The Papers of Jefferson Davis
The Papers of Jefferson Davis

Davis relaxing in Scotland, 1869 Mississippi Department of Archives and History



Samuel Emory Davis


The Davises' first child, Samuel Emory Davis, was born at Brierfield on July 30, 1852, and named for Davis' father. Just short of his second birthday, however, Samuel contracted the measles and died in Washington on June 13. He may have been exposed to the disease by Varina's brother Becket, who had stayed with the Davises while his school was closed in late May due to a measles epidemic.

 The only known likeness of Samuel is a bust, now at Beauvoir, that miraculously survived destruction when Union troops pillaged Davis' belongings in 1863. Joseph E. Davis had hidden the property in the attic of a home near Clinton, Mississippi, but a slave gave away the location, and the Federals ransacked the furniture, letters, and books they discovered. The man left to care for the home managed to save the bust of Samuel by claiming that the image was of one of his own children.

For more information on Samuel, see Volumes 4 and 5 of The Papers of Jefferson Davis. A letter from the caretaker who rescued the bust of Samuel in 1863 appears in Volume 9, pp. 298-303.

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