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This Day in Georgia History

September 18, 1898

Winnie Davis Died

Six weeks after getting drenched by a sudden storm during a review of Confederate veterans substituting for her ill father, former Confederate president Jefferson Davis, Varina Anne Davis (better known by her nickname “Winnie”) died at her family’s summer home in Narragansett Pier, Rhode Island. Winnie Davis was widely known throughout the South as the “Daughter of the Confederacy” - a reference to the fact that she was born in the Confederate White House in Richmond in 1864. The title originated in 1886 during a visit to Georgia by Jefferson Davis, who brought his daughter along. Former Confederate general John B. Gordon accompanied the two on their trip from Montgomery, Alabama, to Atlanta. Before introducing Jefferson Davis at the dedication of a monument of Benjamin Hill, Gordon introduced Winnie to the crowd by calling her “the daughter of the Confederacy.” On subsequent occasions, Gordon repeated the characterization when introducing her, and the title quickly stuck. After Winnie’s death, the new Georgia Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy decided to honor her with a new dormitory for daughters of Confederate veterans attending the State Normal School for Teachers in Athens. Construction of what would be called Winnie Davis Hall began in 1902 and was completed in 1903. In 1953, the U.S. Navy purchased the Normal School property for its Supply Corps School and converted Winnie Davis Hall from a dormitory to a building for administrative offices.