Monday, June 9, 2014


March 4

I went up to see Beauvoir, the home in which Jefferson Davis spent the last years of his life. Much of it had been destroyed by Katrina, right down to the dishes and other such pieces. Much had been lost.
Some of what was in the main building survived although the roof was torn off and rain ruined things. A portion of the documents survived because they were on the second floor of the library building and so were no damaged.
This affects how much of the rooms of the house are furnished anywhere like the original. Unlike the Carl Sandburg house where things were left just as if he went out for a stroll and even the places he had bookmarked for reference in his library were still bookmarked and the goat farm his wife ran still had goats descended from hers, most of the pieces in this museum were simply period pieces, interesting, but things that had nothing to do with the Davis family.
One ironic twist is the the hurricane revealed that the colors on the walls and ceilings had yellowed so much overtime with sun and wind and tobacco that little of what was originally painted existed in previous renovations. After Katrina they went back and painted it exactly as had the painter Mallard for the first owners, the James Brown family. So that was pretty exciting. I can see how that much have interested the artist mind of Nancy who said she enjoyed the tour.
The Browns sold and the house was sold again to come in to the hands of a woman who at first rented one of the small cottages to Jefferson Davis as a place to write his memoirs. These two cottages were originally built by James Brown, one to serve as a school house for his 13 children and the other to be used by itinerant Methodist ministers. One of these Davis used as a study library and later that attracted him and he bought the whole place as his retirement home.
After his death, his wife and daughter Winnie moved away to New York City. They had little money in those days. A classmate of Winnie's bought the place and kept it from falling into total disrepair, finally arranging for the Sons of the Confederacy to buy it for a veterans home for Confederate soldiers and their wives and then as a memorial to Jefferson Davis and the confederacy.
So it is today.
At first I thought that my people were totally on the other side, but I remembered that my grandmother's people included a Southern Belle who encountered a Yankee soldier during the war. She pelted him with apples from an apple tree where she had climbed and one thing led to another. They fell in love and decided to marry. Her father disowned her.
Winnie had a Yankee lover as well and was to marry, but the strain of it was to be so hard on her father that she called it off. Perhaps the fellow was Wendell Phillips. Neither of them ever married. So much is lost in taking sides.
In the cemetery behind the house are all the graves of those old confederate soldiers who ended their lives in this old folks home. Some were black. One featured in the video had been captured by the union and then fought on that side. To hear it told this old fellow claimed never to have fought for the Yankees except under duress.
One 76 year old woman married a 94 year old man in the home. He was her eighth husband.
“If God is going to continue to take them then so will I,” she announced.
It made it even sadder that Winnie had not married.
One of Davis' daughters dies at 34 of an intestinal disease picked up in Egypt. We saw the fine tapestry she brought back from that trip and enjoyed for three years after. So many seemed to sicken by going traveling abroad in those days that it is amazing they risked it. However, I don't suppose they really understood the risk. Most of illness was left to the decision of God in those days. It wasn't like people could do anything about it.
The video was great showing footage of the old confederacy reunion in 1930 when all the old boys got to wear their uniforms, march, ride their horses and carry the reb flag and just have a grand old time remembering the war and dancing with women in old Southern belle huge skirts.
How much we want always to hold on to the old days even after failure.

They quoted Davis as hoping that everyone would unite as one country. He was never allowed to be a citizen again and died a man without a country. For three years after the was he was in prison and for part of that was shackled.

But I guess in this grand house he had a fine old age except for feeling perhaps a failure.

I was interested to learn that the beach which is being rebuilt after Katrina was not built at all until the 1950's. Before that the trees went all the way to the water. I'll bet having a beach does not help protect from future hurricanes.

Old Jeff and me had a bit of lunch together before the house tour. I had Sami's wrap with cheese. I don't know what Jeff had. Maybe peabread.

James Brown built this house for his wife and thirteen children. One the small cottages was used as a school for the kids. The other was used by itinerant methodist ministers. Davis first got interested in the house because he rented one of these cottages to write his memoirs.

Pieces in side were interesting but this is not historical in the sense that the rooms looked like this when Jeff Davis owned and used the house. So much was destroyed by the hurricane that period pieces fill in where most originals may have been.

this was a ceiling detail. The hurricane actually helped them restore the walls and ceiling to the original. They studied the paint and did it just as it was when first painted. Time had changed the colors of the walls as they were viewed before the hurricane.

This lamp is an original of the Davis household

This rocker was built fro twins and has nothing to do with the Davis household. It was donated the they all thought it was very interesting.

This was Winnie's doll. It is original

Behind the house is a cemetery of old verterans and their widows who spent their last days at the soldier's home.

Every war tried to grieve the unidentified. Here is a grave of the unknown soldier.

Also every war wants to glorify the soldiers and their cause. This is such an ironic glorification with racism built right in the first part and incredible refusal to feel any moral guilt in the second.

I want to add
"Let those of you without sin........"
just to put war in the right moral perspective which is at best a necessary evil.

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