Submitted by William A. Greene  2006 

           The following is a brief history of the organization of the Allegany County Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, prepared by Jennie M. Baker of Angelica, and was printed in the Andover News in 1924. The headlines stated that it was organized in Andover in 1880 and its objective was to lend its influence against intemperance because of the fact that women were the greatest sufferers from this evil.

          The first names subscribed to the articles of the constitution were received at Andover, January 28th, 1880 and numbered nineteen ladies, among whom we find names, which afterwards became conspicuous in the work of the Union.  We will mention only three representative women, viz: Mrs. N. V. Hull, Mrs. H. M. Barker, and Mrs. V. A. Williard, names, which to many of us are household words.

          At Friendship, July 20th, of the same year, 29 more members were added.

          At Cuba, the following February ten regular and two honorary members were received.  These first honoraries were, D. B. Gill and Rev. V. A. Sage, both of Cuba.

          November 15th 1881 at Andover, six regular and three honorary members were received.  I noted that while regular member paid 50 cents as membership, the honoraries paid $1.00.

          At the first County Convention, the minutes of which are recorded, which was the meeting held in Andover in January 1880, an informal meeting was called with Mrs. H..M. Barker of Friendship in the chair and Mrs. V. A. Williard of Belmont acted as secretary.  Prayer by Mrs. N. V. Hull and Mrs. Barker opened the exercises.  Brief remarks were made by Mrs. Hull, Mrs. D. G. Bradley, Mrs. Dr. W. W. Crandall and Mrs. V. A. Williard.  The constitution was then presented.  This constitution was prepared by Mrs. B.C. Rude of Wellsville and was adopted with one amendment, which provided that the payment of the fifty-cent fee should not be a requisite to membership.

            An Executive Committee was then appointed.  At the close of this meeting there was $6.54 in the hands of the treasurer.  In this financial report mention is made of a convention having been held in Friendship in July of 1879, but as no officers were elected nor minutes preserved, it must have been merely preliminary.

          At the next convention, which was held in Friendship, we notice that the fifty-cent fee was again made a requisite for membership. At this meeting Mrs. B. C. Rude was elected president with Mrs. Barker as vice president.  Two more people were added to the executive committee.  In the evening Mrs. Rude addressed the citizens and especially the fathers who were present.  This address is described as probably the most able address of the kind ever delivered in the county.

          Prohibition law enforcement and the election of officers sympathetic with the temperance cause were the keynotes of this meeting.  It was also earnestly recommended that young men form themselves into Anti-Treat Societies and that young ladies be earnestly invited to co-operate in this work in the cause of temperance.

          Already the organization had begun to prosper, for within the year there was more the $20 in the treasury.

          New names began to appear on the various committees as the membership and work enlarged.

          Advocacy of countywide prohibition was approved.  Unfermented wines for sacramental purposes were recommended, and that cider be included in all total abstinence pledges, and fathers and husbands and brothers were entreated to abandon the use of tobacco.  Even in those early days of the organization prenatal influences were a subject of serious convictions.

          At the Andover convention in 1881, Mrs. E. J. Potter of Alfred Center was elected president with Mrs. W. Wisler of Cuba vice-president.  It was at this convention that the name of Miss Emma Ross first appears, (and never disappears) in connection with Mrs. Rude as committee for juvenile work; for our society was enlarging; its score and committees for various things were appointed.

          We notice that in 1882 a petition was arranged and sent to Judge Green urging him to press indictments for the object of the suppression of the sale of intoxicating liquor.  Also petitions in regard to prohibition were sent to the Senate and the Assembly.  The support of  “Women’s Rights,” and the feasibility of uniting this question with the temperance issues were discussed.

          It was in Wellsville in 1882 that Mrs. V. A. Williard was first elected president and Miss Emma Ross was elected Corresponding secretary and treasurer and it was here that it was voted that this county organization become an auxiliary to the State Union.

          There were then ten local unions with an aggregate of 275 members.

          At a convention held in Richburg in 1882, Juvenile schools began to be reported.

          At this convention a paper on “Temperance Work in Allegany County”, presented by Mrs. Barker, gave some facts, which we cannot refrain from including in this brief history. As follows: Temperance work was inaugurated in this county in 1829, in a society of 48 male members; Deacon Everett was the first man in the county to sign the pledge.  About this time there were four distilleries in the county.

          Miss Ross was showered with honors at the convention at Andover in 1887.  Not only was she one of the committee on Courtesies, but also she responded to the address of welcome.  Nor was this all, she was elected vice president and also elected National Delegate to go to Nashville, Tenn.  She was also the superintendent of Young Women’s work, besides serving on the program committee.  For some years she was both vice president and corresponding secretary.

          There is a little more to this article but it only mentions people that were elected to offices.  We know that this group was fighting to abolish alcohol and tobacco and at this articles writing they were in their biggest fight as prohibition was in full swing, as prohibition started on January 15th 1920 and ended April 6th, 1933.  They didn’t win this battle but they slowed it down for a few years.  We still feel the effects of alcohol to this very day in our jobs, homes and everywhere.

          We still have a problem with the effects of tobacco.  As far back as 1903 there are stories in the papers telling you that tobacco isn’t good for you.  In the 1960 they even came out and put a warning on each pack that tobacco is hazardous to your health.  Each year we have millions die from its effects and each year more teenagers start the habit.

          I don’t know if the Women’s Christian Temperance Union is still around or has closed its doors like many other fine organizations.