“[WCTU presentation]”

transcribed by G. Douglas Clarke and Carol M. Clarke

When quite young, at one time when my father was traveling with his family on our way to one of the New England States, we called  to stay over night at an Inn, as it was then called in Howard Steu[ben] Co.

As we entered, we noticed a man streched [sic] out upon a long bench, seemingly fast asleep.  After our wraps were lain by and horses cared for, and were preparing for supper, we heard the cry of a woman in great distress begging Tom, as she called him, to get up and go home with her and their little girl who was then asking Ma for something to eat.  After finding she could not rouse her husband from his stupor, she turned to the landlord and said, "Did I not ask you to give my husband no more drink?"  His answer was, "He would have had it at some other place if I had not let him have it".

After sobbing aloud for some time over her drunken husband and desparing [sic] to get him home in his helpless condition she took her child by the hand and said "we must go home but, my darling, we can have no supper".  The landlord, with a sneer, told her he was not to blame for it, and he wished she would not make such a row, but would go home and not come around there any more.

My father, after making some inquiries gave her some money as she was leaving, then called for his horses and carriages, and we left.

 After our visit was made east, and on our return, we made inquiries in regard to this drunkard and his family, and learned he had filled a drunkard's grave and his wife was nearly gone with consumption, caused from privation and exposure.

Later on, in the first years of my married life, I was living in the Village of Nile, town of Friendship.  A man formerly from Auburn NY with his wife and two lovely daughters, rented the Hotel across the way from us.

It was voiced around at once, "what a congenial, gentlemanly landlord we had" and wishing to encourage the keeping of such a house as we anticipated he was directing, we young married people (six couples) called on them for an oyster supper.  After being seated around the table, we found our good landlord incompetent to help his noble wife wait upon the guests.  After he had broken 2 or 3 dishes, and fallen over a chair, Mrs. Rood as that was her name, came to me and said, "O! Mrs. Babcock, what shall I do?  Allen is drunk.  Mr. Babcock and others took the hint and coaxed him off to bed and we remained to try and cheer his poor heartbroken wife until quite late, then retired to our own homes.

Mr. Rood had been a temperance lecturer, was a gentleman, and a scholar.  The one fault, of drinking intoxicants ruined him and kept his family in bondage and oppression.  He was an adept in repeating scripture especially the portion which says "wifes [sic] obey your husbands in all things" which he often used as a means to obtain money from his wife's hard earnings.  His appetite was ungovernable.  His mother, a wealthy widow and he her only child, settled a dowry upon his wife and daughters, as otherwise it would have been squandered.  The last I knew of him, he was still a slave to his appetite.

These two circumstances, with many others impressed me that there was word for the willing hands to do, and no time to lose in doing it, so 3 of us ladies resolved to talk with their men, as Mr. Rood was not the only one, and try to influence them to leave off the habit which seemed to be near ruining both soul and body.

Some called us missionaries.  Well, notwithstanding, we labored on as best we could.  We often had the promise from Mr. Rood, and others, "as the habit was regretted by them most deeply" that they would leave off the habit entirely.  They could keep their promise but for a day, tempted as they were in their every-day surroundings.

I finally became convinced that the evil could be dispensed with only by prohibiting the sale of intoxicants.  The W.C.T.U. as a whole believe Prohibition to be the only true basis to work on.  I am one among the W.C.T.U. for this work, hoping that, as a body more light, and more practical work can be accomplished thereby than to work alone.  I believe as a body we should be vigilant in searching out the evils which degenerate