Mrs. W. C. N. Merchant of Chatham
Helped Prompt WWI Hospital Funding

By Patricia B. Mitchell, October 2004.

Mrs. W. C. N. Merchant

Mrs. W. C. N. Merchant of Chatham, Virginia.

In The Women of the South in War Times (Revised Edition, 1924), author Matthew Page Andrews credited two Virginia women with leading a drive for supplementary funding for the American Hospital at Neuilly, a Paris suburb, during World War I.

At the United Daughters of the Confederacy convention in Chattanooga subsequent to the entry of the United States into the war, “Miss Nellie C. Preston, President of the Virginia Division, called attention to the work of the American hospital[s] in France, mentioning Neuilly above the others.”

UDC President-General Miss Mary B. Poppenheim of Charleston, South Carolina, responded by obtaining passage of a resolution establishing a bed at the hospital for an annual contribution from the UDC of $600.

Mrs. W. C. N. Merchant of Chatham, Virginia, suggested to the convention that the bed be named after Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, and her motion carried unanimously. That action prompted an outpouring of further response: UDC organizations from 36 states funded 70 additional beds, each honoring a Confederate leader.

“Among the names of Southern leaders who had beds endowed in their names in France were: Davis, Lee, Cleburne, Jackson, Gordon, the Johnstons, Richard Jackson, Beauregard, Mitchell, Vance, Heath, Semmes, Wheeler, Forrest, Hood, Price, Stephens, Breckenridge, Zollicoffer, Maury, Cabell, King, Hampton, McWhirter and Ryan.”

W. C. N. Merchant Home

The former home of Mr. and Mrs. W. C. N. Merchant, 226 Whittle Street, Chatham, Virginia.


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