Carrie Nation

The most famous female hell-raiser in the world descended on Richmond at least five times.

Carry Nation and her hatchet have long since passed into legend, but this “force of nature” made her mark in Richmond.

She had swung her battle-axe from Wyatt Earp’s brawling Wichita… to the Tenderloin District of New York, to the halls of Harvard and Yale… and finally to Richmond along Main where she visited local whiskey hellholes and dispensed vindication “on the wicked, riotous, rum-soaked, beer-swilled, bedeviled snake holes of rotgut impartation that leads to perdition and stokes the fires of hell with souls aplenty!”

The bar-smashing firebrand’s first husband had died a drunkard, which for her demonized alcohol. She later married a lawyer 19 years her senior. This new husband, David Nation, was from Indiana. His father, Enoch, lived near New Lisbon and died in Dublin, and was a local judge and Civil War veteran.

Both men had trained in Richmond for the Union Army.

David later divorced Carry due to “desertion” for her bar-smashing.

Wherever she dashed down Main she screamed, “Shame on you, rum-soaked allies of Satan!… God gave Samson the jawbone! He gave David the sling, and he has given me my hatchet!... My strength is that of a giant! I tell you ladies in Richmond, you don’t know how good it feels till you begin to smash, smash, smash! …This wicked city sweeps far and wide the juice of perversion and the billiard vice… It must be converted and reclaimed!”

Carrie Nation eventually faded into obscurity and died in a mental health facility on June 9, 1911.

Her final, barely audible words were, “I… have… done… what… I… could.”

Which was true.


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June 19, 2012