Varina Davis

Varina Anne Davis (1864 - 1898)

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Varina Anne "Winnie" Davis
Born in Richmond, Richmond, Virginia, USAmap
Ancestors ancestors
[spouse(s) unknown]
[children unknown]
Died in Narragansett, Washington, Rhode Island, USAmap
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Profile last modified | Created 17 Nov 2008 | Last significant change: 4 Jan 2019
18:20: Susan Smith edited the Biography for Varina Anne Davis (1864-1898). [Thank Susan for this]
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Varina Anne “Winnie” Davis BIRTH 27 Jun 1864 Richmond, Richmond City, Virginia, USA DEATH 18 Sep 1898 (aged 34) Narragansett Pier, Washington County, Rhode Island, USA BURIAL Hollywood Cemetery Richmond, Richmond City, Virginia, USA PLOT Section Lawn Lot A MEMORIAL ID 6662416 ·


Born in the Confederate White House and named for her mother, Varina Anne was the youngest of the Davis children. She was known for most of her life as "Winnie," a nickname her father had first bestowed on her mother. According to Varina Anne, she was told that "Winnie" was "an Indian name meaning bright, or sunny" (Davis Papers, 8:169).

Winnie received her early education from her mother during the family's postwar travels, and subsequently was enrolled in boarding schools in Karlsruhe, Germany, and in Paris. She inherited her mother's literary interests and later authored a biographical monograph (1888) and two novels (1888, 1895), all published under the name Varina Anne Jefferson Davis.

"The Daughter of the Confederacy," as John B. Gordon anointed her in 1886, lived with her parents at Beauvoir in the 1880s and accompanied her father to numerous public appearances. Beloved by veterans' groups, she became an icon of the Lost Cause.

The adoration became a burden when Winnie fell in love with Alfred C. (Fred) Wilkinson, a Syracuse, New York, attorney whose grandfather had been a leading abolitionist. Public turmoil created by the five-year romance drove Winnie into periods of deep emotional distress. The couple finally received the blessings of both Jefferson and Varina Davis and were briefly engaged in 1890. Although their breakup has always been blamed on the public outcry, recent investigation seems to indicate that it was due more to questions about Wilkinson's financial situation.

Winnie moved to New York City with her mother in 1891 and continued her literary pursuits. She contracted "malarial gastritis" while visiting in Rhode Island and died at age thirty-four. In keeping with her status among ex-Confederates, she was buried with full military honors at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Varina Anne "Winnie" Davis (June 27, 1864 – September 18, 1898) was an American author who was most known as the youngest daughter of President Jefferson Davis of the Confederate States of America and Varina (Howell) Davis.
The youngest, she was the only child of the family who was allowed to visit her father in Fort Monroe with her mother during his two years of imprisonment that followed the Civil War.
At the age of thirteen, she was sent to the Misses Friedländers School in Karlsruhe, Germany. She studied for five years in the renowned boarding school, in that time acquiring a slight German accent. Later, she studied in Paris for a short while before returning to the United States.
In 1888, Winnie published her first book, a monograph of Irish revolutionary Robert Emmet entitled An Irish Knight of the 19th Century.
In 1887, Davis developed a more serious relationship with Alfred Wilkinson, a successful New York attorney, whom she met while staying with family friends in Syracuse during the late fall of 1886, and the engagement of the couple was announced in 1889.Jefferson Davis died shortly before the announced wedding date, and mourning custom required postponing the nuptials for a year. During this time, Wilkinson's house burned down. Winnie's mother Varina became opposed to the marriage. Her Southern friends considered the relationship an insult to the Davis legacy. More importantly, her husband had left the widowed Varina in financial difficulties, and she worried that Wilkinson would be unable to support Winnie. This concern was incorrect, but the damage was done. The engagement was ended in October 1890.


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Varina Anne “Winnie” Davis

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No known carriers of Varina's ancestors' mitochondrial DNA have taken an mtDNA test and no close relatives have taken a 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or Family Tree DNA "Family Finder" test.

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Images: 3
Varina (Winnie) Davis
Varina (Winnie) Davis

Varina Davis Portrait
Varina Davis Portrait

Varina Davis Image 3
Varina Davis Image 3


Varina is 18 degrees from Walter Morrison, 26 degrees from Alison Wilkins and 18 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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