After the War and his incarceration and subsequent release, Jefferson Davis temporarily lost his home in Mississippi, most of his wealth and his U.S. citizenship. The Davis family traveled in Europe and Canada as he sought employment.
For a few years the couple seemed to go through some pretty rough times in their relationship, and to live apart more than together. By 1877 he was bereft of any prospects of employment, nearly bankrupt, and suffering from a variety of illnesses. He had been advised by doctors to take a home near the sea for his health but he lacked funds to do so. Thus he accepted an invitation to visit Sarah Dorsey, a widowed heiress, who owned a home (Beauvoir) in Biloxi on the Miss. Gulf Coast. Varina’s letters to Jefferson at this time indicate that she thought this very inappropriate!!! I would too!!!
She did join him there eventually however, after the death of their last surviving son, and gradually made friends with Mrs. Dorsey in the grieving process. In 1878 Mrs. Dorsey agreed to sell Beauvoir to the Davis, and when she died the next year she left them free title to the home, and much of the remainder of her estate. This left them enough financial security to enjoy some comfort in their final years of marriage.
Jefferson died in 1889, and Varina and their daughter Winnie moved to New York City in 1891, when she become a full time columnist with Pulitzer. Sadly, Winnie died in 1898.
Varina died at the age of 80 of double pneumonia in her room at the Majestic Hotel. She was survived by only one of her six children, Margaret Davis Howell, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.She was interred with full honors performed by Confederate veterans at Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond adjacent to the tomb of her famous husband and daughter Winnie.