Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Temperance Activities in Early Sandusky

According to an early Western Reserve Historical Society Tract (in 1888), the first temperance society in Huron County was organized by F. D. Parish in 1831. (Sandusky was located in Huron County until the creation of Erie County in 1838.)

Hewson L. Peeke’s History of Erie County contains an entire chapter devoted to temperance activities in Erie County. He states that in the 1840s the “Sons of Temperance” and the “Washingtonian Total Abstinence Society” were both organizations that were opposed to the use or manufacturing of intoxicating beverages.

A joint parade was celebrated on St. Patrick’s Day in 1844 by the local members of the “Sons of the Emerald Isle” and the “Washingtonian Total Abstinence Society,” followed by a dinner at the Mansion House. On June 10, 1847, the Sons of Temperance had a parade in Sandusky, with members coming from Sandusky, Castalia, Mansfield, Mount Vernon, Tiffin, and Republic. An estimated 300 members marched in the parade.

On the night of August 7, 1849, a meeting was held at the Congregational Church for the purpose of organizing a Temperance League. There were nineteen women who were active members, and five women who were supporting members. Later their group became a chapter of the W.C.T.U., the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. (The opening page of their book of minutes from 1879 is shown above.) The women gathered regularly to pray, sing, and make plans on how to spread the message of temperance throughout all sections of the community.

Mrs. M.F. Cowdery (above) was a founding member of the Temperance League in Sandusky. (This portrait shows her, circa 1895, when she was a founding member of the organization that eventually became the Library Association of Sandusky.)

Ohioans were very involved in the temperance movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There is a museum devoted to the Anti-Saloon League (whose origin is traced to Oberlin in 1893) at the Westerville Public Library.

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