Born in Glasgow, Scotland, McKechnie studied nursing at the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia (later Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania), and went to Shanghai in 1884 with the Woman’s Union Missionary Society of America. In Shanghai, McKechnie worked with Elizabeth Reifsnyder at the Margaret Williamson Hospital. The hospital, which opened in 1885, was the third in China established to serve women and children exclusively and it was financed, staffed, and administered by women. In time, other American nurses joined them, Chinese nurses were trained, and McKechnie became head nurse. In 1896 she left the hospital and the mission to marry E. H. Thomson, a prominent leader in the Shanghai American Episcopal Mission. She continued to assist the hospital with her outside connections. McKechnie retired to the United States in 1917 after the death of her husband.
This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.
Chinese Recorder 16 (1884): 237; Margaret Williamson Hospital: 1885-1935 (1935); The Missionary Link 92, no. 6 (1961; WUMS centenary issue).