. Two hours later she and her party took the train for the Iowa capital. No one met her except the night force of depot employees, whose welcome was greatly modified by the vigilant watch which they deemed necessary to keep on her and the saloon across the way. . . .

"When Mrs. Nation hopped from the train at the Council Bluffs depot, she was evidently bearing a flag of peace for she was not attired in her 'raiding' dress, an old black gown, with little rents and ugly liquor spots on it. She was dressed in a costume that was not particularly new or fashionable. 'But I've got that other dress with me, and I may have to put it on before I get through with this trip,' she declared, with a laugh that shook her all over. 'I do not intend to smash any joints on this trip, although I will not go out of my way [to] avoid one.'"

A separate article in the same issue of the Daily News quoted Judge Charles T. Dickinson of Omaha, who had just returned from Kansas: "'The escapades of Mrs. Nation are the chief topic of conversation down there. . . . I have been told that she is coming to Chicago and Omaha to lecture. An attorney jokingly remarked, this morning, that the barkeepers were beginning to put armor on their saloon fixtures in anticipation of the call.'"

Mrs. Nation was asked at Council Bluffs whether she would go to Omaha, and she replied that she would not, implying that the necessity of keeping her lecture commitments prevented it.

(March 2001)



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