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An impressive likeness of Jefferson Davis

COURTESY PAUL JERMYNIt is likely that this image of Jefferson Davis was presented to Beauvoir in honor of his centennial birthday on June 3, 1908.
COURTESY PAUL JERMYNIt is likely that this image of Jefferson Davis was presented to Beauvoir in honor of his centennial birthday on June 3, 1908.

This 1962 postcard features the wooden image of Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) that was carved by E.S. Lancaster in 1908.

Lancaster used only a pocketknife to carve the massive plaque, which stands 42-inches wide and 72-inches tall. Extensive research failed to reveal any other information about the artist.

The plaque is made up of a variety of woods. Davis' suit is comprised of mahogany that came from a piano case, the face and hands are pine, the vest and suit sleeves are gum, and the hair and beard are red gum.

The attached plate at the top right reads: "The only Confederate President, Jefferson Davis." It states his birth and death dates and the epitaph "Gone But Lives."

The smaller plate shows the portrait of Davis that the artist used as a model. The lower middle plate states: "This picture represents Jefferson Davis as he was when he gave his farewell speech before the Senate on 20 June 1861."

The original pocketknife is attached to the extreme lower right.

Over the years, the plaque has been on exhibit, and it has sometimes been in storage. It has survived many hurricanes unscathed. Thankfully, it was in storage during Hurricane Katrina, and it came through with only the loss of a few pieces of wood and the pocketknife. Today, it can be viewed in the Davis Gallery in the Presidential Library.

Murella H. Powell, a local historian, writes the weekly Flashback column. Do you have a local photograph to submit to Flashback? It can be of any subject or event in the Coast's distant or recent past. Please send a description with your name, address and daytime phone number to Flashback, the Sun Herald, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS 39535; or call 896-2424; or email living@sunherald.com.

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