Sunday, January 5, 2020

The WCTU and Anna Lee Waller

The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was founded in Ohio in 1874.  At its peak it had about 400,000 members.  Today it is down to less than five thousand.  The WCTU came from the period when Carry Nation and other woman armed themselves with Bibles and marched into Saloons to stop the sale of liquor.  It’s name speaks of its primary goal; prohibition of alcohol.  The name also spells out “Woman’s” rather than “Women’s Christian Temperance union.  Because it is the individual woman who takes the temperance pledge.

However it has never been a one issue organization.  It has been involved in educating and working legally to correct women labor laws, abstinence from tobacco, Public health, gambling, abortion, sanitation, prostitution, dress reform, and a range of other woman’s related issues
In Delaware the WCTU begin in Wilmington in 1874.  This grew into a number of local unions forming the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union of Delaware in 1880.  The membership reached its peak in about 1923.
above 1930
The WCTU and Delmar were often mentioned from the 1920s to the 1940s due to Mrs. Anna Lee Waller (1871-1944).  She was president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union of Delaware for 15 years, ceasing to be President only because of her death in 1944. The Delmar union of the WCTU was formed sometime in the 1920s.  Anna Lee Rickard Waller was born in Harrington, Delaware to William H. and Mary Jones Rickard.  She married Harlan Mark Waller a railroad man in 1889.  They lived at 701 Jewell St in Delmar.  She had two sons; Herbert Lee and John Mark.  Both grew to adulthood, married and had children but both died in 1919 from the Spanish influenza.  Her husband died in 1933 of a heart attack with 38 years with the Railroad.  The family is buried in St Stephens cemetery.  Mrs. Waller was a clubwoman and officer of a number of organizations and Sunday school. 
above 1924  Note; photo from Ellis Studio (William Shewell Ellis) which was a Wilmington/Philadelphia/Baltimore  photography studio
The Delmar Union continued on well into the 1950s.  It sponsored a number of state WCTU conventions in Delmar.

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