Battle of Champion Hill
May 18, 2013
On May 18, 2013, the Champion Heritage Foundation will host an all-day event to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Champion Hill. Bertram Hayes-Davis, the great-great grandson of the president of the Confederate States, Jefferson Davis, has been named as event speaker.
"Having Bertram Hayes-Davis accept the Champion Heritage Foundationís invitation to speak at Champion Hill was exciting for me," said Rebecca Blackwell Drake, local author and historian who has worked for battlefield preservation in Mississippi since 1999. "The 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Champion Hill calls for a special commemoration and we could think of nothing better than to have Bertram Hayes-Davis as speaker."
Bertram and his wife, Carol, moved to Mississippi during the summer of 2012 where, on July 11, Bertram was introduced as the new executive director of Beauvoir, his great-great grandparentsí home. Located in Biloxi, the historic ocean-front home was once described as, "a beautiful antebellum home set in a grove of lordly live oaks and magnolias, and surrounded by flower gardens, vineyards and pine forests, smiling upon the enchanting Mexican Gulf."
After the turn of the century, Jefferson Davisí widow, Varina Davis, donated Beauvoir to become a Confederate Soldierís Home. Confederate veterans occupied the property from 1903-1957. Today, the Mississippi Sons of the Confederate Veterans continue to operate the historic property as a shrine to the memory of Jefferson Davis.
In 2005, after Katrina swept through Mississippi and Louisiana, Beauvoir was heavily damaged and many of the family treasures were destroyed, including the contents of the library. After Bertram Hayes-Davis was informed of the damage, he broke down in tears. Soon afterwards, he found that the remains of two structures were still evident Ė the main house and the presidential library. It was a relief to know that all was not lost.
As the new director of Beauvoir, Davis and his wife, Carol, plan to continue to restore the home to its former grandeur. Proud of his heritage, Bertram Hayes-Davis serves as president of the Davis Family Association which is comprised of descendants of Jefferson Davis and his siblings. The group meets bi-yearly at the Davis family home, Rosemont Plantation, near Woodville, Mississippi, where Jefferson Davis grew up. "I want my son and my daughter to realize that they have a very important ancestry," said Bertram whose great-grandmother, Margaret Davis Hayes, was the only child of Jefferson and Varina, to bear children. The hyphenated name, Hayes-Davis, was created by the Mississippi Legislature in 1890 to preserve the name of Jefferson Davis
Bertram Hayes-Davis will speak on the grounds of the Champion Hill Missionary Baptist Church (former site of Grantís headquarters and the Champion plantation house) during the opening 10:00 ceremony. "We are expecting a large crowd for the all-day event," states Drake, "and really look forward to having Bertram and Carol being our honored guests."
Rebecca Blackwell Drake
Beauvoir before hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1999
Beauvoir, the historic post-war home of
Jefferson Davis, is located on the beachfront in Biloxi.
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