Turners get scolding from Carry Nation

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt Ellie Carlson playing Carrie Nation brandished a hatchet as she spoke about the Temperance movement to the Turner Hall members.

NEW ULM — Turner Hall members were severely admonished for their alcohol consumption Friday night during the Turnverein’s annual Stiftungsfest (Founders’ Day).

The infamous Temperance extremist Carry Nation, played by reenactor Ellie Carlson, led a rally against the evils of intoxicating liquors. After a fiery speech against the demon run, the rally moved from the dining hall into the Rathskeller itself.

Vice-President of Turner Hall Dan Hoisington said they invited Carlson to perform a reenactment of Nation because in July of 1909 Nation did visit New Ulm with attempt to reform the community. The attempt to reform did not take, but they wanted to pay tribute to next year’s 100 anniversary of Prohibition.

Carlson, dressed in all black and holding a hatchet, gave a speech as Nation.

Nation’s first husband died of alcoholism less than two years into their marriage and she soon joined the Temperance movement. Nation soon came to the belief Temperance wasn’t enough. One day, she went into a Kansas saloon, where alcohol was prohibited, and began smashing bottles with a hatchet and rocks. She repeated this process in many communities and was arrested over 30 times.

Nation also rallied for the eradication of patent medicines, which at the time contained alcohol in large quantities.

Nation was also a role model to American women in a time before they were allowed to vote.

During a sing-along of “The Whiskey Shops Must Go,” during the chorus when all free men were called to rally for temperance, Carlson, as Nation, shouted “and women!” to let them know it was their cause too.

Carlson’s performance ended with a march to the Rathskeller where she even smashed a bottle. After the performance Carlson answered question from those curious about Nation’s life and times.

Carlson said she began playing the part of Carry Nation after first being asked to reenact the part of Mamie Eisenhower. She began researching Mrs. Eisenhower, who was from Kansas. Carlson wanted to research another part and found Nation.

Carlson has a standing performance to play Nation on March 16, the day before St. Patrick’s Day in Joliet, Illinois at the Tin Roof Saloon. Nation’s extreme rhetoric ironically a great way to bring people into a bar.

To see videos of Carlson’s performance, visit her website at http://elliepresents.com/interpretations/carry-nation/.

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