The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports


April 6, 2013

Oneontans voted for a 'dry' city in 1918


The sentiment in daily commentaries was very similar each day leading up to a citywide vote on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 16-17. Mass dry meetings were held on Sunday, April 12 at the First Presbyterian and First Methodist churches.

What appeared to be only a single paid ad against going dry appeared in the Star on Wednesday, April 10. It had a title, “WHY? A Challenge To The Drys.” It asked 12 questions, the last being, “WHY haven’t you told the people that they are being asked to Prussianize themselves by adopting your despotic dogma? BECAUSE YOU DARE NOT.” It was signed by F.S. Pattridge, Oneonta.

When residents went to the polls, they had four decisions to make. It was a yes or no on whether to sell liquor to be consumed on the premises where sold, selling liquor not to be consumed on the premises where sold, selling liquor as a pharmacist on a physician’s prescription and selling liquor by hotel keepers only.

The Star described the first day of voting on Wednesday as having a heavy turnout. “The weather was considered favorable for the drys, the number of elderly women who appeared being large. Motor cars were kept busy flying all about the city and the wets even sent a car to the county farm to bring three voters,” presumably as city residents, “two of whom it is said, have spent money enough for booze to support them a considerable time.”

By the time voting ended on Thursday, the results on all four questions were decisive majorities, all dry. Binghamton, Norwich, Cortland, Ithaca and Elmira joined Oneonta in going dry. The closest places one could still purchase alcohol were Little Falls, Rome, Syracuse and Schenectady.

The cities voting to go dry had to cease selling alcohol as of Oct. 1, 1918. Those remaining wet cities and towns had about another year before the Volstead Act took effect.

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