Arguments for and against prohibition of alcoholic beverages had been going on for years. But they reached a peak in the final months of 1918 when the 18th Amendment, also known as the Volstead Act, cleared one step after another en route to ratification.

The news was no different in Pueblo. On Nov. 23, the Chieftain carried a pair of headlines on its front page:

“Investigation shows brewers activities” and “Prohibitionists will demand drastic enforcement of the law.”

For many years, hoping to head off the Anti-Saloon league, brewers attempted a series of public relations/ad campaigns.

They tried “fact versus fiction” advertisements. They tried a “patriotic” campaign. They tried “famous leaders” campaign. They even tried a campaign where they said since bread and beer are made from basically the same products, they both must be food (The original instant breakfast?).

The brewers also mounted campaigns calling for moderation in the consumption of alcohol.

The anti-alcohol group was having none of it. And, that group had the upper hand.

The U.S. Brewers Association was called before the U.S. senate, where Maj. E. Lowery Humes, the man in charge of the inquiry, read from the brewers’ private files detailing their efforts against the prohibition amendment.

So confident were the anti-drink crowd that they made it very clear what they wanted to do once the amendment was passed.

Wayne B. Wheeler, national counsel for the Anti-Saloon League, spoke before a group of state Anti-Saloon League superintendents and dry workers in Columbus, Ohio. The details of his speech were printed on the front page of The Chieftain.

Wheeler said “near beer” would come under the ban. He said the sale and manufacture of alcoholic beverages, which would be prohibited by the amendment, would include distilled, malt, vinous, spirituous and alcoholic liquors.

Wheeler said “no person will be permitted to have liquor in his possession unless it has been acquired legally and to be acquired legally, it must be obtained under a special permit issued by the federal enforcement officers or by state enforcement officers.

Even alcohol used for sacramental and medicinal purposes must be obtained with permits, Wheeler said.

Owners of “speak easies” would face possible prison time, Wheeler told the group.

There was a reason Wheeler and his group were so confident. Just a few days before, the government passed a precursor of the Volstead Act. The Wartime Prohibition Act was passed on Nov. 18, 1918, seven days after the armistice. Originally, it was created to help save grain for the war effort, but the war was over and the bill still was being put into effect. That was just the beginning of the prohibition bills. U.S. politicians were preparing the main prohibition bill for submission to the Congress in December 1918.

It looked like John Barleycorn was out and, as the title of a song popular at the time stated, “Every Day Will Be Sunday When the Town Goes Dry.”

With ratification near, people began to hoard alcoholic beverages already in stock.

“Express company will open branch booze office today,” a Nov. 26 story in The Chieftain reported.

“So heavy has the booze business become that manager J.I. Muncie of the American Railway Express Company has found it necessary to open a branch office for distribution of the packages of liquor.

“The branch will be opened this morning at 10 o’clock at 322 Santa Fe Avenue and from that address more than 1,000 packages which are already on hand and undelivered will be dealt out to the proper owners.

“Up to last month or so, it was a very big day when 100 packages were handled. Of late, the number has been 200 to 300. It has been found to be impossible to handle the business from the commodious offices of the consolidated company.”

 

World War I cleanup

The world war may have ended a couple of weeks ago, but the news from Europe, both good and bad, was still streaming forth.

Much of it showed what a confused state Europe was in. Other items brought news of death and suffering, reminding readers of how terrible war is.

“William Hohenzollern still Kaiser declares high British authority,” read a headline in the Nov. 23 Chieftain.

The Kaiser had fled to Holland at the end of the war. The Dutch considered him an unwelcome guest. The British considered him the head of Germany, the country they wanted to punish for starting the war.

And the Kaiser himself? He considered himself retired from public life. And that’s basically what he was. He would remain in Holland for the rest of his life, spending his days making firewood, earning the sobriquet “The Wood Chopper of Doorn.”

 

Pueblo corporal killed in France

The war may have ended, but if your family member hadn’t returned from France, there was no guarantee that he would, as Pueblo families continued to find out.

“Mr. and Mrs. J.G. Haas, 1028 Pine St., received the sad news last night that their son, Cpl. Chris Haas, was killed in action Oct. 14,” reported The Chieftain on Nov. 23.

“Cpl. Haas, who was 31 years of age, was born and raised in pueblo and during that time, he made a large number of friends. He enlisted in the Army Sept. 26, 1917, and was sent to Fort Logan and from there he was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where he completed his training before being sent overseas.

“He sailed for France last March with the Seventh Engineers Corps and his stay there earned the esteem of his officers.”

 

Sgt. Dean dies of wounds in France

“News comes from France of the death of another of Pueblo County’s brave soldier boys who volunteered his services to Uncle Sam at the same time it was thought the country might go to war with Mexico.

“O.C. Dean was born in Pueblo 24 years ago, Oct. 3, but spent most of his time on the farm with his father in Orchard Park. He went with the army to the Mexican border, from there he was transferred to Philadelphia and then was sent overseas, being a member of the First Army and being in the thick of some of the great battles and received wounds from which he died. No particulars have been received by the family.

 

Son killed at the fighting front

“Thomas Conway, heater at the steelworks, yesterday received a message from the war department informing him that his son, Charles Conway, was killed in the battle of the Argonne Forest. No other details were available,” reported The Chieftain on Nov. 28.

 

Conquering heroes

Many of those who survived the fighting now were marching through Europe, making sure the German troops retreated back to Germany.

“American Troops march through Luxembourg,” read a headline in the Nov. 23 Chieftain. “Grand duchess welcomes army of liberation.”

 

Homecoming celebrations

Meanwhile, Pueblo was planning a celebration for its soldiers once they were allowed to return home.

“Homecoming soldiers to be warmly greeted by Pueblo,” read a headline in the Nov. 25 Chieftain. “Registration and memorial medals planned at committee meeting.”

 

Flu still in the news

The flu pandemic was still taking a backseat to the momentous news from Europe and the prohibition, yet it still was a critical issue.

On Nov. 25, the Chieftain reported 24 new cases were recorded and 28 homes were removed from quarantine. The following day, the numbers changed drastically.

“Because of the fact that several local doctors railed to send into the health office their report of new flu cases for Sunday, an increase in flu cases was consequently reported yesterday. Seventy new cases and 37 releases were the figures given out by the health office.”

 

Ex-soldier dies of flu

The Nov. 25 edition of the paper reported the death of “Robert E. lee, a discharged soldier from Camp Funston, who died at the city emergency hospital yesterday the result of an acute attack of influenza.”

 

Three more victims of flu reported

Reuben Taylor, Otto Leeper and Estolo M. Corgueda were reported to be the latest victims of influenza reported a brief item in the Nov. 29 Chieftain.

 

Manzanola woman dies of flu

“Miss Mabel M. Wallace, 33, died at a local hospital yesterday from influenza,” reported the Nov. 25 Chieftain. “She was taken ill Nov. 5 and brought to Pueblo from Manzanola for treatment.”

 

Proof of seriousness

How serious was the flu pandemic? Ads began appearing in The Chieftain in October and November of private hospitals for flu victims, ads like this one:

“GOT THE FLU?”

Call Fraternal Hospital, 1852 J.

Free ambulance. Bring your own physician. All cases handled. Terms reasonable.

 

Draft evader arrested – twice

Dennis Williams, 24, was arrested for evading the draft. The story he told police didn’t hold up for long, according to a story in the Nov. 23 Chieftain.

“An investigation showed that Williams enrolled in the Sept. 12, 1918 (draft) class. When he received his questionnaire, he reported that he was married and had a 5-year-old child and that they were dependent on him. He was duly put in the deferred classification.

“That would have worked, except his alleged wife called police and told them that although they were unmarried, they had been living together. That the five-year-old child was not his. The reason she called was because Williams had tired of her and, in fact, had married another woman.

“When confronted by the evident, Williams admitted his guilt.”

Williams was released on bail, but was later arrested again when he failed to appear in court.

 

Disaster barely averted

Members of Fire Hose No. 1 had a narrow escape from serious injury. They were on their way to a fire when, owing to the wet conditions of the streets, the fire wagon skidded in attempting to turn the corner of Seventh and Grand avenues.

“The only damage done was to one of the front wheels that was shattered when the wagon was forced to run against the curbing.”

The firemen likely needn’t have been called out.

“The fire in question was in a rooming house at 322 ½ South Union Avenue where an oil stove had caught fire.

“When the department arrived, a bedroom was found to be in flames and before it could be extinguished damage amounting to $75 was rendered.

“The occupant of the bedroom told the fire chief that as soon as he saw the stove on fire, he threw a blanket and other bed clothing over the stove and then called the department, otherwise, little damage would have been the result.”

 

Robbery case sewed up

A headline in the Nov. 28 Chieftain read: “Robbers of tailor cleverly captured.”

“A final solution to the robbery of the T. Tschmelitsch Tailor Shop, 610 N. Main St., was reached yesterday when three (men) were arrested by the police and held at the city jail for investigation as to their part in the robbery.

“The robbery was committed a week ago when the thieves, having gained entrance to the sop y breaking a glass window and opening a door, stole several coats and a few roils of suitings. An overcoat Also was reported missing.

“Yesterday the police received word that some suitings had been left at a tailor shop on north Santa Fe Avenue to be made up into suits. The police arrested the (men) who claimed they had purchased the cloth from two other (men). Last night, the police arrested Francisco Avila, who is said to have admitted that he was the one who robbed the shop. The fourth (man), the police are still searching for.”

 

Frigid November

Three stories involved how cold November 1918 was.

“November zero in Pueblo very rare,” read a headline in the Nov. 25 Chieftain.

“One degree below zero yesterday morning at 4:30,” the story said. “There have been but 11 November zero days in Pueblo since the establishment of a weather bureau here 30 years ago.”

“Unknown man found frozen to death under a rock ledge,” read a story in the Nov. 29 Chieftain.

“The body of an unknown man, approximately 60 years old, was found frozen yesterday morning under a cliff a half mile south of Goodnight. The body was found by Freeman Frazier, 14, while he was alone hunting rabbits.”

“Saved by thoughtful friends,” read another story in the Nov. 29 Chieftain. The story told about the kindness of friends and neighbors who saved an elderly man’s life.

“Thomas Woods, a bachelor, 80 years old, living alone in his homestead in Boggs Flatts, was found in a precarious condition and near death from being frozen Tuesday by County Commissioner George Herrington and Superintendent of Highways John Stamm.

“Woods, who always has lived by himself on his place, has been feeble for some time past and his condition was known among his neighbors and friends. Tuesday, Herrington thought of Woods and deciding to make a trip to see him, invited Stamm to accompany him. On the way to the homestead, the couple called at the home of Anthony Ruddy, a neighbor, who himself had thought of Woods and was preparing a hot dinner for him. The three men continued their way to Woods’ home.

“Receiving no response to their repeated knocking, the door was opened by Herrington and Woods was found lying in his bed half frozen. It was only after starting a good fire and giving Woods the hot dinner that he was revived sufficiently to talk to his kind friends.

“Realizing the danger that Woods would be in if left by himself, he was taken to the county farm where he will be cared for. Undoubtedly it was only the timely visit of the three men that prevented Woods from dying of exposure.”

mspence@chieftain.com