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Yalobusha Historical Society Minutes – April 16, 2009

Dr. Harry Owens spoke on Jeff Davis.

The Yalobusha Historical Society held its monthly meeting April 16 in its headquarters in Coffeeville. There were 41 members and guests present, representing seven counties. We appreciate the interest shown in our meetings, and cordially invite everyone to attend any or all meetings.

  President Mike Worsham welcomed everyone, especially the speaker and other guests. Carl Vick spoke the opening prayer. Mike thanked Dave Hovey for the fine job he did in flooring the church’s attic in preparation for storing some of the Society’s material. The Society appreciates Dave’s work, and commends him for his many hours of work.

   A work day is planned for Tuesday, May 5, from 9:00 a. m. to 12 noon. Plans call for the transfer of the large “Mackey Collection” from the old building to the present site. Also, the large amount of historical material on loan from Chris Morgan needs to be organized and put on shelves. It is hoped that there will be a good turnout for this endeavor, as there will be something for everybody to do, and every little bit helps.

  Mike spoke of the absence of Harold Jones at the last few meetings. Harold, one on the Society’s Directors, has been on the sick list, and we send get-well wishes to him, as well as to others who have experienced health problems.

  Program Chairman Opal Wright introduced the guest speaker, Dr. Harry Owens, a retired history professor at Ole Miss. He and his wife, Mary Lou, have two children and live in Oxford.

  Dr. Owens’ subject was “Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.” He said that , unlike Lincoln, R. E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, Davis had never gained status as a hero of the Civil War era. Many biographers have not been kind to him, but his status improved somewhat after the conflict’s end.

  Dr. Owens spoke of Davis, the man, and also of his administration as President of the CSA. He compared Davis to Abe Lincoln, and told of the many similarities in their lives. Both were born in log cabins in Kentucky, about 100 miles apart and both had military experience before entering politics. And, Dr. Owens said, “By George, they both LOVED turnip greens!”  Davis moved southwest to Mississippi, and Lincoln moved northwest to Illinois.  The two capitals where they served as Presidents,  Washington and Richmond, are about 100 miles apart.  Dr. Owens  quoted James Street in describing the two men: “Together, those two  old boys from Kentucky  sure did raise a lot of h….”

   Davis, born in 1807 or 1808, graduated from West Point Military Academy. He married Sarah Taylor, daughter of a future President,  Zachary Taylor. After her death, he married Varina Howell, of Natchez. He had served in the U. S. Army in the frontier fighting and in the Mexican War, attaining the rank of Colonel. He received the “Hero’s Sword” for his Mexican War service. Then he entered politics.

    Davis served as a Congressman and then as a Senator from MS, and was Secretary of War under President James K. Polk, and then became a Senator again. Ten, he was chosen to lead the Confederate States of America in 1861 and served until the close of the War in 1865.

  Dr. Owens spoke of the hardships endured by the military and civilian population of the South, and of some of the laws passed by Davis’ government to fund the war effort. For instance, Davis supported and instituted the first draft law in the country,  (Lincoln soon followed) and an income tax law, another first.  He imposed an embargo on cotton, suspended the writ of habeas corpus, imposed martial law, and took  other measures.   Dr. Owens very thoroughly covered many aspects of the history of the Davis administration, and was quite humorous at times. It was a wonderful program, and very informative and enjoyable. We are grateful to Dr. Owens for sharing his vast knowledge of history with us, and invite him for future programs.

  The May 21 program will be brought by another of Coffeeville’s own, Sally Stone Trotter of Greenville. She will speak on “Rowan Oak,  Before Falkner.” Her mother, the former Maggie Lea Bryant, was born in this home, located on property that once belonged to the Bailey family.  Red Riddick, who ran out of time in March meeting, is scheduled to tell “the rest of the story” in September. Again, the public is invited to all Society meetings.

 ATTENDING: Jean Fly, Herb Hayward, Betty Bryant Pechak, Sarah H. Williams, Martha Short, Bill Adams, Hugh Bill McGuire, Joe Moorman, Lucille Edwards, Edith Everett, Ann Curtis, Pauline L. Hughes, Ruth F. Richmond, Ray Cox, Pat Brooks, Jimmie and Francine Pinnix, Thelma Roberts, Tom and Alma Moorman, Julia Fernandez, Frank Fernandez, Lawrence Litten, Richard Crenshaw, Dot Baker, Carl and Mae Vick, Eddie Nelson, Roy Bruner, Raymond Bruner, Kathryn French, Kay F. Rodick, Sue Fly, Joy Tippitt, James Cohea, Alice G. Landreth, James Person, Opal Wright, Betty Miller, Mike Worsham and Dr. Harry Owens.

Betty R. Miller

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