Jefferson Davis and Varina Howell married on February 26, 1845. First lady Varina Davis received a polite but chilly reception from the city’s aristocrats because she spoke her mind about such unfeminine subjects. Richmond elite preferred petite, fair women—the kind that called the dark-haired, olive-skinned Mrs. Davis refer to as “the Squaw” behind her back.
And by taking in Jim Limber, a black child who was mistreated, the “Ice” Queen Varina appears a tantalizing puzzle to deconstruct.
Jim Limber was with the Davis family when they fled Richmond and was at Irwinville, Georgia when Jefferson Davis was captured by Union cavalry. What happened to Jim afterwards is the stuff of Lost Cause mythology and historical guess work. Some have speculated Jim was kidnapped by Union soldiers and made a traveling freakshow exhibit, having his bare back revealed to audiences as a ringleader explained that the scars, which were really from his past abusive guardian, and not been given to him by Jefferson Davis. Please enjoy this true story.