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By Patricia Patula, Town Archivist / photo by George Paine ::

News Dispatches from Other Centuries
A series devoted to describing Washington Grove’s earliest days based on historic newspapers (appearing as written) and original records in the Grove’s archives.

“A Day Devoted to the Cause of Temperance, August 20, 1883”
Washington Grove Camp is given as the location for this day devoted to the Cause of Temperance by the Special Correspondent of The Post who wrote this piece. He sets the mood by observing that few people were there from the county, and those present were mostly from the immediate neighborhood, but the number attending was “nothing like as large as was anticipated.” As it turned out, the attendance was estimated to be twelve hundred, mostly women and children.

Patriotic decorations and a military presence emphasized the importance of this Temperance Day.
“The platform of the tabernacle was dressed in good taste. In the rear of the stand the American flag was gracefully festooned and immediately above it the inscription, ‘Our God and homes and native land.’ On each side of this were placed scriptural mottos.” Into this setting, at 10:30 a.m., approximately “fifty soldiers of the Second United States artillery stationed in Gaithersburg,” marched onto the grounds accompanied by a band.

At that point, the women took over.
At 11 o’clock, “Mrs. Linville called the meeting to order by reading the seventy-second psalm and made a few introductory remarks. Mrs. Linville was followed by Mrs. Dr. Rogers, Mrs. Welding, and Mrs. Burris in short addresses which were well received. The latter introduced the soldiers. Several of the soldiers made addresses. The children’s temperance meeting was held at 2 o’clock and conducted by Mrs. Dr. Rogers. Miss Laton and others made some well-timed remarks, which seemed to leave a most pleasing impression on the children.”

Because the temperance movement stressed the evils and ugliness of alcoholism, so dramatically and seriously portrayed in the derogatory cartoons of the time, one’s curiosity is peaked as to what was presented to the children. Perhaps they were told one of the stories from “The Temperance Reader; Designed for Use in Schools” by Charles Yale written in 1835. Two excerpts of these emotionally charged stories, “A Glass of Rum–what it costs” and “Confessions of a Spirit Dealer” can be found on the Internet. (You might want to review them to decide if you would like to have them read to your child. Or if you would like to impress upon your “young person” the evils of alcohol/drug use in a more visual vein, review the Ohio State University website on Prohibition or the site called Harp Week Cartoons.)

This Post writer obviously felt a strong commitment to obtaining the names of everyone present. Just look at this list to see if you recognize any.

More speakers followed the signing of the pledge to avoid alcohol: Hon. Hiram Price, commissioner of Indian affairs, and B.H. Warner. The latter impressed the Post writer who described Mr. Warner’s effort as a “masterly one, and . . . warmly received.” The “attending clergy upon the camp” were named: Dr. F. Howard; Henry S. Wilson; Rev. O. C. Marriott to hold morning prayer-meeting in the tabernacle; Rev. John Lanahan to do later preaching; Dr. Joseph France to do the communion service; and Dr. Dashiel of Frederick to preach Wednesday morning. Others in attendance were noted because of their support of the temperance movement: David H. Bouic, president of the State county alliance; Henry Henshaw; Rev. S. R. White; Franklin Mace; Montgomery Claggett (spelling varies); and Frank Griffith. These “attentive listeners” included Dr. Summers, Colonel W. Bowie, Judge Dorsey, David Griffith, James Dawson, and W. T. Rabbit (probably spelled Rabbitt).

The names of Clagett (spelling varies) and Rabbitt are familiar names to long-time residents of Gaithersburg. Could W. T. Rabbit be an ancestor of Charles Herman Rabbitt of Gaithersburg who was a farmer and left half his fortune in old milk cans (1972)? And could Montgomery Claggett be part of the Clagett family who has a street in Gaithersburg named after them, or be an ancestor of Wilson Clagett, who started Hershey’s Cleaners in Gaithersburg, which is continued by his son Lambert? Or be a descendant of Henry Clagett (1731-1778), whose heirs sold 200 acres of his farm to Frederick A. Tschiffely in 1900 which are now known as Kentlands. (Calling all genealogists . . .)

More social news follows. “Dr. John Lanahan arrived on the morning train and is staying at the Sibley cottage. Rev. R. B. Prettyman and Rev. Mr. Bond are also on the ground. Miss Mary Summers, of Washington, daughter of Judge Summers, of this county, came on the morning train.”

Finally, to conclude his description of Temperance Day, the narrator writes about Miss Annie Fieldmeyer, of Annapolis, whose singing was “one of the most attractive features of the day” which unfortunately was one that was “disagreeably warm. General Ayres and staff have accepted Mr. Noyes’ invitation to be present at the entertainment on Wednesday to the management and clergy.”

Sources: The Newspaper quotes are from The Washington Post (1887-1992); Aug. 21, 1883; ProQuest Historical Newspapers
www/teachushistory.org/ . . . /stories-temperance-read

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