The Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans arranged for the state of Mississippi to operate Beauvoir as a home for Confederate veterans, conforming to the expressed wishes of Mrs. Davis. On December 2, 1903. the first Confederate veteran, J. R. Climer of Madison County, was admitted.
The state eventually constructed 12 barracks for housing the veterans, their wives, and widows. A typical barracks was 126 feet wide, with porches running the entire length of the building, with six rooms in each building. Thus, if four veterans shared a room, each barracks could house 24 persons, and since there were 12 buildings, 288 beds were available. The largest number of soldiers, sailors, wives and widows residing at the home at any one time approximated 250.
At first the rooms were heated by wood fires, but coal later replaced wood. A pitcher and washbowl were placed on each washstand.
Many citizens over the years spent much time and effort in visiting and helping the aging veterans. One of the most devoted of these was Walter M. Lampton, the son of a colonel of the local militia. For years, Lampton was a daily visitor to Beauvoir and was well known to all of the veterans living there, with whom he played checkers and marbles.
One of these veterans was W. T. Bowie, who often sat in the extreme southwestern corner of the grounds gazing out over the Gulf waters. Lampton built Bowie, who was over 80 years old, a small summer house with seats and a roof, which was capped with a sign that read "Bowie's Retreat." Bowie was delighted with the house, but, when he spied the sign, he became indignant. "Bowie lost a leg in the war," he exclaimed, "but never retreated, sir!" He calmed down somewhat when the meaning of "retreat" was explained, but he was not happy until Lampton changed the sign to read "Bowie's Rest."
Another favorite of Lampton's was James A. Cuevas, grandson of a native of Spain to whom a grateful United States government gave Cat Island off the Mississippi coast as a reward for his service in refusing to lead British General Pakenham through the Rigolets and Lake Ponchatrain to attack New Orleans in the War of 1812. Cuevas was blind and was cared for in the hospital at Beauvoir, where Lampton often visited him. Cuevas always recognized Lampton by touching his hands, even when nurses introduced him as someone from far away. Cuevas complained that since losing his sight, he could not till when daylight came, and he wanted a cock to crow and announce daylight for him. Lampton obtained rooster, which was immediately named "Bilbo" by Cuevas, an ardent supporter of Governor Theodore G. Bilbo. Cuevas claimed that every time the rooster crowed, he was shouting, "Hurrah for Bilbo!" Another veteran, who disliked Governor Bilbo, killed the rooster, much to Cuevas' dismay. Lampton then brought Cuevas two bantams, a rooster and a hen, and had the coop built just outside Cuevas' window. Every morning, "Mr. Bilbo" stepped up to the window sill and announced the coming of the day, and "Mrs. Bilbo" joined him. After Cuevas' death, the bantams continued to thrive, and visitors were told their story.
Walter Lampton made many gifts to Beauvoir and to the veterans. During the campaign to build a hospital, Lampton gave a check for 10 percent of the anticipated cost of $40,000, and, when an additional $10,000 was required, he wrote another check for $1,000. He also paid the cost of the fund-raising, amounting to another $1,000. He made many purchases for the home and subscribed annually for 25 copies of the Confederate Veteran for the old soldiers to read.
As time passed the ranks of the veterans thinned, and, eventually, the home contained more widows than actual veterans.
The last veteran to die at Beauvoir was Jim Walton of Winston County. He died on February 2, 1947, at the age of 96 or 97, and is buried in Beauvoir Cemetery. However, Walton was not the last veteran to live at Beauvoir. On August 30, 1949, James A. Thrasher of Smith County was admitted to the home at age 97. He left Beauvoir in 1951 at age 100 and died three months later.
Beauvoir's last two residents were Confederate widows. On February 19, 1957, they were transferred to the Golden Age Nursing Home in Greenwood. It was more economical for the state to pay their expenses there than to operate Beauvoir for only two women. These last two widows were:Mollie Lavenia Bailey of Rosedale, widow of Corporal Zachariah T. Bailey; and Mollie Cottle of Rolling Fork, widow of Private James Cottle.
With the end of state operation of Beauvoir, control of the entire property was returned to the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which operates the property as a shrine to the memory of Jefferson Davis.
A list of all resident veterans and marked graves is now available.
Although the name of Colonel Prentiss Ingraham does not rank as one of the great names in American literature, he was one of the most popular of all American writers from the 1870's until his death in 1904. He was one of the top three or four writers of the famous (or infamous) dime novels of that period. He was also probably the most prolific writer that Mississippi ever produced, writing several hundred dime novels, plus a number of plays, articles, and poems.
Born near Natchez on December 28, 1843, he was the only son of Reverend Joseph Holt Ingraham and his wife, Mary Brooks Ingraham. He was described by a contemporary as a "dark, handsome, fascinating youth." He was educated by private tutors and then attended St. Timothy's Military Academy in Maryland, where he was a classmate of John Wilkes Booth, who later became the assassin of President Lincoln. Next he attended Jefferson College in Washington, Mississippi, just outside of Natchez, and, at the outbreak of the War Between the States, he was attending the Mobile Medical College in Alabama.
Before becoming an Episcopal minister, his father had written numerous books best described as early dime novels. On becoming a minister, Reverend Ingraham was ashamed of these books and tried to make amends by writing religious novels. His trilogy Prince of the House of David, The Pillar of Fire, and, The Throne of David achieved enormous popularity nationally, although his son later described them as "religious dime novels." His father's other serious works were The Southwest: By a Yankee, (he was a native of Maine), and The Sunny South: Or, The Southerner at Home, which he wrote as an answer to Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Prentiss Ingraham enlisted in Company D of Withers' First Mississippi Light Artillery as a private, reaching the grade of Ordnance Sergeant by July, 1863, when he was captured at Port Hudson, Louisiana. He received a wound in his foot, which troubled him the remainder of his life. He was paroled and exchanged, although, according to some accounts, he escaped from his captors. In October, 1864, he was listed as absent "on detached service." He reportedly served as an officer of scouts in Ross' Brigade of Texas Cavalry. This may have been true, although no record of such service exists. It is certain, however, that he was a Confederate colonel.
After the war, he became a soldier of fortune, serving in Mexico under Juarez against Maximilian and the French. In the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, he served on General Hoffman's staff in the Austrian army at the Battle of Sadowa. He fought on the island of Crete with the Greeks against the Turks, and, for a time, in the army of the Khedive of Egypt. His literary career began in London, where he wrote articles, essays, and poems for British periodicals. When he returned to the United States, he became involved in the Cuban Revolution as a Cuban navy captain and made several trips to Cuba in the Hornet before he was captured by the Spaniards. He was also a Cuban army colonel, which gave him the rank he used later in life.
After his capture, the Spaniards sentenced him to be shot, a sentence American diplomats were unable to get moderated. The British consul also tried, and he reportedly induced the Spaniards to agree to permit Ingraham to escape, which he did. After his escape, Ingraham returned to the United States, went west and became acquainted with Buffalo Bill (William F. Cody ), Pawnee Bill, Wild Bill Hickock, and other frontier figures. Ingraham's career as a leading dime novelist took off, with 600 to 1,000 novels attributed to him, many of which were written under a variety of pseudonyms.
The biography of Buffalo Bill by Don Russell, published by the University of Oklahoma Press, claims that Ingraham was the man who made Buffalo Bill famous worldwide. Ingraham, however, was not the first to write about Buffalo Bill, but he was a publicity agent for Buffalo Bill's "Wild West Shows," and wrote about 200 Buffalo Bill novels.
Ingraham lived most of his life in New York, where he married Rose Langley, author, artist, and composer in 1875. They had two daughters and one son. From 1897 to 1902, the family lived in Easton, Maryland and, from 1902 to 1904 in Chicago.
Ingraham became a victim of Bright's disease and traveled to the home
for Confederate soldiers at Beauvoir, where he was admitted on August 12,
1904. He died four days later and is buried in the Confederate Cemetery
at Beauvoir in grave number 62. His wife died on February 3, 1941 at Greenwich,