Sarah Knox “Knoxie” <I>Taylor</I> Davis

Sarah Knox “Knoxie” Taylor Davis

Vincennes, Knox County, Indiana, USA
Death 15 Sep 1835 (aged 21)
Saint Francisville, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, USA
Burial Saint Francisville, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, USA
Memorial ID 20981 · View Source
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Folk Figure. The daughter of President Zachary Taylor, she is remembered as the first wife of future Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Raised in the itinerant lifestyle of an 'Army brat', she got her nickname from the Army post where she was born and during her growing-up years was educated in Kentucky and Ohio while undoubtedly experiencing at least some degree of the deference commonly shown to the children of senior officers. Knoxie met then-Lieutenant Davis, a West Point graduate serving under General Taylor's command, in 1832 at Fort Crawford, Wisconsin, during the Black Hawk War. The two formed an attachment which Taylor opposed, whether because of some personal antipathy to Davis or because he simply did not want his girl to have the difficult life of a soldier's wife, being unclear. Knoxie and Davis remained in contact via exchange of letters, however, and after Davis resigned from the Army to run his Mississippi plantation Taylor relaxed his position, at least to some extent. Knoxie married Jeff on June 17, 1835, at Beechland, her aunt Elizabeth's Louisville, Kentucky, home, apparently with the General's blessing though without his presence at the ceremony. The couple headed South on their honeymoon and at some point on the trip to visit Davis' sister Anna in Louisiana both contracted malaria; Knoxie died three months after the wedding and while her husband recovered he was afflicted with recurrent symptoms for the rest of his long life. In the aftermath, Davis became a recluse for a number of years while Taylor blamed his son-in-law for taking his daughter to a malarial swamp. On February 26, 1845, Davis married his one day First Lady Varina Banks Howell (1826-1906) and during the honeymoon took her to visit Knoxie's grave; later that same year a chance meeting on a Mississippi riverboat enabled him to patch up differences with General Taylor, a reconciliation that paved the way for his Mexican War service as a Colonel in Taylor's command. Elected President in 1848, Zachary Taylor died in 1850. Returning to Mississippi, Jeff Davis was a Congressman and Senator, served as Secretary of War under Franklin Pierce, in 1861 became President of the Confederate States of America, and died in 1889. The correspondence between Jeff and Knoxie was initially preserved at Davis' plantation but was lost to history when it was destroyed in an 1863 Union raid. Today Knoxie remains the only daughter of one American President married to another.

Bio by: Bob Hufford

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 27 Mar 2001
  • Find a Grave Memorial 20981
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Sarah Knox “Knoxie” Taylor Davis (6 Mar 1814–15 Sep 1835), Find a Grave Memorial no. 20981, citing Locust Grove Cemetery, Saint Francisville, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .