By Thomas Palmer

With the Big Four Depot in the news this past week, it seems a good time to note that just a few months after the structure was opened for business, it had a famous visitor. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it had an “infamous” visitor.

Carrie Nation was her name, and temperance was her game. She was a radical member of the movement, which opposed alcohol before the advent of Prohibition.

Carrie A. Nation, born on November 25, 1846, in Kentucky, was an American temperance advocate known for her aggressive actions against alcohol-serving establishments. She became involved in the temperance movement in 1890, following a U.S. Supreme Court decision that weakened the prohibition laws of Kansas.

Nation gained national notoriety for her unconventional methods, which included using a hatchet to demolish barrooms. She was often dressed in stark black-and-white clothing and would march into saloons, sing, pray, and smash bar fixtures and stock with her hatchet. Despite facing physical assaults and multiple jailings, she continued her crusade against alcohol throughout her life.

One of her many nicknames was “Hatchet Granny.”

Nation’s efforts contributed to the passing of the Eighteenth Amendment, which established national prohibition. She was also an advocate of women’s suffrage and engaged in various humanitarian works, such as founding a sewing circle and establishing a shelter for wives and children of alcoholics.

In August 1901, her travels apparently took her to north central Ohio. According to the Crestline News-Democrat, in Galion she stopped at the Depot long enough for an interview with the editor of the Inquirer, W.V. Goshorn. It so happens that Goshorn and Nation were “old friends,” according to the story, and the paper openly speculated that with Carrie’s possible divorce, the single Galion business leader might have had courtship on his mind. His hopes were dashed, however, when she denied the rumors.

A Galion historian recently told me that WV was actually 30 years younger that Carrie, so there could well be some good-natured ribbing going on between newspapers with that story. Still, the News-Democrat writer also quoted an article which, it said, Goshorn shared in the Inquirer after the interview. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to confirm this tidbit as 1901 is one of the years missing from all online archives of the Inquirer.

There is no indication that she brought her hatchet with her to Galion on that occasion.

There are indicators of another local connection. Carrie did leave her husband David, and according to an account in a 1931 edition of the Inquirer, he then moved, with his children, to Iberia. Years later, GHS teacher Miriam Sayre recalled hearing of Carrie’s several visits to Iberia. The story also states that Carrie filled the pavilion at Seccaium Park for a speaking engagement where she sold miniature hatchets.

Each Saturday, we post about local history. We call this series “Galion History Corner,” and we will be sharing not only stories about our shared heritage but also updates on history news here in southeast Crawford County.

This series is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Bernard M. Mansfield, whose “Your Historical Galion” was a fixture in weekend editions of the Galion Inquirer. Dr. Mansfield was a friend and family physician, and he inspired the current generation of Galion historians to continue his work.