The article was titled ” Fatal Accident – A son of President Davis killed by a fall” and reads: “about five o’clock on a Saturday afternoon, April 30, Joseph E. Davis, who had been playing about the yard earlier was missed, and in a short time he was found lying in an insensible condition on the brick area below the east portico of the residence, with his left thigh broken and a severe contusion on his forehead.”
The article goes on “The exact cause of the unfortunate accident is not known, but as there was a step-ladder leading from the area in the yard to the porch above, a distance of from fifteen to twenty feet, it is conjectured that he was standing near its top, and losing his balance, fell over into the yard below.” Funeral Services were held on May 1 from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
The Rice University Papers of Jefferson Davis report that Joe was an exceptionally bright child, who was named after Jefferson Davis’s brother Joseph, even though Varina protested, as she “deeply resented Joseph Davis”. Rumors persisted that the child was pushed by his older brother Jeff Jr., but there is no evidence to support this story. Little Joe was buried in Hollywood Cemetery “where the rest of his family would eventually be interred.”
This was just another terrible tragedy in the life of Jefferson Davis, whose four sons preceded him in death as well as his first wife after only three months of marriage.