Woman's Christian Temperance Union

Source:  The History of Harrison County, Missouri
George Wanamaker, 1921

The first organization of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union in Harrison County was organized in the fall of 1883.  Mrs. Clardy, the state president, came to Bethany to get the women interested, going from one church to another before she could get any interest at all.  She called on Mrs. Elizabeth Allen Roberts, who had become a member of the organization in Colorado under the leadership of Frances Willard in 1882, and has the distinction of being the first W.C.T.U. woman in Harrison County.

The first local union was organized in Bethany on Monday morning in October, 1883, at the old Methodist Church, there being only the scriptural numbers present, seven women.  Mrs. Z.P. Hamilton was elected president, Mrs. J.M. Roberts recording secretary and Mrs. J.C. M. McGeorge treasurer.  From this nucleus of women grew the great Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Harrison County.

Local Unions were soon organized in other towns in the county and speakers of note came, such as Colonel George Bain of Kentucky, Sobieski, Colonel C. J. Holt, Luther Benson, Ainsley Grey, Joe Critchfield, Clara Hoffman, Callie Howe, Carrie Lee Carter, Nelle Burges, Eliza Ingalls, and a host of others too numerous to mention.

Harrison County was in the old fourth district, which comprised five counties, Worth, Gentry, DeKalb, Daviess and Harrison and was presided over by Mrs. Maud Allen as district president and one of the untiring workers.  In 1896 under the leadership of Mrs. Ella Wren the Bethany Union entertained the state convention and many wre the praises of Bethany sung by the women attending the convention.

In 1911 Harrison with the other counties of the state was made a district by itself, thereby making the county president a member of the state executive and one of the vice presidents of the state.  Mrs. Martha Miner of Ridgeway, was the first woman in the county to fill this difficult plance in a most acceptable manner, for it was a difficult office to fill when the districts were under reconstruction.  In 1912 Mrs. Melissa Platz of Blue Ridge, became president and Mrs. Martha Miner vice president, and later Mrs. J.C. Ruby, treasurer.  To these three untiring workersbelongs the credit of bringing the Harrison County district up to one of the leading districts in the state.  Twice has Harrison County won distinction for the best press work in the stte, once through Mrs. Alice Blackburn, state press superintendent, who presented the Alice Blackburn Star and once by Mrs. Sarah German, who won back the star for the best press work in the state.  Mrs. Ruby has been acknowledged by the state officers as one of the best treasurers in the state.

In 1916 Harrison County gave the greatest number of votes per capita for prohibition of any county in the state.  To Harrison County belongs one of the illustrious workers for the prohibition cause in northwest Missouri, Judge Burrows of Cainsville, whose wife has been local president of the Cainsville Union for many years and whose daughters, Mrs. Minnie B. Oden, became the third president for Harrison district October 1, 1920, at the annual convention held in Ridgeway.

There have been so many loyal workers in the temperance work in the county that a history of the work is not complete without mention of them such as Grandma Ruby, Mother Crossan, Julia Towns, Sadie Alden, Nellie Nevill and others.  Space forbids mention of them all, but this we know, that in the other world every one will received the credit due them for the blessing they have brought to humanity----Elizabeth Roberts, Melissa Platz


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