Caroline Meriwether Goodlett, Founder
& Anna Davenport Raines, Co-Founder
Caroline Douglas Meriwether Goodlett was born on November 3, 1833, just over the Tennessee-Kentucky line at the Meriwether family home "Woodstock" in Todd County, Kentucky. She was the daughter of Charles Nicholas and Caroline Huntley Barker Meriwether.
On December 3, 1853, Caroline married John Sturdevant of Christian County, Kentucky. After her marriage, Caroline's father gave her three hundred acres of land near "Woodstock" but in Montgomery County, Tennessee. On it was a large comfortable two-story log house in which he had lived before he built Woodstock. The couple had one child, Charles James, but unfortunately the marriage was not a happy one and the couple separated.
As soon as the War started, Caroline's brother Edward enlisted. After Edward was killed on December 28, 1861, at Scaramento, Kentucky, Caroline put everything aside and applied all of her energies to aid the South. She converted her large tobacco barns into rooms where the women of the neighborhood met to sew, knit, and make bandages and clothing for the soldiers. She also nursed and cared for wounded soldiers that were brought to her home until they could be moved to a hospital. An excellent horsewoman, she would often mount one of her thoroughbreds and carry medicine and supplies through the Federal lines.
After the War, Caroline obtained a divorce, had her maiden name restored and had her son's name changed to Meriwether. Ready to start life anew, she sold her land, stock and some household furnishings and she and her son moved to Nashville, Tennessee.
Through the years following the War, Caroline continued working with various Confederate veterans' organizations. In 1866 the Benevolent Society was organized for the purpose of securing funds for artificial limbs for Confederate veterans. Realizing the South's everlasting debt of gratitude to the "Confederate Veteran," she persevered until the first old soldiers home was established in Nashville, followed by hundreds of others throughout the country, where care and comfort were provided for the helpless.
It was largely through her efforts that the state deeded part of the Hermitage tract for a home for needy Confederate soldiers. In 1870 the Confederate women of Nashville organized a Memorial Association and bought a lot in Mount Olivet Cemetery, where they buried the remains of Confederate soldiers in the vicinity of Nashville. Caroline was a charter member of the Board of the Confederate Monumental Association that erected a monument over the Confederate soldiers buried in the circle.
In 1869 Caroline met and married Colonel Michael Campbell Goodlett, a Confederate veteran and a widower with four children. The couple's only child, Caroline Barker Goodlett, was born on October 3, 1871. Caroline’s son, Charles James, had just graduated from Vanderbilt University and she had just set him up in business when he died at the age of twenty-five.
In 1890, "The Auxiliary of the Confederate Soldiers' Home" was organized in Tennessee and Mrs. Goodlett was elected President.
The Auxiliary's aims were benevolent and social; it helped support the Confederate Soldiers home in Davidson County, Tennessee, and tried to help the widows, wives and children of the Confederate veterans. Gradually, the Auxiliary began to operate as "Daughters of the Confederacy," and on May 10, 1892, the following notice appeared in the Nashville American newspaper: "At a meeting of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Confederate Home yesterday, it was decided to change the name to 'Daughters of the Confederacy."' The names of the various officers were listed with Mrs. Goodlett as the State President.
During all the years following the War, Mrs. Goodlett had dreamed of an organization which would have as one of its objectives that of keeping alive the sacred principles for which Southern men and boys fought so bravely. This dream became a reality when the National Daughters of the Confederacy was organized on September 10, 1894, and she was elected its first President. When the Tennessee Division was organized on January 28, 1896, Mrs. Goodlett was elected its first president and served two years.
In 1905, the title of "Founder" of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was conferred upon Mrs. Goodlett at the General Convention in San Francisco.
In her declining years, members of Nashville Chapter 1, to which she belonged, came to see her after every meeting with a full report not only on the Chapter but on the Organization in general.
Little is known about the last few years of Mrs. Goodlett. At the time of her death she was living in Nashville with a relative of Colonel Goodlett who saw to her every need.
Mrs. Goodlett died on October 16, 1914. She is buried in the family lot in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee, near the Confederate Circle where 1,492 Confederate Soldiers rest. One month after her death a letter she had written to be read at the General Convention in Savannah appeared in the Nashville Tennessean and read in part:
Unknown to Caroline Meriwether Goodlett in 1894, there was in the ravaged state of Georgia a fine Confederate woman, Anna Mitchell Davenport Raines, who was just as dedicated to the Confederate veterans as she.
|"It is my earnest prayer that it (United Daughters of the Confederacy) may continue to be the crowning glory of Southern womanhood to revere the memory of those heroes in gray and to honor that unswerving devotion to principle which has made the Confederate Soldier the most majestic figure in the pages of history."
- Fraternally yours,
- Caroline Meriwether Goodlett
- Founder of UDC
Anna Mitchell Davenport was born on April 8, 1853, at Isle of Hope, Savannah, Georgia. Her parents were Major Hugh McCall Davenport and Martha Anne Elizabeth Stone. A mere child when the War began at Ft. Sumter, by the age of ten she was taking food and bandages to the Confederate hospitals and soldiers' camps in Savannah. In 1864, General Sherman ordered all officers' families out of the city and Mrs. Davenport with her children refugeed first in Augusta, then Atlanta. The family was in Macon when Lee surrendered. After Major Davenport's homecoming from Virginia, the family returned to Savannah for a short time, then moved to New York.
Anna married Lucian Hamilton Raines on February 11, 1873. Five children were born to the couple: Martha Stone Raines, Richard Mitchell Raines, Lucian Hamilton Raines, Jr., Mary Judson Raines, and Davenport Raines. Two, Lucian Hamilton, Jr. and Mary Judson, did not live to adulthood.
Throughout the days of Reconstruction, Mrs. Raines' devotion to her native state and section deepened as her people passed through the experiences of that unhappy era.
In 1892, the Confederate Veterans' Association of Savannah issued a call to the ladies of the city to form an auxiliary to their organization. Mrs. Raines was one of those who responded and she was elected Secretary of the Ladies Auxiliary.
Realizing that as an auxiliary to the veterans their reason for existence would pass away with the death of the veterans, Anna suggested at the December 1893 meeting of the Society that they form themselves into a permanent organization with wider aims and scope and change their name to "Daughters of the Confederacy." The suggestion met with the approval of the members and she was empowered to secure a charter. This was done and Mrs. Raines was elected the first President.
At the time, Mrs. Raines was unaware that there was another society bearing the name "Daughters of the Confederacy." A few weeks later she saw an article in the newspaper giving an account of a dinner that had been served at the Soldiers' Home in Nashville, Tennessee, by the Daughters of the Confederacy. On April 18, 1894, she wrote a letter to ask whether the Savannah auxiliary could use this name or would this be an infringement upon their rights. Not knowing whom to write, she addressed her letter to "The President, Daughters of the Confederacy." It was Caroline Meriwether Goodlett who replied to her letter, stating that they were simply organized as an auxiliary to their Soldiers' Home and that the Georgia Daughters had a perfect right to use the name "Daughters of the Confederacy" as the ladies of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri had local societies by the same name.
Thus began the greatest women's organization devoted to the Southern ideals and respect and pride in their Southern ancestry.
Mrs. Raines promptly replied to Mrs. Goodlett's letter, outlining her project of a federation of all Southern Women's Auxiliary, Memorial, and Soldiers' Aid Societies into one grand united society, and invited the Tennessee Society to unite with the Georgia Society as a beginning. The ladies of Nashville responded heartily.
An invitation was published in all of the leading papers, addressed to the women of the South, and a convention was called to meet in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 10, 1894, which resulted in the organization of the "National Daughters of the Confederacy." Nashville Chapter was made No. 1 and Savannah Chapter No. 2. Mrs. Goodlett was elected President and Mrs. Raines First Vice President. A Constitution and Bylaws that set forth the purposes of the society and provided for the formation of chapters was submitted by Mrs. Raines, along with a design for a membership badge (Insignia), and both were adopted.
At the Second Annual Convention held in Atlanta, Georgia, in November of 1895, the name of the organization was changed to "United Daughters of the Confederacy." Mrs. John C. Brown of Nashville, though not present, was elected President and Mrs. Raines was elected First Vice President. On May 12, 1896, Mrs. Brown resigned as President and Mrs. Raines "unassumingly assumed the duties of that office, and pursued them with the single-heartedness of the true patriot, desiring neither credit nor reward." Immediately after Mrs. Brown's resignation, Mrs. Isabella M. Clarke, the Secretary, left for a trip to Europe leaving Mrs. Raines to hold the three offices for the remainder of the year.
Mrs. Raines refused to accept the presidency at the next convention and gave two recommendations which made a lasting impression upon the organization. First, a plea that funds not be left idle in the treasury but busy in well selected work; second, that they give careful consideration to the importance of rotating officers and not allowing one person to hold more than one job at a time.
No truer estimate of Mrs. Raines's life and character can be given than by quoting her own words when closing her yearly report to the third annual convention in Nashville: "Let me thank you for your patience and ask in all the discussions that may arise, you will ever keep the holiness of our work before you, remembering we are not a body of discontented suffragists thirsting for oratorical honors, but a sisterhood of earnest womanly women, striving to fulfill the teachings of God's word, in honoring our fathers." Mrs. Raines was a charter member of Savannah Chapter 2 and its first president. In 1895, with the assistance of Mrs. C. Helen Plane, she organized the Georgia Division and was elected First Vice President. In 1905 she was elected an Honorary President of General. In 1912 the General Organization presented her with an enlarged UDC Insignia set with diamonds and rubies and an elegant silver service in loving appreciation of her service to the organization.
Mrs. Raines died on January 21, 1915, three months after Mrs. Goodlett. She is buried in the family plot in Laurel Grove Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia.
At special services during the Annual General Convention in 1960, a plaque was unveiled in the Library dedicating it to Mrs. Caroline Meriwether Goodlett, Founder of the organization, and a similar plaque was unveiled in the Business Office dedicating it to Mrs. Anna Davenport Raines, Co Founder of the Organization.
September 1994 UDC Magazine
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Caroline Meriwether Goodlett
Anna Davenport Raines