Anna Mitchell Davenport – Co-Founder
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.
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.