Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

In the spring of 1874 there was considerable interest in Warsaw and Kosciusko county over the activity of a group known as the "Crusaders." The official name of the group was the Ladies Temperance Union; the aim of the organization was to discourage the use of alcoholic beverages. The newspapers of that period are full of accounts of the meetings and activities of this organization.

At that time Warsaw had one licensed liquor saloon, although by reading between the lines in newspapers of that day one gets the impression that liquor was available elsewhere. This one saloon was located where Mumaw's Newsstand is now.

Starting in March the group held a mass meeting nearly every Saturday night. At first these meetings were held in the old Court House, but later ones were in the Opera House. At these gatherings a number of local people would give five to ten minute talks on the evils of liquor and the need for temperance. Although the organization was a women's group, a number of speeches were made by prominent men of Warsaw. On one occasion a man by the name of Van Pelt, a reformed saloon-keeper from Washington, Ohio, was the principal speaker.

The most spectacular part of the group's program was the establishing of a picket line outside of Warsaw's lone liquor store. From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day the women maintained a constant vigil on the sidewalk in front of this North Buffalo street saloon. The women would stand outside and try to influence men and boys from going inside. This picketing lasted for over three months.

As a corporation election was coming up at the time, the women drew up a paper, planning to get all candidates for city offices to sign a statement that they would back the temperance movement. The women were criticized for this political effort, however, and decided to withdraw the paper. In those days it was a generally accepted principle that politics was man's exclusive domain. It was still to be 45 years before women were even given the right to vote.

Evidently this movement was a part of a nationwide reform surge at the time; contemporary local newspapers speak of similar activities in other cities and speak of a "temperance revival" throughout the country.

Warsaw Times-Union Sat. Jun 12, 1954