Was Varina Howell Davis, Wife of Jefferson Davis Créole?


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I see some artifacts in the first photo that looks like Varina's face was altered.
There's no doubt that the photo in the first post has an edited image of Varina's face. The face in the undoctored image might still have "creole" features, but they are nowhere near as pronounced as in the altered image.

- Alan
 
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The Creoles held an interesting place in Southron Society... not quite Mullato, not quite Anglo. As for Varina's Welsh ancestry, one only needs to look at Catherine Zeta-Jones to see the olive complexion, deep brown eyes, and high cheek bones common in Welsh morphism. Me thinks the jury will have a tough time deciding this one.
 

diane

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There's several other photos of Varina that do make me think Indian rather than black. It wasn't that uncommon in high society families in the South, especially if the Indians were part of the planter class themselves. I've seen some similarly doctored photos of Forrest, done to say he was not totally white. He did have cousins who were Cherokee, but he was not himself. Sometimes, as noted in above posts, there's an agenda in showing certain people were not as white as they seemed.

One thing I did note when I lived in the South was the racial separation was so keen people could tell someone was not 100 percent white even if they looked like they were. The West is very much the same regarding Indians. The older people can tell if you've got the proverbial one drop!
 
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There's several other photos of Varina that do make me think Indian rather than black. It wasn't that uncommon in high society families in the South, especially if the Indians were part of the planter class themselves. I've seen some similarly doctored photos of Forrest, done to say he was not totally white. He did have cousins who were Cherokee, but he was not himself. Sometimes, as noted in above posts, there's an agenda in showing certain people were not as white as they seemed.

One thing I did note when I lived in the South was the racial separation was so keen people could tell someone was not 100 percent white even if they looked like they were. The West is very much the same regarding Indians. The older people can tell if you've got the proverbial one drop!
Interesting you make this observation. Some years ago, a couple Navajo Elders approached me at a restaurant and asked me who my people were. I was a bit confused by the question, so they clarified the request. What tribe are you descended from?

I do not, in any way, shape, or form, look Native American yet these old Navajo could see it in me. I told them I was part Mattaponi, a tribe from the coast of Virginia. One turned to the other and said, "I told you he was from the costal people! You said he was one of the Iroquois!" They then exchanged some barbs back and forth, thanked me for my time, and left.

Funny thing is, this was a totally unexpected, random encounter... and the second elder was right too. Never got a chance to tell them I had Mohawk blood from Upstate New York too!

Uncanny how some people can pick out the most subtle details.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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It's always so unkind when historical figures become topics of agenda. These ridiculous feeding frenzies erupt, as we see with Varina. Not who she was, but what someone chooses for this flesh and blood woman who once lived here, on the planet. She gets it in the neck a lot- her husband did not really love her, or she was Creole ( like that's something awful ), and I've seen her portrayed as cold and heartless, in books. Sourced? Of course not.

Funny, how not a single wife of the 3 ' big ones ' comes out unscathed. Varina Davis, Mary Custis Lee and Mary Todd Lincoln, you rarely ( if ever ) see positive portrayals. Heck, they gave Julia Grant the world's worst image as a statue. Well, when nothing much can be invented about her, we're reminded she owned slaves.

Frank Leslie included a Varina image, early in the war. It may be from a painting of her- somewhere seem to remember one similar.
varina resized.jpg
 

AshleyMel

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Sometimes, as noted in above posts, there's an agenda in showing certain people were not as white as they seemed.

One thing I did note when I lived in the South was the racial separation was so keen people could tell someone was not 100 percent white even if they looked like they were. The West is very much the same regarding Indians. The older people can tell if you've got the proverbial one drop!
Thanks for posting this. Of course, this subject is near and dear to my heart (as I'm sure it is to others too)! :hug:

In my experience, there was that keenness back home. It was like a radar with some! LOL! My family tried to pass me as 100% white but it never really quite cut the mustard. I was never treated that way! I think I've said on here before, I have had many different encounters, often in the same day where people have commented on if I was white, black, Italian(?), Indian or something in between. I am not sure of why the fascination with this! I'm Ashley! I sometimes think the brain wants to see one thing or the other! (Or maybe it's how we are taught?) It's the middle ground that is wonky. When I show people a picture of my father they smile and blink and then look at me, then blink some more and smile again. I'm not sure quite what is going on sometimes. One sweet lady even said, "Well, he does look black." :O o: Bless her heart!

I do not give a poof about the color of her skin or her features. Varina was a lovely and incredible woman. Her story is the history that we all come here to learn about and share. (If there are) Any agenda needs to be checked at the door!
 
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rebelatsea

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diane

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Here is a photograph of two older Welsh women which I found on this site: http://wildeyedsoutherncelt.com/wp-content/uploads/146130678_8310d8b8b8.jpg
146130678_8310d8b8b8.jpg


As well, the lovely young Welsh woman:

tumblr_lp5v9nuXGJ1qlts9lo1_500.jpg


I would suggest that Varina is a throwback to her Welsh Celtic roots.
Now that's really interesting! Think you've solved whatever problem there was. :laugh: Those Welsh ladies in the hats - that one on the right looks just like one of our Shasta people! @alexjack - what do you think?
 

alexjack

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Now that's really interesting! Think you've solved whatever problem there was. :laugh: Those Welsh ladies in the hats - that one on the right looks just like one of our Shasta people! @alexjack - what do you think?
Yes diane everyone over here knows that Welsh prince Madoc discovered America coming ashore I believe in Alabama :D and didn't Thomas Jefferson believe there was a tribe of Native Americans descended from Madoc and his followers? Varina does look Celtic, my father's line were all dark skinned with straight black hair, as a young man he looked Italian or Spanish. I believe her maiden name was Howell or Howells? That's Welsh as is the spelling of her married name . The name Davies is common in Wales and the border area of England but with the Welsh alphabet and letter pronunciation being used the English sound of v translates to the Welsh f and so the name becomes Dafis in Welsh then Davis back in English.
 

diane

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Yes diane everyone over here knows that Welsh prince Madoc discovered America coming ashore I believe in Alabama :D and didn't Thomas Jefferson believe there was a tribe of Native Americans descended from Madoc and his followers? Varina does look Celtic, my father's line were all dark skinned with straight black hair, as a young man he looked Italian or Spanish. I believe her maiden name was Howell or Howells? That's Welsh as is the spelling of her married name . The name Davies is common in Wales and the border area of England but with the Welsh alphabet and letter pronunciation being used the English sound of v translates to the Welsh f and so the name becomes Dafis in Welsh then Davis back in English.
You may be quite right! Back in the day, Shasta women wore hats with scarves under them, pretty much like in the photos. Hmm! Maybe we ought to take that anthropologist up on his DNA study... :D
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Who the hell cares whether she is black, blue yellow, orange etc.
She was the wife of one of America's famous People and served him superbly all her life.
One fine Southern Lady for sure.

SALUTE!! :lee:

The only problem with this statement is sheer wording? Even 150 years ago, perhaps a wife would raise an eyebrow over the thought she served her husband. That would get you cold oatmeal, with lumps. :angel:
 

JPK Huson 1863

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When I show people a picture of my father they smile and blink and then look at me, then blink some more and smile again. I'm not sure quite what is going on sometimes. One sweet lady even said, "Well, he does look black." :O o: Bless her heart!

This is a crazy good piece of writing, Ashley. I'm just smitten by your generation. It's like the visionaries who came up with the whole idea of ' American ' targeted completion of the project for this century, on purpose. Took that long to work the kinks out and produce such an insightful, generous bunch.

You know, there's just no graceful comeback, in any book on the social graces, for " Well, he does look black ". It's so off the wall, what is there to say? Never had anyone look at Dad's photo and say " Well, he does look Swiss/English/French and do I see some Greek in there? " Same thing, so why.....? Like you said. You're Ashley.
 



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