Temperance Activities in Lancaster

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Temperance Activities in Lancaster, New York
by Michael Nuwer

The temperance movement in the United States was an outgrowth of what historians call the Second Great Awakening, which was a Protestant religious revival throughout the United States that took place during the early nineteenth century. The Second Great Awakening spread religion with revivals and emotional preaching. Revivals were a key part of the movement and attracted hundreds of converts to Protestant denominations, both new and old.1

The Second Great Awakening encouraged various reform movements. The theology that dominated American Protestantism in the first half of the nineteenth century was “post-millennialism.” This entailed the belief that Christ would be returning to earth in the near future and therefore Christians had a duty to purify society in preparation for that event.

Temperance was an effort to create such a pure society. Methodist and Presbyterian churches organized local temperance societies and taught that buying, selling, and drinking liquor were evils to be avoided. These churches claimed that the liquor traffic was a great harm to society through its contribution to gambling, prostitution, murder, crime, and political corruption. The American temperance movement thus emphasized the moral effects of overindulgence.

Evangelical Protestants created the American Temperance Society, a national temperance organization, in 1826 in Boston, Massachusetts (it was renamed the American Temperance Union in 1836) and advocated for the total abstinence of alcohol. In 1831 Presbyterian minister Charles Grandison Finney held a successful religious revival in Rochester, New York where her preached abstinence from “ardent spirits.” At this revival, Finney required that individuals sign an abstinence pledge in order to receive salvation.

The use of the revival meeting and the abstinence pledge became standard practices for the temperance movement throughout the nineteenth century. Revival meetings were highly effective forms of evangelizing. Such a meeting consists of several consecutive nights of services conducted at the same time and location. This meeting might take place in the building belonging to the sponsoring congregation, at a rented assembly hall, or in an open field (sometimes under a tent). Usually, the meeting was a week or more in duration.

Temperance advocates tended to divide into two groups. Those dedicated to promoting moderation of alcohol consumption and those pushing for complete abstinence, with the latter group being the dominate point of view among evangelical Protestants. By the 1830s, organized temperance advocates were calling for total abstinence from all liquor, including wine, beer, and cider. The abstinence pledge used by these advocates became both a tactic and a public symbol of this stern requirement.

Much of the temperance movement was rooted in organized Protestant religion and women were specifically drawn to the cause. Temperance represented a fight to end a practice that greatly affected the women’s sphere within the household. Nineteenth century society had assigned women, especially middle-class women, the role of presiding over the spiritual and physical needs of their homes and families. Women, therefore, believed it was their duty to protect their families from the danger of alcohol and convert their family members to the ideas of abstinence.

By the mid-1850s, the prayer meeting was added to the methods used to advocate temperance. Prayer meetings were devotional gatherings run by laypeople rather than clergy and consisted of prayer and testimony by attendees. The meetings were held frequently, and pledges of abstinence were confessed. Public testimony was used to convert others and convince them to sign the pledge. Prayer meetings along with revivals and pledges characterized the post-Civil war temperance movement.

Lancaster, New York did not have a local newspaper before 1878, thus, temperance activities in the town before that time are difficult to determine. Comments printed in the paper during its first few years of publication might offer some insight about those earlier activities. For example, the newspaper stated that Lancaster was “noted for its apathy on this important question.”2 A Buffalo newspaper described Lancaster as a “Democratic stronghold,”3 which was characterized as the party of “rum, Romanism, and rebellion.”4 And it was said in the Lancaster newspaper that, in 1878, “the town [had] in full running order thirty saloons,” which was one saloon for every 44 adult men in the town.5 A possibly useful description of Lancaster was made in February 1879 when the newspaper explained that

The temperance question is, perhaps, the most difficult to deal with of all the social problems. Everything alcoholic, under the generic name of “Rum,” appeal, in a greater or less degree, to the cravings of an overwhelming majority of our population; but a respectable minority are its bitter enemies.6

Historians know that, in general, German-speaking immigrants opposed temperance, especially when the temperance movement took on the views of total abstinence from all alcohol including wine, beer, and cider. Since German-speaking immigrants made up a large proportion of the Lancaster population, it is reasonable to suppose that alcohol appealed to “an overwhelming majority” of the town’s residents. Moreover, the evidence found in newspapers after 1878 supports the claim that a “respectable minority” were alcohol’s “bitter enemies.”

Some of the earliest temperance activities recorded in Lancaster’s newspaper took place at the Methodist Episcopal (ME) church. In January 1879, Rev. W.H. Wagner, a Methodist pastor from Rochester, delivered a temperance lecture at Lancaster’s ME church. Rev. Wagner was a popular lecturer in Western New York, discussing issues such as the “Mission of Women and the Great Temperance Reform” and “The Moral Bearings of the Temperance Cause.” Lancaster’s Presbyterian pastor, Rev. William Waith, also participated in the temperance meeting at the ME church.7

Lancaster’s Methodist Episcopal church may have sponsored the first temperance society organized in the town. The newspaper announced in November 1880 that “A new temperance society has been organized under the auspices of the M.E. church. We understand that the membership is quite large and rapidly increasing.” No name was given for the new group. The newspaper then voiced its approval for this organization. “This is a work which Lancaster ought to encourage above all others, and we in connection with many of our townsmen, wish the society God-speed, and hope for its continued prosperity.”8

A month later, the Presbyterian church of Lancaster sponsored a series of temperance meetings that featured Mrs. Susan Pinkham of Fon-du-Lac, Wisconsin. Susan Pinkham had moved from Lancaster to Wisconsin and, in the early 1870s, “came out with the ‘Crusaders,’ in open temperance work, and ever since had been engaged in the cause.” In 1880 she attended the annual meeting of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in Boston, and stopped in Lancaster “for some weeks” to “visit her aged parents.” While visiting in Lancaster, she “gave the benefit of her earnest enthusiasm” to the people of her former town. The final meeting of this “temperance revival” was described as follows:

On Tuesday evening of last-week, there was another Temperance meeting in the Presbyterian church, John Romer, Esq., President of the “Young People’s Christian Union,” of the Methodist church, presiding as chairman. The meeting opened with singing of “Old Coronation,” followed by Mrs. Pinkham with one of her interesting “Temperance Talks.” Rev. Mr. Waith and Mr. E.F. French followed with brief remarks.9

The newspaper claimed that Mrs. Pinkham “stirred up so much interest in the temperance cause” during her visit at Lancaster.

It is most desirable that the labor in the churches here, may not have been in vain, and that the “Temperance Revival,” enjoyed under her influence, may become deeply earnest in this work, and our town no longer be noted for its apathy on this important question.10

Temperance activities in Lancaster gained a significant boost in late 1883 when a local chapter of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was formed. The WCTU was a national organization created in 1874 at a convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Its mission was to create a “sober and pure world” and called for “the entire prohibition of the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors as a beverage.”11 The Union was led by Frances Willard from 1879 until her death in 1898 and it became one of the most prominent female-backed political movements in the country.12

Willard and her associates gave speeches, wrote articles, published books and newspaper columns on the evils of alcohol, organized petition campaigns, and lobbied officeholders. The WCTU convened huge rallies with none of the masculine rowdiness typically displayed at political party conventions. The organization built itself on the idea of women as protectors of the home.13

The WCTU used a decentralized structure which allowed chapters to tailor their activities to local needs. At the end of December 1883, a chapter of the WCTU was established at Lancaster.

To the Ladies of Lancaster: With evidence every day, and almost every hour, of the strong hold of liquors upon our village, and knowing that the rapid course of intemperance will surely ruin Lancaster’s better prospects and feeling that something ought to be done to abate the evil, will you band yourselves together to help promote and sustain the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union organized Dec. 23rd, 1883. … A public meeting will be held at the M.E. church Tuesday Jan. 22nd, at 3 P.M. Let every lady in Lancaster interested to rescue her village from its present peril be in attendance. God and the right with us, we must succeed.14

As was common among the many organizations of the temperance movement, the Lancaster WCTU relied on lectures, prayer meetings, and revival meetings to spread their message. During the first few months after the local chapter was established, the Lancaster WCTU organized a series of pray meeting to be held every Sunday afternoon during the months of July and August. It was announced in the newspaper that,

Arrangements have been made to hold out-door temperance meetings on Mook’s Island, on Sunday afternoons during July and August. Fine speaking and music will make the meetings attractive and instructive. This will offset the usual drunkenness that so much abounds that day.15

The Lancaster Union also sponsored lectures. One of their first activities was a lecture in May 1884, which focused on the sale of liquor on Sundays. An 1866 New York State Excise law had prohibited the sale of liquor after midnight and on Sundays, however, it appears the village of Lancaster failed to enforce the law. An 1878 letter printed in the Lancaster Star used the following rhetoric and sarcasm.

When do saloonist take in the most money? Early in the morning? No, but late at night and on Sunday, that is the day to enjoy ones self. But, is it allowed? Allowed! the law seems to prescribe it in the highest degree if you cast your eye on certain corners and the front steps of certain saloons in our town. Stillness and solitude reign everywhere, except where the drunkards rend the air with their curses, on Sabath afternoons. … The law [prohibiting the sale of liquor on Sunday] … must be enforced.16

The WCTU’s May 1884 lecture addressed this issue. “At the invitation of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, Rev. Dr. Van Bokkelen and the Rev. Father Cronin of Buffalo, lectured before a large audience at Schoolhouse Hall last Friday evening.” The Rev. Van Bokkelen “spoke for about an hour …, followed by the Rev. Father Cronin.” The Rev. Mr. Waith who was the pastor at Lancaster’s Presbyterian Church and the Rev. Mr. Stoecker who was pastor at Lancaster’s German Methodist Church “were called upon and addressed the audience in a few well-chosen remarks.”17

Others seated on the stage that evening were Rev. Copeland of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. Fr. Sester of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and three lay residents of Lancaster, Mr. J.L. Romer, Mr. N.B. Gatchell, and Mr. E.F. French. Most of the clergy and the three lay residents were active in Lancaster’s temperance movement and more will be said about them below. Here we will point out that, although Father Sester was not active in the temperance movement, he was a supporter of the Sunday law, to the disappointment of many of his parishioners at St. Mary’s Church.18 Father Sester supported the Sunday closure law without supporting the total absence of alcohol consumption.

At the conclusion of this Friday evening lecture, the newspaper reported that, “a vote of thanks was tendered to the principal speakers, and a committee was appointed to … represent the views of those who desire a better observance of the laws.”

The WTCU was able to claim some success with the issue of enforcing the ban of liquor sales on Sundays. Immediately following the lecture, John Demangeot and Joseph Nuwer, the proprietors of the Demangeot & Nuwer Brewery and members of St. Mary’s Church, announced that their “celebrated lager beer … will not be sold hereafter on Sundays, at the brewery, or on the premises.”19

The names appearing as participants and leaders of the temperance activities in Lancaster help us understand much about the movement. Lancaster’s temperance activists were very much a mirror image of temperance activists at the national level.

First the Protestant ministers of Lancaster’s churches, especially the Methodist and Presbyterian churches, were actively involved. At the May 1884 meeting described above, Rev. J. Copeland, Rev. Wm. Waith, Rev. C. Stocker, were among those seated on the stage. Rev. John A. Copeland was the minister at Lancaster’s Methodist Episcopal church, Rev. William Waith was the minister at Lancaster’s Presbyterian church, and Rev. Charles Stoecker was the minister at Lancaster’s German Methodist Episcopal church. At the national level, the Methodist and Presbyterian churches were similarly the most actively involved with the temperance cause.

The names of the three laypersons on the stage were Mr. J.L. Romer, Mr. N.B. Gatchell, Mr. E.F. French. Nathan B. Gatchell, was a partner in the Lancaster Glassworks, a former town supervisor, a member of the Lancaster’s Literary Society and a member of the Presbyterian church. A temperance advocate, Gatchell spoke of “the evils of intemperance in its various forms as it invades society.” He maintained the “excessive use and indulgence of stimulating drinks” could be controlled only “by an entire prohibition of the traffic.”20

Edward F French was also a member of Lancaster’s Presbyterian church. The 1870 federal census identified him as a “Produce Merchant” in Lancaster and he was the superintendent of the Presbyterian Sunday school. John Romer was a member of the ME church and president of that church’s “Young People’s Christian Union.” The members of Lancaster’s evangelical Protestant churches were the principle participants in the town’s temperance movement.

The second important feature of the temperance movement was the central role occupied by women. Turning to the leaders of Lancaster’s WCTU, the president was Abigail (Abby) French, who was the wife of Edward F French. She was 52 years old when the Lancaster chapter of WCTU was created. Like her husband, she was an active member of the Presbyterian Church of Lancaster. In addition to her leadership of the Temperance Union, Abby French was involved with the Ladles’ Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church.21 Edward and Abby French had two daughters, one of whom, Hattie, was 25 years old in 1885 and was also found working with the Temperance Union.

The Lancaster WCTU had five vice presidents. These women were the wives of the Protestant ministers of Lancaster’s churches. Mrs. Waith was the wife of Rev. William Waith, the pastor at the Presbyterian Church; Mrs. Copeland was the wife of Rev. John A. Copeland, the pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church; Mrs. Stoecker was the wife of Rev. Charles Stoecker, the pastor of the German Methodist Episcopal Church.

Trinity Episcopal Church was the newest church in Lancaster. Rev. H.S. Huntington was the pastor in 1883 and his wife was one of the five WCTU vice-presidents. The fifth vice president was the wife of Rev. C.L. Knapp, pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Other than her name appearing as one of five vice presidents, there is no reference to her involvement or the involvement of other members of Lancaster’s Lutheran church in Lancaster’s temperance activities.

The corresponding secretary of the WCTU was Miss Emily L Clapp. She was born in Lancaster and was 33 years old when chapter was created.22 Her father, George Clapp was born in Royalton, Vermont and moved to Lancaster in 1834. He and his family were members of the Presbyterian Church of Lancaster.23

The recording secretary of the WCTU was Emeline Draper.24 She was born in Lancaster and was 24 years old when the Lancaster chapter was formed. During the 1880s, Emeline Draper lived with her brother, Silas T Draper. Both were single and both were active in the temperance movement. Silas operated a grocery store in the village. Silas and Emeline Draper were member of Lancaster’s Methodist Episcopal church and Emeline was also active in the Ladies’ Aid Society of that church.25 Mrs. William Booth was the WCTU’s treasurer. Mr. William Booth was active in Lancaster’s Republican Party. No other information about Mr. and Mrs. Booth was found.

A second temperance organization was formed in Lancaster in the mid-1880s. It was known as The Sons of Temperance. The national organization had been a fraternal brotherhood of men founded in 1842 to promote the temperance cause and provide mutual support for its members. Women were admitted to full membership after 1866. The Lancaster Division was established in the spring of 1885.

The new society just started, of the Sons of Temperance, to be called the “Lancaster Order of the Sons of Temperence,” had their first meeting at the M.E. Church on Friday evening, the 29th [of March 1885] …. There was a full attendance of members and some ladies and gentlemen from Buffalo who came to assist in the business of the meeting. Four new members were initiated. The society has purchased its charter and is about to procure regalia and a committee was appointed to find a suitable room for a hall. They will meet every two weeks on Saturday evening at eight o’clock. All who feel disposed to aid the cause, both young and old, are requested to enroll as members. The next meeting will be held at the M.E. Church on Saturday, the 13th of June.26

The Lancaster division of the Sons of Temperance held regular meetings which included business items and social activities. Members were encouraged to bring friends and relative for the social aspects of the meetings. However, no newspaper announcements were found for prayer meetings or revivals sponsored by the Lancaster division of the Sons of Temperance. Their relationship to the WCTU is not known.

Lancaster’s WCTU was the town’s politically active temperance organization and was especially busy during 1885. The chapter sponsored lectures, a great revival, and hosted the annual convention for all the WCTU chapters in Erie County. Beginning in the spring of this busy year the newspaper announced two lectures.

Mrs. E.M.J. Decker, of Fairport, N.Y., State lecturer for the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, will lecture for the Lancaster Union next Sunday evening, at the Methodist Church. A large gathering should greet this eloquent lady. It is expected that Edward Carserell the great temperance lecturer of Canada, will speak in the same place April 12th. This will be a rare treat to the people of Lancaster.27

The WCTU also announced that Mr. P.A. Burdick, “the temperance evangelist,” would visit Lancaster and conduct a revival. The newspaper printed a series of items throughout the spring promoting Mr. Burdick’s visit. For example, the following letter addressed to the president of the local WCTU, was printed in the newspaper. The writer was a Presbyterian pastor in Genesee, NY.

It is quite difficult for one who knows Mr. P.A. Burdick, as we have come to know him, to speak words of merely ordinary commendation. We are all much more than pleased with the man and with his methods of work. Mr. Burdick is a man of really extraordinary ability. He sustains himself night after night wonderfully, his spirit is delightful. He wins men.

In this conservative county seat his success has been remarkable. Over one-thousand and fifty names has been signed to the total abstinence pledge. I am sure you may count yourselves very fortunate if you may have him to labor among you. ... Yours very cordially, J.E. Kittredge28

As already noted in this essay, the abstinence pledge had been a practice of temperance advocates long before the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union was formed. It was an effective tool and the WCTU adopted it. The specific pledge used by the WCTU read “I hereby solemnly promise, God helping me, to abstain from all distilled, fermented and malt liquors, including wine, beer and cider, and to employ all proper means to discourage the use of, and traffic in, the same.”

Pledge Card

A few days before Mr. P.A. Burdick’s revival began, the WCTU of Lancaster announced that it had “secured Mook’s Island for Mr. Burdick’s meeting and will fit it up and make it very inviting.”

It is expected that a band of singers from Attica will come with Mr. Burdick at the first day. Mrs. French and the ladies will give these visitors a lawn tea party greeting at her house. Notice by posters and handbills will be duly given the public. The meetings open next week Thursday [June 18, 1885]. Mr. Burdick came from Brockport where he is having great success.29

Keeping with the traditions of a true Christian revivals, the meetings proceeded for ten consecutive evenings, from Thursday, June 18 until Sunday, June 28. After the event had completed, the newspaper told its readers that “the temperance meetings conducted at Mook’s Grove, by Mr. P.A. Burdick have been very successful in many ways and they closed with crowded meetings on Sunday [June 28, 1885].30 It was stated that three hundred and fifty people signed the abstinence pledge during this revival.

A Temperance supporter wrote a letter to the newspaper summarizing the event and the excitement of its participants.

Editor Lancaster Times: The series of Gospel Temperance meetings conducted by Mr. P.A. Burdick closed on Sabbath evening with universal regret. He is certainly one of the most remarkable men that one meets in a life-time, a man of fine presence and pleasing address, and a voice unexcelled either for speaking or leading the singing of such audiences as he addresses. A lawyer by profession, he understands how to bring able and conclusive argument to the help of an inexhaustible fund of information and illustration, so that it is impossible to hear him and not be convinced of the truth of his statements. Besides this, he has had a sad experience of six years, worse than wasted, except as he makes them useful to the uplifting of others. He held his crowded audiences night after night by his utterly fearless and resistless eloquence, and people came every night from surrounding towns—some walking miles—to hear the truth as it has never before been proclaimed in Lancaster.

It is safe to say that no man ever came into this town and made so many warm friends in ten days as Mr. Burdick; His labors here have resulted in a total abstinence band of three hundred and fifty persons, and over one hundred dollars was presented to him in grateful acknowledgement of his services. We can but hope that this is the beginning of a moral revolution here, and that we shall take up this work and carry it forward encouraging and helping those to whom the life is new. Notwithstanding the many predictions of failure, and expressions of sympathy Mr. Burdick received on coming here, we have his assurance that he never had a better time in his life than he had in Lancaster, and his promise to come again after his present engagements expire.31

The Lancaster chapter of the WCTU attempted to maintain the momentum of this revival with more temperance lectures. “The regular Sunday afternoon temperance meeting will be held on Mook’s Island at half past four o’clock. Mr. W.J. Anderson, agent of the Citizens Reform Association of Buffalo, will address the meeting [on July 27, 1885].”32

The women of Lancaster’s WCTU also hosted the county wide annual convention for the organization. Mr. Burdick concluded his revival on June 28 and the convention took place a month later. The event revealed some the tension within the town of Lancaster regarding the topic of temperance.

Members of several WCTU chapters met at the ME Church in Lancaster. The proceedings began at 11 A.M. with a “devotional exercise.” The participants sang “Jesus, lover of my soul,” and were then led in prayer by one of ladies from Marilla. This formally opened the daylong meeting. Abby French, Lancaster’s president, “welcomed the visiting sisters in a happy manner.”

Seven chapters were represented at the convention—Alden, Akron, Buffalo, Clarence, Marilla, Lancaster, and Springville—and each presented a report of their activities. A visitor from Genesee County then addressed the meeting “giving an interesting account of the work in Batavia and vicinity.” The participants then sang “Praise God from whom all blessings flow,” and recessed for a mid-day meal prepared by the “Lancaster ladies.”

The afternoon session resumed at two o’clock with a “prayer service.” This was followed by a discussion on the various lines of work undertaken by the county organization. The convention established committees to take up specific concerns—scientific instruction, evangelistic work, foreign works, unfermented wine, prison and jail work—and individuals were selected to head each committee. The convention closed with a “hopeful and earnest address” by a representative from Buffalo, which was followed by the singing of “Blest be the tie that binds.”33

The convention appears to have generated some controversy within the town’s population, although the newspaper made clear that it was not going to report on that issue. In the week following the convention, the newspaper printed a letter to the editor that addressed the event and criticized other town residents. The letter was printed under the title “Temperance Union.”

Mr. Editor: The event of the convening of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in our village last week deserves a praising remark. An event which Lancaster might greatly be proud of and to those who were participants in the exercises of the day, the evidences were that the Temperance Union was having good success.

Yet the, shall I say, ladies of our village, instead of giving encouragement and a cordial welcome or even common politeness and courtesy to this gathering of the ladies of Erie County stand aside in their indifference and say, “we cannot work with you.”

And again, she who is the leader of the W.C.T.U. in this place and one who has always been the leader in every good and philanthropic work, and in all church work, notwithstanding her feeble health and overwhelming trials of the past year, has never swerved from duty, yet those to whom she should look for help and encouragement, those connected with her in sacred church relations, have simply said, if not in words, in action, “no we cannot give you our influence.”34

The letter was signed “Anonymous.” This letter stirred enough controversy that the editor of the Times issued an apology.

During the past few weeks, owing to the unavoidable absence of the publisher of the Times, caused by illness in his family, he has not given the paper the careful attention which all newspapers need. This inattention has resulted in several articles appearing in the Times, the publication of which we deeply regret. We will simply state that an article entitled “Temperance Union,” in our last issue, is one of the series. Hereafter no such articles, calculated to wound the feelings or cause annoyance to any of our readers, will appear in the Times. Our aim is to please all our readers by publishing a good local paper.35

About a year later, another controversy surfaced in the newspaper. This one regarded the Lancaster Brewing Company. The brewery, which had been a partnership between John Demangeot and Joseph Nuwer, was reorganized in the fall of 1886 and new investors were added. The new investors were Charles Kurtz, John Leininger, Joseph Bauer, John Grau, George Huber and Joseph Nuwer of Lancaster, Christian Jaesel of Elma, Fred Suckow of Brownmansville and Henry D. Keller of Buffalo. John Demangeot retired from the business. Corporate officers were elected in October and the certificate of incorporation for the Lancaster Brewery Company was filed with the Erie County Clerk on December 18.36

In the summer of 1886, before the election of officers, the following letter was distributed to some Lancaster businessmen.

We understand that they intend to secure subscriptions to organize a brewing company in this town; therefore we warn the business people of Lancaster not to take any stock in said organization. Our temperance society is composed of about 500 signers, and they will not patronize you or any business man that will join said brewing company. Hoping you will see thus it would be against the interest of your business to join said company, we remain, By order of committee, W.C.T.U.37

This letter was not written by the WCTU. Mrs. French, the president, and Mrs. McGerald, the vice-president,38 stated in the newspaper that the letter “was written without the authority or knowledge of our society.” Although the letter was not an official statement of the Lancaster chapter, the incident is, nevertheless, historically interesting because it reveals the feelings of many members of the WCTU. Those who were described as a sizable minority of Lancaster’s population and who were “bitter enemies” of alcohol, were willing to engage in a boycott of multiple Lancaster businesses if their business proprietors invested in the Brewery.

The Lancaster residents who invested in the Brewery were all from German-speaking immigrant families. George Huber was born in Lancaster in 1848 to German immigrants. He was a shoemaker and operated his shoe shop on Central Ave. He also operated a contractor’s supply yard on Aurora St. He became president of the Lancaster Brewing Co. and was an active member at St. Mary’s Catholic church.39

Joseph Bauer became the vice president of the Brewery. He moved to Lancaster from Williamsville and founded a marble business in 1878. He was also a member of St. Mary’s Catholic church.40 John Leininger was the treasurer of the Brewery. He was born in German-speaking Europe and immigrated to the New World, arriving in Lancaster in the early 1860s. Like the president and vice president of the Brewery, he was a merchant in the village, operating a mercantile store and lumber yard on Auroa street. He too was an active member of St. Mary’s Catholic church.41 Joseph Nuwer was the new corporation’s treasurer. He was the son of an immigrant from Alsace and had been one of the two Brewery owners before incorporation. He too was an active member of St. Mary’s church.

Thus, the four principal officers of the Brewery were Lancaster businessmen from the German-speaking immigrant community who were also members of the Catholic church. Two additional inverters were German-speaking businessmen of Lancaster and members of the Lutheran church. They were Charles Kurtz,42 who operated a blacksmith business and John Grau,43 who operated a Saloon on Main St.

These were the Lancaster businesses and businessmen that temperance advocates threatened with a boycott. The incident is interesting because it reveals a dividing line within Lancaster between temperance supporters and their opposition. Members of the former group, as we have illustrated in this essay, were evangelical Protestants, members of the Presbyterian, Methodist and Episcopal churches. They were native born of native-born parents. In addition, these women took on a significant public role. The WCTU was a source of camaraderie as well as political activism for evangelical Protestant women in Lancaster.

Lancaster’s opponents of temperance were either German-speaking immigrants or the children of German-speaking immigrants. They were mostly Catholic, supplemented with members of the Lutheran church. And German women were nowhere to be found among the battles over temperance. The historian David A. Gerber observed in his investigation of antebellum ethnic culture in the city of Buffalo, that German women lived “under an unyielding patriarchy, and they had fewer public roles than either American or Irish women.”44 This pattern seems to have been true in Lancaster as well.

Throughout the 1880s and into the 1890s there was no presence of German women in the activities of temperance organizations. The only exception was the wife of the Lutheran minister, and even that exception was limited to one reference. Mrs. Knapp was listed as one of the five vice presidents of the WCTU, but she was not identified as a participant in any of the Union’s activities.

The first evidence of German women in Lancaster taking on a public role was when a chapter of the Ladies’ Catholic Benevolent Association was created in 1901. This organization offered life insurance to its members as well as engaging in social and charitable activities. The Ladies’ Catholic Benevolent Association was operated by women and only women received the insurance benefits. Magdalena Knauber was president of the Lancaster branch for many years. Anna (Wendel) Soemann, Bertha (Oehm) Schwartz, Caroline (Wendel) Balthasar, and many others were involved with the society after 1901.

Politics in the Gilded Age came in two flavors: the male-dominated partisanship of voters, political operatives, and officeholders and the voluntarism of those who put cause above party. The public sphere of campaigns and voting was a man’s world, women could pursue politics only as representatives of voluntary associations dedicated to specific reforms. In the 1880s and 1890s Lancaster’s Protestant women were found leading the temperance movement, discussing female suffrage,45 engaged with charitable societies,46 and organizing a clothing exchange through a chapter of the Society of King's Daughters.47 The presence of Lancaster’s German women was absent from all these activities. Nor were German woman found organizing other voluntary societies dedicated to reforms that reflected their values. Compared to the Protestant women of Lancaster, the German woman had few public roles in the community.

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Great_Awakening







2 Lancaster Star, December 10, 1880.

3 Buffalo Express, October 6, 1884.

4 “Rum, Romanism, and rebellion” was used by Republicans to association Democrats with Catholics, saloon keepers, violence, and vice during the 1884 presidential election.

5 Lancaster Star, August 30, 1878.

6 Lancaster Star, February 4, 1879.

7 “The Rev. Wagner will deliver a temperance lecture at the Methodist Church, on Sunday evening next. He comes well recommended and the lecture will probably be worth attending.” Lancaster Star, January 23, 1879; “Last Sabbath evening there was union Temperance meeting at the Methodist church in our village. A discourse on the subject was delivered by the Rev. W. H. Wagner, the Methodist, and the Presbyterian pastor participating in the service.” Lancaster Star, January 30, 1879.

8 Lancaster Star, November 21, 1880.

9 Lancaster Times, December 10, 1880.

10 Ibid.

11 Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woman%27s_Christian_Temperance_Union

12 Michael McGerr, et al., Of the People, 4th Ed., Oxford University Press, 2020.

13 Ibid.

14 Lancaster Times, January 17, 1884.

15 Lancaster Times, June 10, 1884.

16 Lancaster Star, August 30, 1878.

17 Lancaster Times, May 8, 1884.

18 Many years later, Father Sester was remembered in his 1896 obituary for “his good example, his genial and gentlemanly disposition, his advocacy of Sunday laws, and his love for American institutions made him beloved by his non-Catholic neighbors as much and, sometimes more than by his own parishioners” (emphasis added). Buffalo Courier, July 27, 1896.

19 “The celebrated lager beer manufactured by Demangeot & Nuwer, bottled or in kegs, will not be sold hereafter on Sundays, at the brewery, or on the premises. An order during the week will receive prompt attention. Thanking the public for their past patronage, we hope to receive your future orders. Resp. Demangeot & Nuwer.” Lancaster Times, May 8, 1884.

20 Lancaster Times, April 23, 1891.

21 “The semi-annual meeting of the Ladles’ Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church, of this village, was held at the house of the pastor, Rev. William Waith, on the afternoon of Wednesday, Oct. 7 [1885]. About twenty-five ladies were in attendance; and the meeting listened to a very interesting address by Miss Mary K. Van Duzee, a returned missionary from Oroomlah, in Western Persia, and at present a resident of our village. Miss Van Duzee has been much in demand of late at missionary gatherings, and is always heard with pleasure and profit. The officers of this society are Mrs. Waith, president; Mrs. French, secretary; and Mrs. Richey, treasurer; and in a quiet manner it is doing a most useful work.” Lancaster Times, October 16, 1885.

22 Emily Sarah Clapp (1850 - 1932): https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Clapp-1040

23 Lancaster Times, October 24, 1895.

24 Emeline Draper: https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/L1Q9-Y1G

25 “The Ladies’ Aid Society of the Methodist Church had a meeting for the election of officers for the ensuing year on Tuesday evening. The following is the result: President, Miss Draper; vice president, Mrs. J. M. Ashbaugh; secretary and treasurer, Miss Coleman.” Lancaster Times, October 27, 1892.

26 Lancaster Times, June 5, 1885.

27 Lancaster Times, March 27, 1885.

28 Lancaster Times, February 13, 1885. Other items that promoted the Burdick’s revival included: “We take the following from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle concerning Mr. P.A. Burdick, who is soon to lecture here: ‘A farewell meeting to Mr. P.A. Burdick was held at Batavia Sunday night. The audience was the largest ever assembled under one roof in the town. Mr. Burdick has labored for gospel temperance in Batavia one month; has spoken from one hour to one hour and a half every evening, has had a new address every time, has done great good by awakening public conscience, has faithfully stuck to gospel temperance and has consequently rallied all the temperance forces. Twelve hundred persons signed the pledge, and the churches have organized to look after the signers. Mr. Burdick doesn’t work on the political line, and all classes and creeds, religious and political, attend his meeting.’” Lancaster Times, April 24, 1885.

“Since Mr. Burdick is expected soon in Lancaster, this item from the Buffalo Commercial, of March 26th, may be of interest: Mr. P.A. Burdick, the temperance lecturer, has opened a series of meetings here under the auspices of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Mr. Burdick is a very forcible and excellent speaker and handles his topic with great amount of skill.” Lancaster Times, April 30, 1885.

29 Lancaster Times, June 12, 1885.

30 Lancaster Times, July 3, 1885.

31 Lancaster Times, July 3, 1885. Mr. P.A. Burdick returned to Lancaster in 1886. The following announcement was placed in the newspaper: “The W.C.T.U. of this village has secured the services of that popular and powerful speaker, Mr. P.A. Burdick, to conduct one week’s temperance meetings at Mook’s Island, in this village. The meetings will commence Friday, July 23rd, at eight o’clock P.M. Thursday, July 29th, will be the great field day. On that day there will be three meetings—morning, afternoon, and evening. A small admission fee will be charged only on Thursday, July 29th. Refreshments may be obtained on the grounds on the great field day. All are invited to attend and enjoy the meetings.” Lancaster Times, July 15, 1886.

A letter to the editor described the event:

Mr. Editor: Will you be kind enough to publish a few notes of the great feast spread before our citizens under the auspices of the W.C.T.U.?

P.A. Burdick, Esq., who gave them last year the promise of a second visit this season, has been with us since last Friday evening—came again with added power and ability, more bold and fearless in denouncing the great curse of our country and our town, more wise and able in argument, more witty in illustration and anecdote, more heart-stirring in appeals. He seems called of God to be one of his grand Apostles in this labor of awakening, stimulating and guiding the great temperance work that is now the vital question of the hour in our land and around the world. All who come under the power of his eloquence must feel impressed and uplifted by his earnestness in the work in which he is consecrated. The 29th is to be his grand field day, when he will probably outdo himself, speaking on the following subjects: 11 A.M., “Practical Temperance Work;” 2:30 P.M., “Supreme Curse of the Nation;” 8 P.M., “Who is to Blame.” Refreshments served on the ground all day and evening.

We have had, also, the unexpected treat of a visit from George R. Scott, of the New York Witness, who came by the invitation of Rev. S. McGerald to speak with Mr. Burdick on the Island Saturday evening and on the Sabbath. His impressive, bold and earnest manner will ever be remembered; also his brief, pithy and unanswerable arguments, while the wit and humor continually bursting out can no more be described than the scintillations of a star, giving the impression always, however, that he “wouldn’t dare to be as witty as he could!” Lancaster Times, July 29, 1886.

32 Lancaster Times, July 24, 1885.

33 Lancaster Times, July 24, 1885.

34 Lancaster Times, August 7, 1885.

35 Lancaster Times, August 14, 1885.

36 Lancaster Times, October 21, 1886; Buffalo Evening News, December 18, 1886; The officers were, George Huber, the company President, Joseph Bauer the Vice-President, John Leininger the Treasurer, and Joseph Nuwer the Secretary.

37 Lancaster Times, August 12, 1886.

38 Rev. John A. Copeland, pastor of Lancaster’s ME church was succeeded by Rev. S. McGerald in October 1885. Therefore Mrs. Copeland was succeeded by Mrs. McGerald as WTCU vice-president.

39 Lancaster Enterprise, January 24, 1946; WikiTree: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Huber-1588

40 Lancaster Enterprise, February 27, 1919; WikiTree: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Bauer-2194

41 Lancaster Enterprise, April 7, 1904; WikiTree: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Leininger-251

42 Lancaster Times, July 21, 1892; WikiTree: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Kurtz-509

43 Lancaster Enterprise, March 9, 1939; WikiTree: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Grau-127

44 David A. Gerber, The Making of an American Pluralism: Buffalo, New York, 1825-60, University of Illinois Press, 1989, Chapter 10.

45 “At the meeting of the Brotherhood of Trinity church, to-night, the subject of Woman's suffrage will be debated. A quite interesting time is anticipated as the woman's cause will be championed by two of the ladies of the church, Mrs. Cushing as leader and Mrs. Wenz as her second.” Lancaster Enterprise, May 6, 1896

46 For the Ladies Aid Society at the ME church, see Lancaster Times, May 1, 1883; for the Ladies’ Missionary Society of the Presbyterian church, see Lancaster Times, October 16, 1885.

47 “The Society of King’s Daughter's is about to be reorganized in town. An invitation is extended to those who are already King’s Daughters, or who wish to become such—regardless of denomination—to meet at the Guild Room of Trinity Church on Friday….” Lancaster Times, January 17, 1895; “The clothing exchange will have an opening on Friday of this week in the Library building. ... The exchange is under the management of the King's Daughters, which is sufficient guarantee for goods being as represented. There is on hand good and desirable clothing of better quality than could be secured for like figures elsewhere. ...” Lancaster Times, July 16, 1896.

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