Friday, February 24, 2012

Abstinence Societies in America

Abstinence Certificate at Venerable Matt Talbot Resource Center 
But an Abstinence Society and Genealogy? In researching in the small town of Washington, Iowa, Clinton County, I ran across information on the St. Patrick’s Total Abstinence Society.  The goal was to practice total abstinence from alcohol and  spoke against imbibing and highlighted the medical issues. And it appears this active society was filled with members (our ancestors) not only in rural Iowa and small communities; but it spread across America, Ireland, Scotland, England and moreAccording to the History of the Total Abstinence Union of America, published by Penn Penn Printing 1907, pg. 11, the US temperance movement began as early as 1676 in Virginia when the first prohibitory act was passed.  This Irish Temperance movement was initiated in Cork, Ireland, April 1838, by the "Apostle of Temperance" the Franciscan priest Father Theobald Mathew (1790-1856).  Yet, the first temperance society was found in the USA, 1780, Litchfield, CT.

Although the movement seemed to go in and out of fashion, reflecting the ebb and flow of economic times, it reached eventually reached rural America and new settlements and was embraced by Clinton County Iowa.

During the pastorate of Father McCormick, a great revolution was made in the community on the question of total abstinence.  In December, 1875, he held a mission, at the conclusion of which the temperance pledge was given by him to nearly every member in his parish.  In February, 1876, St. Patrick's Total Abstinence (Temperance) Society, of Center Grove, was organized.  There were about 80 members. (The History of Clinton County, Iowa, 1879 Chicago: Western Historical Company page 815, Washington Township).
Not Just Irish
From Accessible Archives website 
The Temperance Meeting did not stay confined in the Irish communities. Groups and societies served all people. For example, there was the Rochester Colored Total Abstinence Association, 1841 and many others, especially in the New England states. 
The movement was also well accepted in Scotland.

Was This A National Movement?
First let us understand that Abstinence Societies still exist in Ireland, Scotland, England, and in the USA (and of course in other locales). The societies went viral, reaching the homeland of Ireland and by 1828 there was a Total Abstinence Society was formed in Glasgow.

The Osman’s Irish in the Manitowoc County [WI] Historical Society Newsletter ran an article, “Osman -The Heart of ‘Irish Meeme’.”  [Memee is a small commnity near Manitowoc.]

Reverend Father Francis D. Rose of Saint Isadore’s Parish in Osman described the history of Memee and then included a few local legends.
At the annual meeting on March 17, 1877, the members of the Total Abstinence Society voted to build a Hall. 

The Pioneer Total Abstinence Association of the Sacred Heart (or PTAA) is said to be an Irish organisation for Roman Catholic teetotallers.  This present day organization as founded in 1898.  (Genealogical note: the term Pioneer was often used synonymously as  teetotallism among Irish Catholic in the 20th century).  

Did My Ancestor Sign? Finding Records

Original Source Unknown
If you are researching an ancestor be sure to note obituaries. These obituaries not only provide ancestral information but it may also define community.
In memory of George Farrell
It is with feelings  of the most profound and  sincere regret that we pen the following tribute in memory of our departed friend, George Farrell, who died on Friday morning, March  24th, age fifty-two years,  after a long and painful illness from which  he suffered much, but   bore it with  christian fortitude and resignation,  declaring himself resigned  to the will  of the Most High.  George was dearly beloved by all who knew him.  Previous to his death  he was attended  by the Rev.  Father Garland,  and received the last rites of the church, of which he was a devoted member  during life.  He was a  member of St.  Patrick's  Catholic Total Abstinence Society, of  Center Grove,  which  turned  out  in  full regalia  to  attend the funeral  on Sunday.
The History of Clinton County, Iowa, 1879 Chicago: Western Historical Company, page 815, Washington Township).
Some parishes still hold society membership books, or you may find copies of your ancestor’s pledge in the attic.  Of course, newsletters and newspapers are a great source.
Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

No comments:

Post a Comment