I picked up a book in our library at the First White House of the Confederacy, Brierfield, Plantation Home of Jefferson Davis by Frank Edgar Everett, Jr. I am so glad it is still available on Amazon as it is a fascinating account.
I quote from the preface “Of the hundreds of plantation dwellings built in the South during the decades before the Civil War, none has had richer associations with men and history than Brierfield…Involved as it was with the aspirations and daily lives of its owners, the house was in a very special sense the tangible record of their personal victories and defeats”.
War, flood and fire have destroyed most of the physical evidences of Briefield, but its significance in Southern history continues to be felt, just as does our Museum House. We are so fortunate that the First White House has survived through all these many years. All that remains of Brierfield are some of the house pillars, and the chimney and fireplace.
This enchanting book contains photographs of the Davis plantation home as well as those of his brother, Joseph’s nearby home, Hurricane. It also tells about Jefferson and Sara Knox Taylor and their marriage, and then about his life with Varina.
Did you know his very last trip was to Brierfield and his last penned words were written there? On Nov 13, 1889 he had made a final pilgrimage from Beauvoir to Brierfield. As he was about to leave the house for the last time, Alice Desmaris, his plantation owner’s daughter timidly presented her album for his autograph and a sentiment. Davis thoughtfully wrote: “May all your paths be peaceful and pleasant, charged with the best fruit, the doing good to others”.
The author says, “Was this a message to one little girl, or was it a prayer for all the people he had known and served and led?” On December 6, 1889, Jefferson Davis, master of Brierfield, died in New Orleans.