Varina Davis’s train travel from Richmond, Va., ended in Chester, S.C. – April 1865
City Directories and History: In circa 1920 the current building, replaced a simple framed,
passenger station. Chester’s growth began with the coming of the railroad in 1851, linking Chester to Charlotte and Columbia via rail for the first time. The Seaboard Air Lines Passenger Depot and railroad line came in the 1880’s linking Atlanta, Georgia to the region.
The Chester Depot had been a very important one, on the railroad, for both Confederate passenger and military supply services. It was here that CSA First Lady, Varina Davis, came after crossing the Catawba River and disembarked her train on April (15), 1865.
Mrs. Mary B. Chesnut, at the time a refugee in Chester, wrote; “People sent me things for Mrs. Davis, as they did in Columbia for Mr. Davis. But shame on them. There were people here (Chester, S.C.), so base as to be afraid to befriend Mrs. Davis, thinking when the Yankees came they would take vengeance on them for it. …. Mrs. Brown prepared a dinner for her at the station. I went down with her. She left at five o’clock….. she was as calm and smiling as ever.”
Source: Mary Chesnut’s Civil War, C. Vann Woodward, Yales Press, 1981, p. 785
See article by Louise Pettus below dealing with the train arriving in Chester, S.C.
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