As the reality of the United States entering World War I
grew the National League of Women’s Services was established in January
1917. Their mission was to assist soldiers,
veterans, war workers, and their families on the home front. They worked closely with the Red Cross to
collect supplies and send care packages abroad. They also coordinated and supported Liberty
|The local National League of Women’s Services office was located on the
2nd floor of Miss Florence Kern’s Variety Store in Brevard.
The first mention of a local branch of the National
League of Women’s Services was found in the May 25, 1917 issue of the Brevard
News. It states that several women have
joined the organization and Mrs. Elizabeth Mount Silversteen was appointed chairman. Mrs. Silversteen also compiled a record
of service for all Transylvania soldiers and worked with family members to
ensure that they received benefits due to them.
The group’s first fundraiser was the sale of a beautiful
imported doll donated by Bon Marche of Asheville and dressed by Mrs. Goode
Cheatham. Money raised went to purchased
supplies to make items for soldiers.
In early September 1918 it was reported that a box with 130 pairs of
hand-knit woolen socks was sent to the Atlanta Red Cross office to be shipped
to France for American soldiers. It was
the twenty-ninth box from Transylvania County for the year.
The Transylvania Branch of the National League of Women’s
Services was particularly active in the area of food conservation and
preservation. They strongly encouraged
all women of the community to do their part by canning and drying fruits and
vegetables. A March 1, 1918 Brevard News
article states, “It is estimated that over 15,000 pounds of food was conserved
in this community last summer through the direct efforts of the league.” A well-stocked comfort kit was provided for every
Transylvanian who entered military service.
In addition to food items, the kits contained warm sweaters knitted by
members of the league.
|Margaret Deaver, Elizabeth Shipman, Madge Whitmire, Beulah Zachary
(front row) and Rowena Orr, Dorothy Silversteen, Adelaide Silversteen,
Martha Breese (back row) knit items for the Red Cross to be sent to soldiers.
Many of the women actively involved with the National
League of Women’s Services were also members of local women’s clubs. Women from two of these clubs raised
$183.62 for the Red Cross, bought $6925 worth of Liberty Bonds, and $130 worth
of War Savings Bond. They also helped
organize the Third Liberty Loan Drive and won the Honor Flag for Brevard.
Another group that helped support the war effort was the
Victory Girls. These young girls pledged
to “earn and give five dollars” to support the war. They put on numerous productions and
entertainments to raise the money. Mary
Jane King was the director of the Victory Girls in Transylvania County.
Photographs and information for this column are provided
by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library.
Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more
about our history and see additional photographs. For more information,
comments, or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected]