Breweries of Dayton - A toast to brewers from the Gem City: 1810-1961
Chapter Two: Breweries Lose the Battle of Prohibition - Part One

The Breweries Fight Against Prohibition


            On February 13, 1826 the American Society for the Promotion of Temperance was formed in the city of Boston.  Its goal was to moderate the use of alcoholic beverages. By 1829 the first meeting was held in Dayton and it was the hope of this local chapter to impel people to stop drinking. usually using religious and moral means to persuade them.

            The Temperance Society of Dayton would often meet at the Court House at candle-light to discuss the situation and to listen to guest speakers. They would also sing songs and read poems in this vein:


Down In the Licensed Saloon

by W. A. Williams


Where is my wand'ring boy tonight!  Down in the licensed saloon.

Down in a room all cozy and bright,

Filled with the glare of many alight,

Beautiful music in the ear to delight - Down in the licensed saloon.


Where is my wand'ring boy tonight!  Down in the licensed saloon.

Learning new vices all the night long,

Tempted to all that's sinful and wrong

Listening to the harlot's foul song - Down in the licensed saloon.


Where is my wand'ring boy tonight!  Down in the licensed saloon.

Little arms once were thrown 'round my neck:

Look at him now! my poor heart will break!

Think of that boy tonight a sad wreck - Down in the licensed saloon.


Where is my wand'ring boy tonight!  Down in the licensed saloon.

Brother, I guess you'd enter this fight,

If it were your boy down there to-night,

Ruined and wrecked by the drink ap-pe-tite - Down in the licensed saloon.


There is my wand'ring boy tonight, There is my wand'ring boy tonight,

Down, down, down, down, - Down in the licensed saloon!


            In the 1840's the Washington Temperance Societies conducted revival-style meetings to gather pledges of abstinence.  Maine became the first state to approve of a state wide prohibition law.  With this victory efforts were increased and several states followed.  But the law was difficult to enforce and with the coming of the Civil War most of the prohibition laws were repealed.

            The National Woman's Christian Temperance Union, founded in 1874 in Cleveland, Ohio decided that the only way to save people from the temptation to drink was to outlaw the selling of intoxicants.  One of the best known members of the WCTU was Carry Nation, who began her crusade in 1892.  Her eloquent speeches were mostly ignored by the drinkers in Kansas, so she resorted to other means to get her message across.  Armed with a hatchet, she would enter a saloon and begin to smash bottles and furniture.  At first she was applauded for this direct approach to the problem, but her "Hatchetations" eventually led to her being personally attacked and arrested on several occasions.

            The WCTU soon announced publicly that Miss Nation had no connection to their organization.  Eventually Carry Nation took to the vaudeville circuit as a way to spread her message across the United States.

            On September 25, 1904 Carry Nation stopped in Dayton.   The headlines read:





            Her visit was a success.  In fact, Dayton loved her so much that she was asked to come back.  She agreed to do so and returned October 22, 1904.  Carry came carrying her satchel which held her new book called The Use and Need of the Life of Carrie Nation, an autobiography.  The satchel also held souvenir wooden hatchets that she sold for ten cents a piece.  Every day she gave a speech.  Hundreds of people would attend each one, each held at a different church, each started with the passing of the plate for donations.  The first night she sold out of her little hatchets.  Everyone was on the "anxious seat", quoted the paper, since they felt that Carry would not be able to hold back her tavern-smashing tendencies for very long.

            One citizen decided not to wait.

            "Walter Ross," wrote the paper., "either before or after taking, or partaking of red wine, amber-colored beer or carnation-colored fire-water, donned a sunbonnet, a black skirt and a Mother Hubbard and procuring a wooden hatchet, thus attired and equipped, suddenly appeared on Third Street yesterday afternoon.  When he, she or it stopped in front of a Third street saloon and brandished the axe, a crowd gathered in expectation that a Carry Nation devastation was about to take place."

Unfortunately for the crowd, it didn't happen.  Two policemen happened by and stopped the man, taking him to police headquarters.

            The crowd never did get to see a Hatchatation.  Carrie left Dayton on October 31, 1904.  At her last meeting there were over 4000 people there to greet her at the armory and hundreds more were turned away.


Exceprt from The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation, by Carry A. Nation



            “Mrs. Carry Nation closed her crusade in this city, Dayton, Ohio, yesterday by holding three remarkable meetings.

            “In the morning she filled the pulpit of the Home Avenue U. B. church and as usual the church was not large enough to hold the crowd and many had to stand outside.

Mrs. Nation was afterwards entertained at dinner by Rev. H. A. Thompson at his residence, opposite the U. B. seminary.

            “The National theatre had been engaged for Mrs. Nation's Sunday afternoon meeting, though Broadway M. E. church wanted her, but Mrs. Nation desired to hold that meeting in as large a place as possible, as she anticipated that there would be a large attendance. At the last moment the National theatre management decided they could not permit the house to be used Sunday, as they expected an inspection of the auditorium, so Mrs. Nation's committee secured the big Armory around the corner from the theatre at Sixth and the canal. Mrs. Nation had especially invited the saloonkeepers, sports and unmarried young men and ladies. The meeting was announced for 2:30, but at 1 o'clock the crowds began to assemble. The large choir from McKinley M. E. church, under direction of Rev. C. T. Lewis and his wife, arrived about 1:30 and rendered a fine lot of selections until Mrs. Nation opened the meeting at 2:30. There were only seats for about 3,000, but Captain Hooven estimated the crowd as about 3,800 people. The galleries wee crowded and nearly the entire auditorium. All sorts of people were present -- business and professional men, saloonkeepers, and preachers, while W. C. T. U. ladies were in evidence by their white ribbons. Representatives from probably every church in Dayton were present and it is safe to say that it was the greatest gathering of its kind ever held in this city. A collection box was at the door and a splendid offering was obtained as everybody contributed -- many liberally, among whom was Dr. L. T. Cooper, who handed in a silver dollar, stating: "I don't agree with her in all things, but she means well."

            “Mrs. Nation made a characteristic talk of over an hour, giving much advice in a kindly way and, as usual, backing up all her arguments with Scripture.

            “Mrs. Nation held her last meeting at 7 o'clock at Summit Street U. B. church, and a thousand or more people stood around the outside of the church unable to get in.  Mrs. Nation answered many questions put to her at this meeting and from the view of the radical temperance advocates this was probably the strongest talk she made. In every respect the meeting was a success.”



In order to try and stop people from drinking the Anti-Saloon League began spreading the rumor that beer was made of poison.  In 1908 the Dayton brewers tried to counter these attacks with articles on what ingredients went into beer and how it was made.  The following text is an example of this, which appeared in the Dayton Journal newspaper June 21, 1908.


Prohibition Will Not Solve the Problem



The Dayton Breweries Company With Its 506 Stockholders, Its Association With Allied Trades and Its Large Pay Roll, An Important Factor in City's Industry.  Liberal Laws and Strict Enforcement the Ultimate Solution.


            From the very beginning of time the history of mankind has consisted of the contest between radicalism and conservatism.  All the wars of the past can trace their origins to some radical and undiplomatic move on the part of one belligerent, combated by a firm determination on the part of the second belligerent not to be imposed upon.  This latter phase constitutes what is commonly known as personal liberty, and is the basis of all clean and upright government.  The temperance problem will never be solved by intemperate radicalism.  It is a matter if the most vital importance. and history has proven that when the great American people face this sort of a situation, conservative, careful action resulting from the most profound deliberation is always resorted to.  An effort has been made to "stampede the convention", as it were, by incoherent and meaningless excitement.  The result has been what we have come to popularly designate as a temperance wave: but this so-called temperance wave, when the great profound depts of deliberate American thought is considered, resolves itself into a mere surface ripple, general albeit but of little importance.  Americans have a way of lending their zeal playfully to various and interesting fads.  Recently the prohibition fad furnished no end of interest in a superficial way, but when the people came to realize the tendency of taking the fad seriously such incidents as the defeat of Hoke Smith in Georgia and Stockton's defeat in Florida resulted.  Many States had the matter of temperance legislation brought before their respective Legislatures and quite a number, swayed by the expressions of their constituency, voted for local option.  In certain districts where the liquor traffic is of little industrial importance sections were thrown "dry”.  In many other sections. Such, for example, as in Montgomery County and other counties in the State of Ohio in which the liquor industry is of practically unlimited importance, the people have begun a most profound and careful study of the actual merits of the case at hand.  This constitutes merely another example if the final tendency of Americans to look before they leap when on the verge of deciding a question of such monumental importance.  Let us then, in keeping with the public disposition to get at the meat of this matter, temporarily at any rate, wave all personal prejudice with which we may have become infected and apply to this situation the same methods which our forefathers applied in Fennel Hall to the unreasonable attitude of English tendency toward oppression, namely - REASON.

            The question before us is: How far can we safely go in the direction of prohibition?  This question has already received an immense amount of consideration locally and the trend of public opinion is already toward conservatism.  Her financial institutions are the pride of Dayton and its vicinity, and no thoughtless disarrangements will ever be able to permanently injure anyone of them.

            Inasmuch at the breweries’ interest of Dayton would be vitally affected, let us for a moment look into its merits and faults, if you please.  To begin with, The Dayton Breweries Company is composed of 506 stockholders, which will average five to the family.  This aggregates two thousand five hundred and thirty people who would be financially eliminated if radicalism were applied locally to this problem.  We find that one thousand, five hundred and seventy-five people subsist wholly through employment given them by The Dayton Breweries Company.  In Dayton there are approximately three hundred and eighty-eight saloons.  The families of the keepers of these saloons will average five to the family.  On this basis one thousand nine hundred and forty people will depend upon the saloon business for the necessities of life in Dayton.  Thus it is evident that five thousand seven hundred and forty-five, or the total of the figures above given, depend directly on the industry at which the anti-saloon league is directing its antagonism.  The allied trades, such as coopers, horse-shoers, merchants, printers, paperhangers, factories, the Cash Register Co., etc., who are affected indirectly by any blow aimed at the Dayton Breweries Company will aggregate, conservatively estimated, twenty-thousand.  This gives us a grand total of at least twenty-five thousand people who would be vitally affected within the city limits of Dayton by any move aimed at The Dayton Breweries Company, or one-fifth of the population of the city.  The financial embarrassment of one-fifth of its population is not a thing to be consummated without the most painstaking deliberation and it does not stand to reason that Dayton, which is known far and wide for its conservatism, will ever bring upon herself such a disaster.

            Thus it will be seen readily that The Dayton Breweries Company is an institution deserving and worthy in an economic way of the support of the city in which it has become a decided financial factor.  Yearly this concern expends over one million dollars in the operation of their various plants. Aikin taxes from local saloon business amounts to approximately $380,000 annually and the income which its real estate contributes to the coffers amounts to $241,592.  The grand total contributed by this industry to the community mounts annually to $1,629,592.  Viewed from an economical standpoint alone, The Dayton Breweries Company is readily seen to be of vast local importance.  These breweries operate, in all, seven complete branches.  In architectural construction they are a credit to the city.  In case prohibition should at any time gain a foothold in this vicinity these plants would be necessarily vacated, their importance and value greatly depreciated and those who find employment within their walls would of necessity be at once robbed of their means of support, entailing naturally hardship and in some cases privation in their families.

            Beer contains approximately three and one-half percent alcohol.  When drank in excess its use becomes intemperate, but taken in moderation the medical profession concedes that beer is a highly beneficial and nutritious beverage.  The high percentage of malt used in its production makes it one of the best tonics that human ingenuity has produced.  We grant that it should be used in moderation.  On the other hand, we believe that the same rule should be observed in the enjoyment of all things.  Gluttony constitutes a form of intemperance which any physician of repute will tell you is more detrimental so the human system than even an intemperate use of beer.  Gluttony produces mental dullness and physical incapacity, which inevitably makes towards inefficiency and results in disqualifying a man for his business as surely, albeit more slowly, as the use of even stronger alcoholic beverages to which, be it said to its credit, beer does not belong.  The greatest beer drinking nation on the globe is Germany.  In Germany the production of beer in 1905 amounted to 1,601,000,000 gallons.  The percentage of drunkenness in this country is lower than any other.  France consumes less beer than any other nation on earth, and is generally known to be the most intemperate nation in the history of the world.  At one time England determined to suppress beer.  The results was instantaneous.  Grog shops of the most debauching character sprang up where the beer-drinking garden had been before, and with n appalling increase in percentage of intemperance.  To the man who reasons in an unprejudiced ways, from these facts it becomes apparent that the general use of beer tends to decrease intemperance.  Some such a solution as the following will ultimately be the outcome of the problem.

            A license law whereby a saloon keeper must enter into a contract with the State and before receiving a license he must qualify before a count of inquiry and must also qualify as to his location, a law that will restrict the saloon, say to one saloon every five hundred inhabitants.  Upon the violation of any law or ordinance such license to be suspended for a period of thirty days for the first offense, sixty days for the second offense, and for the third offense a revocation of his license and permanent disbarment from ever again entering into the business.  The old principle of home rule should apply in the government of ordinances and regulations past.


            Prohibition is a theory which has yet to be proven practicable.  The wave of sentimentality recently inaugurated in it favor is but another historical repetition.  Between 1845 and 1860 quite as radical a movement was experienced in this country.  During that period eighteen States of the Union adopted prohibition.  Every New England State, without a single exception, became subjected to this theory.  At present all have abandoned it as a failure with the single exception of the State of Maine.  Does this imply that the people of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, with its grand old university at Cambridge; Rhode Island, and Connecticut, whose Yale is the mecca of American intelligence - does this imply that these States are less intelligent and less moral than Maine?  For fifty-one years Vermont tested prohibition.  She found it a failure.  It took New Hampshire fifty-one years to arrive at the conclusion that prohibition does not prohibit, that the power of law is not of sufficient effectiveness to regulate the legitimate desires of those who create it. Can the most ardent advocate of prohibition contend that the test given his theory in these two States was not of sufficient duration to either prove or disprove it?  Rhode Island twice attempted prohibition, and by a popular vote repealed the law which put it into effect.  In Connecticut, after a test of eighteen years, a prohibitory amendment was submitted to a popular vote and met with signal defeat.  Connecticut, after having tried both prohibition and license, accepted the latter for the simple reason that it was more conductive to moral improvement and temperance.  The fact is that WHENEVER THE THEORY OF PROHIBITION HAS BEEN PUT INTO EFFECT IT HAS BEEN FOUND WANTING, AND THE INTELLIGENCE AND THE CONSCIENCE OF THE PEOPLE HAVE CONDEMNED IT AS A FAILURE.  IT ACCOMPLISHED NOTHING CLAIMED FOR IT.  IT DOES NOT PROMOTE SOBRIETY.  AFTER SIXTY-YEARS TRAIL THE CITIES OF MAINE ARE CURSED WITH MORE DRUNKENNESS THAN ANY LICENSED CITY IN AMERICA.  Prohibition does not prohibit, and where it has been tried the result has been a moral deluge of deception, political corruption and the evasion of laws.

            Radical prohibition agitators are trying to destroy the entire brewing, malting and distilling industries, thereby injuring and dealing a severe blow to the workingmen, farmers, building trades, manufacturing concerns, advertising, insurance, real estate dealers, mercantile houses, transportation companies and others too numerous to mention throughout the United States.  The endeavors are to injure and destroy industries to the extent of Several Billion Dollars, thereby bringing about hardship and financial loss.  It would mean that the farmers will loss that market, for millions of millions of dollars worth of grain used annually by the industries, causing an immense loss that will react on every merchant and wage earner.

            It would mean that the building contractors and manufacturing concerns who are directly interested to the extent of over 250 Million Dollars Annually would be compelled to reduce their working forces or close their plants, putting thousands of mechanics out of work.

            Prohibition means the unjust destruction of many millions of dollars worth of legitimate industries and business and also means that in view of all this destruction prohibition would be unable to control the American people from indulging in their equal rights and personal liberty, guaranteed them under the Constitution of the United States, thereby making prohibition ineffective and resulting in law breaking and deception.

            It means that the property holders and general pubic would be burdened with exorbitant taxes, vacant buildings and decreased real estate valuations and in addition thereto be compelled to pay an increase of $215,804,720 in taxes, the enormous amount now received from the industries for internal revenue stamps, besides the 100 million dollars from City. State and Government licenses.

            FACTS for farmers, manufacturers, dealers, insurance agents, transportation companies and wage earners in the Miami Valley.

            The brewers, maltsters and distillers of the United States consume in their products every year: 36,361,975 bushels of corn, $27,274,208; 62,760,000 bushels of barley, $62,760,000; 5,595,000 bushels of rye, $3,916,889; sugar products, hops and assorted grains, $16,358,000; labor (producers only), $54,542,000; coal and other fuel, $5,000,000; bottles, $15,000,000; lumber, rubber goods, steam engines, machinery, tools, steam fittings, plumbers supplies, wagons, harnesses, builders supplies, filtering material, chemical supplies, paint and varnish, furniture, brushes, packing house products, advertising signs, printing, $150,000,000; fire insurance premiums, $15,000,000; railroad freight and express, $20,000,000, making a total paid in to the producing sources of the Untied States of $369,851,097.

            These industries and the allied trades have a total investment of upward of $3,1000,000,000, they pay annually State and Government License amounting to $271,867,990.

            In addition they pay City License, Real Estate and Personal Property taxes aggregating the enormous total of $84,5000,000.

            The continued growth of Prohibition and the destruction of the Brewing and Distilling industries would result in the Farmer and the Allied Trades in all lines of manufacture being made to suffer great losses through the destroyed market for their products.

            Dayton saloons are conceded to be the best regulated and orderly not only in the State, but in the country.  Every saloon conforms to the requirements of the law, and if they do not it is more often the brewers who prosecute them for the violation than the temperance workers.  Last October the brewers of Ohio organized a league to compel the saloons of their respective districts to comply with the law and to compel them to do so if such a course were necessary.  A set of resolutions which covers every phase of the work were drawn up and all brewers, especially those in our city, are diligent in having them carried out.  The resolution was:


            Resolved, That the executive board be instructed to establish a bureau, the duties of whose officials shall be to investigate the reputation and character of every saloon in such districts of the state in which complaints regarding disorderly saloons may be found to prevail, and that whenever obnoxious saloons violating the moral sense of the community or existing laws regarding the conditions of the business shall be found to exist, the report containing such proof shall first be sent to the proper authorities with a request that legal steps be taken to close up the obnoxious saloon.  Upon failure of such authorities to take proper action the association shall itself, through its attorney, bring legal action against the saloon keeper or use such legal means as may be expedient to bring about the same result.

            That the executive board be empowered to use the association funds for the furtherance of this purpose, and that such members shall be indemnified against any loss, legal expense or damage which may result from action under this resolution.

             The nine breweries of the city are under the management of but three companies, seven of them having been consolidated some time ago.  Although this resolution has been vigorously enforced ever since its passage by these three establishments, it was nothing different from the already existing conditions, for the same plans had been carried out by the local brewers since March 1904, at their own expense.
            It can be readily seen, therefore, why the Ohio saloons rank ahead of any in the country and why the local saloons are the best and most orderly throughout the State.  The saloon keepers themselves are doing all in their power to have only orderly and respectable people about their places of business, and give much assistance to the authorities in trying to stamp out the lower class of places.

Return to "Breweries of Dayton" Home Page