To celebrate the organization’s 125th anniversary and their accomplishments, members of the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy last week gathered at the base of their Confederate monument that stands in the center Public Square in downtown Franklin.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy was established in 1894 in Nashville as a means of bringing together the numerous women’s organizations that worked throughout the South during the Civil War to supply the needs of soldiers and afterward aid in cemetery care, monument erections and providing for the needs of injured soldiers and their families.
Caroline Meriwether Goodlett of Tennessee and Anna Davenport Raines of Georgia created the National Association of the Daughters of the Confederacy in September 1894. A year later, the name was changed to United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Cynda Ferguson, Franklin Chapter 14 president, said that the local the United Daughters of the Confederacy chapter held its first meeting on Oct. 30, 1895, in the home of Sally Gaut — which is now the home of Shuff’s Music — on Third Avenue North.
Since that time, the UDC’s objectives have broadened to include preserving a truthful history of the South, preserving and protecting historic places and documents that tell the story, performing benevolent works and promoting American patriotism and good citizenship.
“We were born daughters of the Confederacy,” said Marlane Holmes, past Chapter 14 president. “We came into this world with the blood of a soldier running through our veins. Our heritage is rich in honor and it’s ours to cherish, nurture and pass along. It is our birthright, and we are obliged to protect the heritage and true history of the South and Southern womanhood.”
The group’s first project in 1895 was to raise money for a monument to the honor the men who participated in the Battle of Franklin and those who died during the Civil War. The group raised more than $2,700 to purchase and erect a 37-foot, 8-inch monument. The Italian marble statue depicts a Confederate soldier at parade rest.
“My grandfather fought in World War I, my dad fought in World War II and my son is entering the military,” said Elizabeth Coker. “My ancestors fought in the Civil War. One son fought with Company B, 12th Kentucky Cavalry in Harrisburg, and his body was never found. This monument is the headstone for all those who don’t have marked graves we can visit. It’s important to a lot of us who lost family in the war and don’t have a grave to visit.”
The short ceremony included adorning a memorial wreath with a rose for each of the first members of Chapter 14 and placing a patriotic bow on the cannon pointed at City Hall and is named for the late Virginia Colley McDaniel Bowman, who was a member of Chapter 14 and a longtime county historian. She died in 2018 at age 94.