Whispers of Kosse’s Past
On August 21, 1885, the very first edition of the Kosse Cyclone was printed. The publisher was a man named James O. Jones. That week, the Galveston Daily News printed the following quote from Mr. Jones.
“To run the Cyclone is in the interest of Kosse, Limestone County, the Prohibition Party, and its publisher.”
The Prohibition Party? Was that not a movement in the 1920s? Not in Texas! The roots of Prohibition began much earlier than the 20th century.
The Temperance movement went through various stages beginning in the late 1700s. There were many social groups devoted to the eradication of the “devil’s drink”. Many people have heard of the hatchet carrying temperance woman Carrie Nation who, in the mid-1800s, would walk into saloons, smashing bottles and raising a ruckus.
Treatises published throughout the 18th and 19th centuries expounded on the evils of alcohol. It was claimed that alcohol was the root of poverty, domestic violence, impiety, and many other societal ills. These ideals absolutely had merit, however, temperance workers faced stiff opposition while attempting to change the laws.
Many people believed that the daily consumption of alcohol was good for the body, that it helped to ward off disease and kept the body’s “humors” balanced. One of the main ingredients in common medications from the time was a base of alcohol, along with other intoxicants like opium, morphine, or cocaine.
In 1886, the Temperance movement in Texas was in full swing. The Prohibition Party nominated several candidates for political office that year and the newspapers were full of articles relating to the restriction of alcohol sales. By this time, several laws relating to the sale of alcohol in Texas had been made and repealed. Lawmakers eventually settled on the solution to allow local governments to enact their own restrictions, rather than enacting a statewide law.
On September 1, 1886, Limestone county opted for a semi-arid state. Saloons could serve beer, but no liquor. Considering that Kosse was still a pretty wild place in 1886, this probably did not sit too well with the local citizens or the passersby. In later years, many moonshining, rum-running, and illicit sales arrests were made, including a saloon owner in Kosse, who was selling liquor in the back room of HER saloon! I wonder what Carrie Nation would have had to say about that?