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Historically Speaking: Carrie Nation

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Photo Courtesy of the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico Archives The caption on the photo reads, "Automobiles and unidentified passengers in front of Pool Hall, 123 N. Main St., Roswell" — date unknown.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Carrie Nation, the town of ‘Hinkle,’ Lake Arthur and the Anti-Saloon League

By Janice Dunnahoo

Special to the Daily

Record

I have previously written an article about James Hinkle when he was elected mayor of Roswell and his decision on “cleaning the town up.” Apparently, there was a house of ill repute in Roswell involving gambling and drinking back then. Hinkle decided this riff-raff would have to be moved outside the city limits.

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As the story goes, after he was elected, and made this ruling, they moved to the other side of the railroad tracks from Main Street, which at that time, was outside the city limits. After their move, they decided to call themselves the town of “Hinkle,” for obvious reasons. This was a story Elvis Fleming used to jokingly tell with a twinkle in his eye.

I recently ran across an article in the Roswell Daily Record dated Oct. 29, 1906. This article sheds more light on the town of Hinkle and a visit they had by a nationally known figure who went by the name of Carrie Nation.

Around the turn of the century, temperance societies sprung up in the United States. Alcohol was viewed as the downfall in destroying families and marriages, so women began to play a strong role in the temperance movement. Carrie Nation was a leader among these women. The Anti-Saloon League began a new wave of attacks around 1906 and the “saloon culture” was viewed as corrupt and ungodly, spurred by the rise of Protestantism, Nation was known for walking into saloons with a hatchet under her skirts and proceed to pull out the hatchet and break open wine and whiskey barrels. Here is the article about her visit to Roswell:

Carrie Nation Visits

“Hinkle”

 

“Mrs. Carrie A. Nation, the saloon smasher, made a trip Saturday night to ‘Hinkle,’ the gambling joint just outside of the city, that has been established since gambling was driven from the city under the leadership of ex-mayor J.F. Hinkle.

“After addressing a packed house at the Christian church, the smasher, accompanied by Mrs. C.B. Hutchinson, secured a carriage and was driven to the gamblers’ refuge. There she entered the place of W.M. Devins, and made a complete investigation. The manager in charge had been notified by telephone of the approaching Carrie, and was ready to receive her. He invited her to have a seat and treated her with all the polite consideration possible. He chivalrously escorted her from one game to another, and explained the roulette wheel, the monte table, and the poker game. The playing was in operation and Mrs. Nation took evident interest in all of the details. When shown the ‘pitch’ table, she said she knew how to play pitch, but declined when the dealer offered to give her a hand.

“It was apparent that the gamblers were all eyes and ears and a little bit nervous, lest Carrie should pull a hatchet from under her garments and break up the house. Instead of doing this, however, she gave the gamblers a sound lecture. She told them they were in a business that classed them with the lowest of men. She said they ought to be ashamed to be running games that were devised to trick money from hardworking men. “One young man was playing the roulette wheel. She appealed to his honor and to the memory of his mother to stop.

“Finally she inquired what right they had to run such a place, and the answer was ‘A license.’ She said, ‘Let me see that license.’ The paper was produced and she read it aloud, remarking, ‘Well, I see that the United States Government and Theodore Roosevelt are back of this business. I blame them more than I do you, for they are responsible for the whole affair.’

“With that she expressed her desire to leave. The manager gallantly escorted her to the carriage, when it had been summoned, and assisted her to enter. Then he came back and passed around a box of cigars to the crowd that had gathered to see the fun.

“Thus the visit to Hinkle was very tame. But there was excitement in town while it was going on. The news that Carrie Nation had started to ‘Hinkle’ created a furor. Every available carriage was secured and loaded to the limit with men who wanted to go to ‘Hinkle’ and see the fun. But those who got there before Mrs. Nation were somewhat disappointed, as she did nothing more than examine the place and tell the gamblers her opinion of their business.

“The lecture at the Christian church Saturday night was not so sensational as the one Friday evening, and it found much favor in the audience. For the most part it was a quiet description of Carrie Nation’s saloon smashing. She related the fact that Kansas has laws against the operation of saloons, how she learned there were saloons in Kiowa, Kansas, how she appealed to the land authorities to get them put out of business, and, failing in this, put them out of business herself. She claims that she was inspired by God to use force in breaking up the saloons, and, among other things, said that she saw a host of devils in front of her buggy while on her way to Kiowa to do the first smashing. She told the men in the audience that they could do their smashing by voting right, by voting the Prohibition ticket. She gave her usual tirade against both the old political parties. One remark that was received with much laughter was: ‘I see you have pool rooms here. They are merely traps to get the young men out at night and teach them to smoke cigarettes and other bad habits. The pool room is the devil’s setting hen. She will hatch.’

“Mrs. Nation gave a lecture exclusively to men Sunday afternoon. The meeting was to have been held in the courthouse, but the room would not hold half those who came, so the place was changed to the courthouse plaza. There she said some things that all men, especially young ones, should hear. Of course, she said many extreme things, but the main portion of her talk was full of good common sense. The address was so appreciated, a number of men agreed on the spot to put up a guarantee of $50 to have her return and give another lecture next Sunday. Among those who made this offer were some of Roswell‘s best citizens. Her address next Sunday will probably be to both men and women.

“Last night, Mrs. Nation left for Dexter, going by carriage that she may see the beauties of the Pecos Valley. Her program in the Pecos Valley is as follows:

“Dexter, Monday afternoon. Hagerman, Monday night. Lake Arthur, Tuesday afternoon. Artesia, Tuesday night. Carlsbad, Wednesday afternoon and night. Pecos, Thursday afternoon. Big Springs, Thursday night. Colorado City, Friday. Carlsbad, Saturday night. Roswell, Sunday.”

So it seems Carrie Nation caused a little more havoc when she visited Lake Arthur. Following is an excerpt of an interview of a couple of old timers. This comes from the Artesia Daily Press, Bicentennial Edition — July 4, 1976:

“Mrs. Evans said her mother awoke all the children extra early one morning and they were all dressed in their Sunday best to go into the Lake Arthur community. Once there, her mother joined Carrie Nation and several other women and they went in to one of the taverns and rolled barrels of whiskey into the street and then chopped up the barrels with hatchets.

“Carrie Nation then gave each woman a stick pen of a hatchet with an ivory colored handle and a 3-inch gold blade. The women fastened them on their dresses. Evans said he and the other boys were given a small copper colored hatchet stick pen or tie pin. Mrs. Evans said her mother was asked by Carrie Nation to participate in the movement.”

Janice Dunnahoo is chief archivist at the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico Archives. She can be reached at 575-622-1176 or at jdunna@hotmail.com.