The Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) began as a local temperance movement in Ohio and New York in 1873, and formally organized the following year. Frances Willard became president in 1879, and the organization grew until it had more than 150,000 members. The WCTU joined with other temperance organizations to fight for prohibition at the local, state, and national levels. WCTU members advocated total abstinence from alcohol, and expressed concern about the harmful effects of drink on families and society in general. Many also supported rights for women, both inside and outside of the home. The efforts of the WCTU included marches, prayer, publications, and occasionally the destruction of saloons. The efforts of the WCTU and other temperance groups proved successful with the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1919. The influence and membership of the WCTU subsequently waned, particularly after the repeal of Prohibition in the 1930s. The organization, however, continues to exist to this day.
In the early 1900s, several WCTU chapters were organized in Florida. In 1905 a chapter known as the Magdalene Union was organized with Etta Mendenhall as president. The chapter was later renamed the Mendenhall Union.
Sunday Feb 26th 1905 Mrs C.S. Burnett Haney of Stuart Fla vice President of Florida W.C.T.U. lectured in the morning in Shiloh Church and in the evening in Mt Zion Church at each meeting she told of the work being done by the Womans Christian Temperance Union urged all to help by becoming members The following Wednesday March 1st A Parlor meeting was held at the home of Mrs A.M. Bearss at which 16 persons were present after a fuller explanation of the work and the duties of officers the following gave names. Mrs. A.M. (I.W.) Bearss Mrs. Gage Mrs Ollie Bears, Mrs Etta Mendenhall Mrs. Simmons, Mrs. Fanny Cox, Mrs. A. [?] H. Fletcher, Miss Sidney Fletcher, Miss Florence Robles, Mrs Clara Stale [?]. Mr Julian Fletcher Mrs Ed Mobley. The following officers were then Elected. President Mrs Mendenhall 1st vice Pres Mrs Fletcher 2nd vice Pres. Mrs Gage Cor Sec Mrs Ollie Bearss. Treasurer Mrs. over