|Richmond Plantation House, |
birthplace of Sarah Anne Ellis
Sarah Dorsey wrote articles for the New York Churchman in the 1850s. She published her first fictional work in 1863–1864 in the Southern Literary Messenger, which serialized her novel Agnes Graham, featuring a heroine modeled on herself. Other fictional works of Dorsey include Lucia Dare, with a heroine modeled on her own experiences in fleeing Louisiana for Texas during the Civil War.
In 1866, Dorsey published a biography of the wartime Louisiana Governor Henry Watkins
Allen. They had first met in 1859, when both the Dorseys and Allen were traveling in the Rhine River Valley in Europe.
In 1873, the Dorseys moved to Beuvoir, a plantation near Mississippi City, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Soon after her husband died in 1875, Dorsey learned that Jefferson Davis, the former president of the Confederacy, was ill and bankrupt. She invited him to visit at the plantation in December 1876. The impoverished Davis family had been living with their eldest daughter and her family in Memphis, Tennessee. Jefferson Davis moved into Beauvoir on a permanent basis, where Dorsey provided him with a cottage on the grounds for his use. There he began to write his memoir, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. Dorsey was instrumental in his success: organizing his day, motivating him to work, taking dictation, transcribing notes, editing his manuscript and offering advice. Rumors quickly began to fly that the two were having an affair. Varina Davis refused for a long time to set foot on Dorsey’s property. Eventually she accepted Dorsey's invitation to live there.
|The Davis Family at Beauvoir|