Georgia park where Jefferson Davis captured may close

Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Todd DeFeo

ATLANTA, December 10, 2013 — The park that commemorates the location where Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured in 1865 may close because of a lack of revenue.

According to a report from WALB-TV, the 13-acre Jefferson Davis Memorial Historic Site in Irwinville may close by June. The park’s $10,000 in annual revenue is short of the $50,000 needed per year to fund operations.

“The revenue that come is not satisfying what the expenditures are so we’re looking at ways to keep the park open,” Joey Whitley told the station. Whitney is a descendant of James Clemens, the man who in 1920 deeded the land to the state of Georgia.

After camping in Irwinville overnight, Davis was captured early on the morning of May 10, 1865, by Union cavalry. As Davis tried to elude his pursuers, he apparently donned his wife’s overcoat or shawl to keep warm, which led to a rumor that he was wearing women’s clothing at the time of his capture.

The park, built by the Works Progress Administration in 1939, includes trails, a small museum and a memorial marking the precise location of Davis’ capture. The park was operated by the state of Georgia until 2009 when Irwin County assumed control after the state opted not to fund operations, according to a 2009 report in the Tifton Gazette newspaper.

Davis was imprisoned for two years, and his citizenship was not restored until 1978. In signing the bill to restore citizenship, President Jimmy Carter said this “officially completes the long process of reconciliation that has reunited our people following the tragic conflict between the States.”

Irwinville is located about 170 miles south of Atlanta. A community meeting to discuss the park’s future is planned for Tuesday.

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