History of Local Temperance Movement
By Amy Leiser, Executive Director
Monroe County Historical Association
As early as the 1830s, Monroe County citizens became concerned with the effects of alcohol on the community. Public drunkenness and disorderly conduct were becoming more prominent. The Monroe County Temperance Union was founded in 1836 with Daniel Stroud serving as the organization’s leader. Under Stroud’s administration, the Temperance movement grew to 316 members in two years.
Ultimately, members of the Monroe County Temperance Union, like temperance advocates elsewhere, wanted to do more then simply curtail alcohol use; they wanted alcohol removed completely from society. The group changed their name to the “Total Abstinence Society” and worked for their goal of total prohibition. The group met at various locations throughout Stroudsburg, including the Stroudsburg Presbyterian Church, the Stroudsburg Methodist Church, and the Stroud Mansion.
Daniel Stroud lived in the Stroud Mansion until 1837 when he moved to a new house across Main Street in Stroudsburg. Stroud rented the mansion to Joseph Snyder who quickly opened the “Stroud Mansion Tavern,” which served alcohol. An embarrassed Daniel Stroud quickly terminated Snyder’s lease and rented the building to the temperance-minded Malvin Brothers, who opened “The Temperance House.”
Throughout the 1840s and 1850s, the Total Abstinence Society promoted an alcohol-free life through programs, public speeches, gatherings, and parades. In 1842, 1843 and 1848, the group participated in Independence Day festivities. Independence Day celebrations, according to the Society, had become reason for drunken brawls. Members targeted school-aged children and Sunday school groups to march in the parades to support total abstinence.
By 1874, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) formed to continue the efforts of the Total Abstinence Society. The Monroe County chapter of the WCTU had roughly 50 ladies and grew increasingly influential locally. Ladies of the WCTU wore white ribbons to show their support. In 1907, one of the projects of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union was to erect a public water-drinking fountain in Stroudsburg “where thirsty man or beast may have a drink of pure water without question or price is apparent on the slightest thought.” This stone structure was intended to benefit not only residents, but visitors to Stroudsburg as well.
The ladies, led by Mrs. Mary Erdman, approached the Stroudsburg Borough Council for land for the fountain. The Council met the request with favor and granted use of an area around Courthouse Square, and the water company provided the water for free.
In the 1920’s, four Monroe County residents wrote songs promoting the Temperance Movement. W.F. Bryan wrote The Vision in 1925, A.G. Fable wrote Saloons Must Go, the reverend W.G. Nyce wrote Monroe County Dry!, and Alma W. Mosier (Treible) wrote The Temperance Call.
The temperance movement continued into the 1940s when retired Barrett school teacher and strong prohibitionist Samuel K. Schoonover died on October 20, 1943. In reviewing his Last Will and Testament, Schoonover’s will had the usual provisions, including paying off his debts, maintaining his burial plot, and erecting a headstone. Schoonover’s will also established the Susan Rouse Schoonover Endowment Fund at Stroudsburg High School in honor of his grandmother. Money from this fund was to be used to pay the principal’s salary with the stipulation that the school purchase 10 copies of the temperance novel, Ten Nights in a Barroom by Timothy Shay Arthur. Ten Nights in a Barroom was first published in 1854, and tells of the downfalls and tragedies individuals, families, and society in general face if alcohol is permitted to be consumed.
The 10 copies of these books were “to be the first purchase from the Susan Rouse Schoonover fund. Ten copies are to be permanently kept in good condition for the use of all Stroudsburg pupils able to read.” Stroudsburg High School still maintains the 10 copies of the book.
The stone fountain erected by the Monroe County Chapter Women’s Christian Temperance Union still stands today at Courthouse Square. While water no longer flows and the fountain now holds flowers, the granite fountain is a reminder of the conviction of Monroe County’s citizens to rid the county of “the evils of alcohol.”