Albion Interactive History / Organizations / Women’s Christian Temperance Union

Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / Organizations

Women’s Christian Temperance Union, 105 E. Erie St., 1905
    Destroyed by Fire, Demolished, December 1944


Woman’s Christian Temperance Union
By Helen Ostrom Eldridge

The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union is a national organization of women, organized in 1874, Frances E. Willard became its first secretary, and in 1879 became its president. In the United States, the national organization embraces 10,000 local unions in the various states, with probably a half million members. Frances E. Willard took a leading part in the organization of the world’s Christian Temperance Union in 1883, and in 18888 became its President. She was born in 1839 and died in 1898. There are auxiliaries in over fifty countries of this world organization.

The Albion Women’s Christian Temperance Union was organized April 28, 1877, with 78 members, and in less than a year there were 285 members. For two years their meetings were held in the old Opera House, after that in the Y.M.C.A. Hall and private homes, until the W.C.T.U. Hall was built.

The cornerstone of our building was laid August 14, 1905, and the building dedicated, April 22, 1906, being the first W.C.T.U. building built in Michigan. The summer of 1930 the building was quite extensively repaired, and named “Dickie Hall” in honor of Dr. and Mrs. Samuel Dickie, who had given so much of their time and energy all these years for the temperance cause and to the maintenance of our building, the former being president and treasurer of the board of trustees, as long as he lived, and Mrs. Dickie was our beloved president more than 20 years, until her health failed, and in 1922, she was made “President Emeritus”, and while she could not take an active part in the work in the last years of her life, she always attending the meetings.

Mrs. Mary Brockway Dickie was the daughter of Mr. And Mrs. W.H. Brockway, who were among the early pioneers, and came to Albion in 1848. The picture accompanying this article is that of our beloved Mrs. Dickie. A brief account of her illustrious father and distinguished husband appear elsewhere in this book, also Dr. Dickie’s picture.

Large portraits of Dr. and Mrs. Dickie, the gifts of their eldest daughter, Mrs. Clarissa Dickie Stewart Gillette, now hang on the wall of Dickie Hall, and meet the eye immediately upon entering the large auditorium, permanent testimonials of the interest and the influence of two great benefactors of the temperance cause.

The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union stands for:
“No sectarianism in religion,
No sectionalism in politics,
No sex in citizenship.”

Its motto is “For God and Home and Native Land.” The badge is a knot of white ribbon. The watchwords are: “Agitate, Educate, Organize.” The pledge is: “I hereby solemnly promise, God helping me, to abstain from all distilled, fermented and malt liquors, including beer and cider as a beverage, and to employ all proper measures to secure the enforcement of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution.”

Being a Christian organization all meetings are opened with Scripture readings, followed by prayer and often the whole meeting is a prayer service. The days of meeting at present are the first and third Tuesday afternoons of the month at two-thirty o’clock, and a cordial invitation is given to everyone to attend.

The W.C.T.U. was the first organization in Albion to open a public rest room, to sponsor the work of a city nurse, to think of furnishing milk for the undernourished school children. Our faithful and loyal caretaker, Miss Julia Doyle, was the one who first thought to open our doors and provide our students from the country a place to eat their noon day lunch. This was before the Washington Gardner School Building was built. We furnished a room in the Sheldon Memorial Hospital, and have given loan scholarships to help worthy college students.

During the World War, several sewing machines were placed in the auditorium, and garments made for hospitals under the direction of the “Red Cross.” Here kits were packed to send at Christmas time to our boys across the seas, we also furnished kitchen and dining room for mess hall for students in training on Albion College campus. We sent boxes of clothes and books to Baxter Seminary, Baxter, Tenn., gave baskets of food and clothes to the needy at Thanksgiving and Christmas time, co-operated with the Albion Federation of Women’s Clubs, and provided a room in the basement for a number of years, where those in need were provided with second hand clothing.

For years we served the annual college banquet, also entertained the boys of Starr Commonwealth and the Boy Scouts.

September, 1922, we gave the use of our building for the $2,000,000 drive launched for the Methodist Educational Advance. In the autumn of 1931, we co-operated with the Albion Federation of Women’s Clubs, and the W.C.T.U. kitchen was used for canning more than 1000 quarts of fruit to be distributed to the needy during the following winter.

At the spring election, April, 1909, local option for Calhoun County carried. The Saturday afternoon before election a parade was formed of W.C.T.U. ladies and school children, carrying banners and singing temperance songs. They marched down Superior Street and also visited the factories giving out literature. The parade reached from the southern M.C.R.R. tracks to Ash Street. The W.C.T.U., with its intensive temperance campaign of several week duration, was given credit for being a great help in making Albion “dry”.

It is impossible to tell all of the achievements of the W.C.T.U. in Albion and vicinity in the past, and what have been spoken of are only a very few of its numerous activities. The W.C.T.U. has and is always willing to co-operate in any worthwhile civic, educational and philanthropic projects which aid in the betterment of our community.

The list of our presidents is as follows: Mrs. W.H. Brockway, (April, 1877 to July, 1878); Mrs. Mary B. Dickie, (July, 1878 to July, 1879), (Jan., 1889 to July, 1890), (June, 1908 to June, 1922), (June, 1923 to April, 1924); Mrs. F.D. Baldwin, (July, 1879 to Jan., 1880); Mrs. O.C. Gale, (Jan., 1880 to July, 1880); Mrs. C.A. Daskam, (July, 1880 to Jan., 1881)
Mrs. Hyram Gray (Jan 1881 to July 1881)
Mrs. N. Plough (July 1881 to Jan 1882)
Mrs. L. Masters (Jan 1882 to July 1882)
Mrs. Ida Fall (July 1882 to Jan 1883)
Mrs. F.M. Taylor (Jan 1883 to July 1883)
Mrs. Helen Thomas (July 1883 to July 1886)
Mrs. Knappen (July 1886 to July 1887)
Mrs. Helen Thomas (July 1887 to Jan 1889)

The records from 1890 to 1908 are missing but from old programs, the writer learned that Mrs. Luella Cummings was president in 1905, when the cornerstone of the W.C.T.U. building was laid; also in 1906 when the building was dedicated).

Mrs. Monk (Jan 1908 to June 1908)
Mrs. Emma Pearce (June 1922 to June 1923)
Mrs. Myrtle Brown (April 1924 to June 1926)
Mrs. Isabella McCulloch (June 1926 to Oct. 1927)
Mrs. Asenath Hickey (Oct 1927 to June 1932)

Note: This carefully written history was prepared especially for this book by our beloved club member, Mrs. Helen O. Eldridge, and given to us shortly before her death).

Source: Krenerick, Miriam. Albion’s Milestones and Memories. Albion, MI: Art Craft Press. 1932. 125-127

The W.C.T.U. was the first organization in Albion to open apublic rest room, to sponsor the work of a city nurse, to think of furnishingmil for the undernourished school children. During the World War, sewingmachines were placed in the auditorium and garments were made for hospitalsunder the direction of the Red Cross. For years the hall was also used for theannual college banquet, and to entertain then boys of Starr Commonwealth and theBoy Scouts.

At the April 1909 spring election, prohibition in Calhoun Countycarried. the Saturday afternoon before a parade was formed of W.C.T.U. ladiesand school children, carrying banners and singing temperance songs. They marcheddown Superior Street and visited the factories giving out literature.

Later the prohibition was reversed and the WCTU hall became less active. In 1941the hall was leased to the recreation department as a community center, andafter serving the community for many years, burned and was demolished December1944. A small parking lot occupies the site today. 

Source: Frank Passic. A Pictorial History of Albion, Michigan; From the Archives of the Albion Historical Society. Dallas, Texas: Curtis Media Corporation. 1991.