The Varina Davis Trail Stop #1
CSA First Lady, Mrs. Varina Davis, traveled south across Virginia, N.C. and into S.C. on her way to rendezvous with her husband, CSA Pres. Jefferson Davis, in their joint attempt to evade capture by Federal troops. Mrs. Davis was escorted by a contingency of soldiers as well as her ladies in waiting, slaves and her children. “She had departed from Richmond on March 31, only a few days before General Lee’s defeat at Five Forks and Richmond’s demise. She, her four children, and sister arrived in Charlotte, on or soon after April 3. Burton Harrison, personal secretary to Jefferson Davis, arranged the accommodations at the Abram Weill (Wiele) house. Rumors of a Union upcoming assault on Charlotte, forced Varina to board the next train out of Charlotte, William Parker’s treasure train, the rail convoy that transported the remnants of the Confederate treasury.” (N.C. Markers.com)
Varina and her group left Charlotte and were taken to Chester, S.C., in route via Newberry and then on to Abbeville, where they arrived on April 17-18 to await CSA Pres. Jefferson Davis. Having left Charlotte, N.C., she was unaware that Pres. Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated the previous evening of April 14th, a tragic piece of history that would substantially alter the the Davis’s future.
Train travel from Charlotte to Columbia, S.C. was well established by 1852, and it was Mrs. Davis’s desire, to go as far south by train, as was possible. However, the movement of Sherman’s troops between Columbia and Lancaster, S.C., forced her to abandon the train, on the afternoon of April 15, 1865 at the Chester depot. On her seamingly uneventful ride from Charlotte to Chester, S.C., where she disembarked, Mrs. Davis would have crossed the Catawba River railroad trestle and gone through the newly found railroad trading center of Rock Hill, S.C. She may or may not have paid attention to those two landmarks, or even the numerous plantations and railroad turnouts, along the her path. She did however know that evading capture was extremely important, for it was she who was traveling with many of their personal possessions as well as perhaps what remained of the Confederacy’s gold reserves.
After spending all day on the train, Mrs. Davis and her party bravely stepped off the train in Chester, S.C., not knowing their next leg of the trip would be by foot and rough wagon. They spent a wet night at Woodward Baptist Church.
Explore history, houses, and stories across S.C. Your membership provides you with updates on regional topics, information on historic research, preservation, and monthly feature articles. But remember R&R wants to hear from you and assist in preserving your own family genealogy and memorabilia.
Visit the Southern Queries – Forum to receive assistance in answering questions, discuss genealogy, and enjoy exploring preservation topics with other members. Also listed are several history and genealogical researchers for hire.
User comments welcome — post at the bottom of this page.
Please enjoy this structure and all those listed in Roots and Recall. But remember each is private property. So view them from a distance or from a public area such as the sidewalk or public road.
Do you have information to share and preserve? Family, school, church, or other older photos and stories are welcome. Send them digitally through the “Share Your Story” link, so they too might be posted on Roots and Recall.
User comments always welcome - please post at the bottom of this page.