Jefferson Davis descendant named director of Beauvoir

BILOXI — The great-great-grandson of Jefferson Davis is now the director of Beauvoir, the last home of the president of the Confederacy.

The Sun Herald reports Bertram Hayes-Davis accepted the keys to the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library Wednesday.

Former acting director Richard Forte Sr. will continue as chairman of the combined boards of directors and trustees.

Beauvoir is the hip-roofed, Gulf-front mansion where Jefferson Davis spent the last 12 years of his life and which was nearly swept away by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Davis’ widow, Varina Davis, left Beauvoir in 1891.

In a 2008 interview with The Associated Press, Hayes-Davis said he thinks it’s a shame that all most people know about him was that he fought to preserve slavery.

“It’s as if he created the entire institution and was solely responsible for it. And we struggle with that.” Hayes-Davis said in the interview.

Hayes-Davis has represented Davis’ family at various functions over the years.

Now as the home’s director, Hayes-Davis said his goal is to bring Beauvoir back to the national institution it was before Katrina. He has served as president of the Davis Family Association since 1976.

Hayes-Davis said he wants to make the public aware that Jefferson Davis was a West Point graduate, U.S. secretary of war, a U.S. senator and a regent at the Smithsonian Institution in addition to being the president of the Confederacy.

Hayes-Davis came to Beauvoir after serving as director of oil and gas management for JP Morgan in Dallas.

After the library opens this fall, Hayes-Davis said he and his wife, Carol, plan to invite authors and scholars from around the country to Beauvoir to discuss the Constitution, religion, states’ rights and other topics about which Davis was passionate.

They also plan to incorporate technology in the museum displays to engage all ages.

“We’re going to make this a destination, not only for the Gulf Coast, but the South and maybe even national,” he said.

Two more replica cottages will be built to house a banquet hall and a catering kitchen and they have plans for a spectacular Christmas.

Beauvoir has a $500,000 grant to recreate Varina’s large rose garden and vegetable garden in the original spot behind the house beginning this fall. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History is overseeing the project.

 

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