Catalog Number
Date of Origin
27 in.
Black and white photograph showing members of the Woman's Christian Temperence Union standing along 9th Street in front of the First Reformed Church.  White lettering at the center of the photo reads "Woman's Christian Temperence Union Fifth District/1876 1952/April 29, 1952/Holland Michigan".
None of the ladies in this photo are identified.

The following information comes from Robert Swierenga's three part history "Holland, Michigan: From Colony To Dynamic City", page 2037.

"The first women’s club in Holland was the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). This army of “white ribboners” began in 1877 with thirty members and a youth division called the Loyal Templars League. Hope Church hosted the regular meetings until 1885, when the Union purchased their own headquarters. Its members were predominantly members of Reformed, not Christian Reformed, churches, since temperance was an American-born movement and had little appeal to the more “Dutchy” church members. After national prohibition in 1919, the WCTU turned its attention to world peace and other issues."

and page 1450-1454

"The WCTU was the “first women’s mass movement,” an organization that by 1892 had nearly 150,000 dues-paying members. The Holland chapter, like the national body, promoted total abstinence, sponsored community events, and educated the youth on the evils of alcohol. It also held weekly meetings at Hope Church, the “college church” and the most Americanized of the city’s many Reformed congregations. The membership list of about thirty people reads like a roll call of Holland’s most well-known and influential: Anna Coatsworth (Mrs. Henry D.) Post, Catarina (Mrs. Isaac) Cappon, Anna (Mrs. Daniel) Bertsch, Heiltje (Mrs. Aldert) Plugger, Mary (Mrs. Charles A.) Dutton, Mary (Mrs. Otto) Doesburg, Sara (Mrs. Frank) Ledeboer, Jane (Mrs. George) Deming, Martha (Mrs. George E.) Kollen, Mrs. Marsh, Mrs. Charles L. King, and Hendrika (Mrs. Derk) Te Roller, among others. These upper class women took seriously their role in promulgating the temperance cause and their determination outdistanced that of the men. In 1880 Daniel Van Pelt, the pastor of Hope Church, questioned what had happened to the men’s Red-Ribbon Club. “Has it evaporated? Or have they fused with the WCTU, allowing the ladies to do the rough work, and keeping modestly back for fear of being seen.”37 That the female crusaders had clout became clear in 1878 when the Holland City News dedicated a column directly under the masthead to the WTCU. “This space belongs to the Women’s Christian Temperance Union,” declared editor Otto Doesburg. The first announcement of the weekly meeting quoted Proverbs 23: 29-32, with the scriptural text cleverly indented in the shape of a wine glass.38 Another strength of the temperance movement came from its diverse field of supporters who could “evangelize” all the different sections of society. Proponents included reformed sailors, businessmen, and working men. Reinder E. Werkman, who fell into the latter two categories and who described himself as “no professional temperance talker,” became enraged when a boarder that he had taken in and tried to set on a right course was sold alcohol at a local saloon. Werkman responded by distributing to the saloons a list of men who claimed to be drinking to the injury of themselves.39 Years later, the police department printed a black list of people to whom it was punishable by fine or imprisonment to sell liquor.40 Hope College also had its share of temperance men, including President Charles Scott, who in 1884 petitioned to limit the operating hours of saloons. Professor Theodore Romeyn Beck, a New York-born Reformed Church cleric, was one of the more outspoken critics of alcohol. In a series of articles in the Holland City News, Beck decried the evils of alcohol. It was neither food nor strength, he said, but a drug that led to apoplexy, idiocy, delirium, and childhood disease. One German immigrant couple, John F. “Fritz” Hummel, former owner of three leather companies in Holland, notably Cappon & Bertsch, and who entertained lavishly and often, was so disgusted with the talk of prohibition that he and his wife packed up their belongings and returned to Germany.41 In the spring of 1885, the consistory of Hope Church warned that patronizing saloons was “inconsistent with the interests and advancement of the cause of Christ.” On this point the Dutch American Christians could agree with the American Christians: the Sabbath must be protected. From this initial standpoint, the cause of Prohibition spread, and in the next two decades there was a rather noticeable change in the way many local Christians approached the alcohol issue. Many believed that alcohol and the Christian faith were incompatible. H. Bakker of Vriesland in 1885 asked rhetorically: “Drinking beer and
WCTU whisky and wanting to be a Christian, how does that go together?” Teunis Keppel asserted that saloons lie outside the path of a Christian.42 The temperance supporters pressured city lawmakers to increase the cost of a liquor license, which they did in 1877, to $300 a year for retailers, $500 for wholesalers, and $1,000 for druggists. Successive rises in the cost of both state and city licenses directly affected the number of saloons in the city, which dropped from a high of sixteen in 1877 to just three by 1887. All the while, it upset saloonkeepers greatly that druggists who sold liquor as medicine did not have to pay for a liquor license. The city tried to tax saloons to death, but it did not stop those who wanted alcohol from buying it, except on election days when all saloons were closed by law. Some argued that the loss of saloons negatively affected the city’s budget, since half the license fee went to the city (the other half went to the county). Figures from 1888 put Holland’s tax at $1,565, a figure substantially less than Grand Haven’s $5,100. Others argued that the common council would not prohibit saloons, because it was greedy for the money that came to the city treasury through the licenses and bonds. While the saloon license fee remained high and was a mystery to no one, the number of druggists who sold alcohol increased.43 When Michigan put a prohibition amendment on the state ballot in 1887, schoolteacher Marietta Shuler (Mrs. Owen) Van Olinda of Hope Church, a leading crusader, had fifty thousand temperance tracts printed in the Dutch language to sway Holland voters. The WTCU held an enthusiastic meeting in the Dutch language at Ninth Street Church. Without a dissenting vote, the attendees passed a resolution that “We, Holland Christians . . . cast our vote in favor of this [prohibition] amendment.” But De Grondwet, owned by the Leendert Mulder family who opposed prohibition, ridiculed the meeting and its one-sided vote and tried to paint some well-known participants as radicals. Mulder and his editor Isaac Verwey had their finger on the public pulse; Holland voted against prohibition 358 to 212. Van Olinda had taught in the First Reformed Church parochial school in 1860-61 (chapter 9), then in Union Public School, and from 1872 to 1878 in the Hope College grammar school and female department. She and Anna Post were leaders in the local temperance crusade.
By 1890 most churches in the city, including Reformed congregations, allowed temperance groups to meet on their premises. In a way, temperance, anti-saloon laws, and for some, even prohibition, had become unwritten church doctrine. Soon after the turn of the century, Hope Church, always in the lead of the anti-alcohol movements, allowed its name to be included on official petitions of the Anti-Saloon League. Mayor Germ Mokma considered it a “religious duty to absent himself from church occasionally to see if the saloons are closed.” One Sunday in late 1899, Mokma caught “several prominent businessmen” imbibing in James Selby’s liquor store on Eighth Street, and Selby was arrested. In 1908 the consistory of Central Avenue Christian Reformed Church resolved to censure any member “who to our knowledge frequents saloons.” So devoted to temperance were Marietta Van Olinda and Kate Garrod (Mrs. John C.) Post, both members of Hope Church, that the WCTU honored them with a life membership, the only two in Holland so recognized."
Gift of
Heuvelhorst, David