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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CUYAHOGA COUNTY TEMPERANCE SOCIETY

CUYAHOGA COUNTY TEMPERANCE SOCIETY

The CUYAHOGA COUNTY TEMPERANCE SOCIETY, organized on 31 Mar. 1830, was the first recorded temperance group in Cleveland. It was a branch of the American Temperance Society, the first national temperance group, organized in 1826. In Oct. 1841, the society became the Cuyahoga County Total Abstinence Society, but contemporary newspapers called it by its old and new names. The society was formed at "a large, respectable meeting of citizens from different parts of the county." Nehemiah Allen became president of the new group; vice-presidents were JOSIAH BARBER, DATUS KELLEY, and Samuel Freeman; Orville B. Skinner served as secretary, and ASHBEL W. WALWORTH was treasurer. This group was apparently short-lived, however, for the society was organized anew on 15 May 1838, with J. Delamater as president, JAS. A. BRIGGS as secretary, and Leverett Johnson and Lloyd Sterling as vice-presidents. This group appears to have been somewhat more active, holding several quarterly meetings; it still apparently met with little success.

Still another call to organize a county-wide temperance society was issued in the 19 Oct. 1841 CLEVELAND HERALD. This call, issued by the presidents of 4 local temperance groups--the MARINE TOTAL ABSTINENCE SOCIETY, the Young Men's Total Abstinence Society, the Washington Total Abstinence Society, and the Cleveland Temperance Society--resulted in the formation of the Cuyahoga County Total Abstinence Society on 21 Oct. 1841, with prominent reformer JOHN A. FOOTE as president. This organization proved to be more active than the earlier groups; it held regular quarterly meetings and flourished throughout the 1840s but was apparently on the decline in the 1850s. Its appears to have held its last meeting early in 1860. The county society drew upon existing temperance and total abstinence societies for its members. As early as 1850, reports of the society's meetings mentioned the frustration of the group's members, as drunkenness was still prevalent; yet, they decided "to continue the society's work in spite of discouragements," and that success required "a spirit of more determined energy on the part of friends of temperance." By mid-1860, that spirit appears to have been spent, for no record of the society exists after 1860.