When the Book Comes Alive
My fascination with Jefferson Davis and his family is a result of research, hard writing, and my little book The Mysterious Life of Jim Limber which is being released by Progressive Rising Phoenix Press any day.
Research for the book, which I accomplished at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, took me beyond the politics and into the family. Varina Davis, wife of Confederate President and slaver, rescued a young freed orphan from abuse and took him into her home to live with her children. The boy called himself Jim Limber. For fourteen months he was part of the family while Varina documented his life with their children every day in letters, diaries and journals which I studied at the museum. Jim Limber was with them when the family fled Richmond. He was with them when they were arrested in Georgia. The horrendous journey through the rain and red mud, was documented by Varina, an accomplished writer. In her later years as widow, she supported herself writing for magazines.
Writers will tell you their characters come alive in their minds, hearts and souls. That happens even if the characters were real people and their story is biography. There is always another layer of personality, desire, fear, that is hidden from the public persona. I grew to appreciate Varina Davis as a strong and religious woman who lived through hardships in war-torn Richmond, a devoted wife, even while living her own opposing ideals. She was a loving mother whose empathy and compassion reached children beyond the limit of her family. She was unafraid of criticism in the press or ostracism from society.
The mystery of Jim Limber is where he came from and what became of him. I enjoyed writing his story and I hope my readers will embrace him and the Davis family with all their flaws and strengths 150 years ago.
The thirteen acre historical site is swamp and woodland. It looks just as Varina told it to me, and just as I wrote it. There is picnic tables,nature trails, playground and monument. The museum and bookstore was built at the site by the PWA in 1939. An 18-minute film introduces visitors to the plight of the South, the Lost Cause, and the capture. The bookstore plans to carry The Mysterious Life of Jim Limber, Avery’s Battlefield and Avery’s Crossroad. It’s located in Fitzgerald, GA, and is open Wednesday-Sunday, 9-5, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission is $4. Family dogs are welcome on leash.