Back at Beauvoir
Beauvoir, which means “beautiful to view,” is the last home of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy. Hurricane Katrina caused devastating damage here, but the Presidential Library has been rebuilt beautifully, and the museum house restored. There are pictures from the storm in the museum and one must wonder how they knew where to begin. Beauvoir is on US 90, across from the Mississippi Sound, and it is beautiful to view. Camels, horses, goats, chickens, turkeys, and peacocks wander around the grounds. Today they will be visited by 1000 school children who will learn about Jim Limber at my table. It’s Fall Muster at Beauvoir.
At every reenactment, including here, very few people know about Jim Limber, and if they’ve heard of him, they have a lot of misinformation.
In 1864, in Richmond, Virginia, Varina Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis, saw a small freed child, an orphan, being abused by his caretaker in the town. She came to his rescue and she took the boy home with her, not to be a servant, but to live with her children in the nursery, as a member of the family. Jefferson Davis took out guardianship papers, the closest there was to adoption, intending to raise him to the age of 18.
Fourteen months later the Confederacy collapsed and the Davis family fled Richmond. Jim was with them. He was still with them in Georgia when they were arrested, and still with them in Port Royal, SC, where they were put on the prison boat to go back to Washington. It’s here they parted company when Varina gave him to Brigadier General Rufus Saxton, a Union officer she had known in her earlier life, and told him to educate Jim and keep him safe.
Varina Davis was a wonderful writer. In her later years as a widow she supported herself writing for Pulitzer in New York. But, in this time, with a houseful of children, she wrote journals, diaries, and letters to friends and family. She wrote to her husband every day. These were intimate family letters, nothing to do with the war. For fourteen months we know everything Jim Limber did, said, wore, ate and played. It’s all in Varina’s own handwriting in the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond where I did my research.
The first third of my book is biography. The middle third is historical fiction; what might have happened to him during his adolescence. The final third is a choose-your-own-ending. There are three endings offered: romance, wild-west adventure, international intrigue. Then the suggestion that you, reader, know now who Jim Limber is, what do you think became of him? Write your own ending, send it to me, I’ll post it on my website, and you will be a published author!