Jefferson Davis's third son, Joe, died at five years old as the result of an accidental fall from the east portico of the Confederate White House. He had celebrated his 5th birthday less than two weeks before his death.
Little Joe was described as exceptionally bright, and he was apparently the best behaved of all of the Davis children.
According to contemporary accounts, the accident took place at some point between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., while neither parent was at home. A servant discovered Joe lying by the pavement onto which he had fallen from a height of about fifteen feet. His sister, Maggie Davis, ran to the neighbors for help, and Jeff Jr. enlisted the aid of two people passing by on the street. One of these men, a Confederate officer, wrote that Joe's "head was contused, and I think his chest much injured internally."
The child apparently died about the time his parents reached the house. His father refused to see visitors and could be heard pacing all night.
Funeral services were held at St. Paul's Episcopal Church on May 1, and Joe was buried at Richmond's Hollywood Cemetery, where the rest of his immediate family would eventually be interred.
There are no known likenesses of Joseph Evan Davis, in large part due to the scarcity of photographic materials during the war.