The Varina Davis Trail Stop #6 – Oh, to ride the train….
City Directories and History: The Newberry newspaper reported, “General Hood and Mrs. Jefferson Davis passed through Newberry on Sunday, April (17th).” Source: the Newberry Tri-Weekly Herald, Tuesday, April 18, 1865, Vol. 1 Number 13.
Perhaps more importantly, the newspaper also reported: In a letter from Messrs. Editors from J. B. W., M. D., 2nd Ga. Regiment – The writer thanked Newberry on behalf of the
paroled prisoners from Lee’s army. “We left Appomattox C. H., on the 13th, where we had been for some days, without anything to eat except green beef, and barely enough of that to sustain life. Footsore, tired, and with heavy and sad hearts, but by no means subdued or conquered, we started for our homes in various parts of the Confederacy, and trudged on without rations through Virginia and North Carolina.” They crossed the Catawba into SC where they found “a train of cars waiting to convey a freight of toil-worn and weary veterans. The conductor was kind and saw that all had seats. Arriving in Chester, we were met by grey haired fathers, who extended their hands in friendship, telling us to go to the Commissary and get rations that there was plenty for us, and that the ladies would cook them.” The next day they set out on the thirty-three mile hike to Newberry because the rails were not working. They found out that they could go to Hope Station and ride seventeen miles. They did that and arrived in Newberry where they went to the hotel but there was no clerk. Mrs. Dr. E invited three of them into her house, gave them supper, lodging and a breakfast the next morning. She refused compensation. The Newberry Tri-Weekly Herald
Note: The exact route from Ashford Ferry on the Broad River, into Newberry, S.C., taken by Varina Davis has yet to be documented. However, the above newspaper account of other travelers, on the same route at the sametime, offers an explanation of her “potential” route into Newberry and for discrepancies in her means of travel and timeframe. What is known, is that the Davis Party crossed a pontoon bridge at Ashford’s Ferry, and proceeded either to Hope Station or Pomaria Station to resume their trip on the train.
Regular communications were taking place between Mrs. Davis and her husband’s party. On April 20, 1865 she received the following:
It was during this turbulent period, in which Varina Davis found herself, crossing the Broad River at Ashford’s Ferry and as did the returning soldiers, boarded the train for Newberry, S.C., on the Columbia to Greenville Railroad line. Whistle stops along the way included: Hope Station, Pomeria, Prosperity and Newberry, S.C. It is unclear just how long Mrs. Davis spent in the Town of Newberry, but perhaps only long enough to eat and rest, before continuing on her train trip to Abbeville….
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