A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

History: The Matawan Journal Calls for Temperance Society, 1876

The 14 Oct 1876 edition of The Matawan Journal (pg 2 col 1) reported that John Hill, a saloon keeper in Keyport, fled the area, seemingly in anticipation of his second Grand Jury indictment for keeping a "disorderly house." This prompted Mr Hill to flee, or, to quote the newspaper, to take "leg bail."

"Whether he had heard of the indictment, or was assured that it would be made, we have not learned; but it is evident that his guilt was so well established in his own mind that he knew his next fate would be State Prison. To avoid this he has run away."

Getting on his temperance soap box, the newspaper editor complained that Hill was only one of many bar keeps in Monmouth and Middlesex counties who "are violators of the very license law that grants them the privilege to pour rum down the throats of their neighbors and impoverish their families." The  bars were even selling liquor within earshot of the area churches' pulpits during worship service hours, he complained, a clear violation of the license, which sets rules to keep these businesses shuttered on Sundays. "Six week-days we would judge to be enough for the privilege of carrying on such a work of human destruction and family desolation as this. . ."

The editor, pointing out that there was no temperance society in Matawan, asked rhetorically, "Is not the evil practiced here? Have we become so highly moral as to need no institution to keep up this virtue save the churches?" The editor credited the churches for doing great work, but called for additional measures for those who had lost their way. "[T]here are many who seem to need another step before they enter the sanctuary, and that step is the temple of temperance."

The editor worried that local society was ignoring the problem as their boys faced the life of a drunkard and their girls the grim possibility of "becoming the wives of men whom intemperance may curse." In the meantime, the editor noted, municipal officials were continuing to issue licenses despite the peril around them. In an obvious reference to The Devil, the editor thought that local officials were turning a blind eye, instead "doing nothing to stay the fowler from spreading his net."


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