THE JEFFERSON DAVIS HIGHWAY
Jefferson Davis was born in Kentucky on June 3, 1807 or 1808 and grew up in Mississippi and Louisiana. His adult life was full of service to both the USA and the CSA. He received an appointment to the U.S Military Academy at West Point and after graduation served six years as a lieutenant in the United State Army. He was wounded in the Mexican-American war where he served as a colonel of a volunteer regiment. He resigned his commission to marry Sarah Knox Taylor, daughter of his commanding officer, future president Zachary Taylor, who opposed the marriage. Sarah died of malaria three months later. Entering politics he served as a U.S Representative and Senator from Mississippi, U.S Secretary of War, and ultimately President of the Confederate States of America.
Jefferson Davis has been vilified in recent years because he owned slaves. But so did George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, for whom he was named, and most of our country's leading figures of that era.
The South holds many memorials to its hero of the “Lost Cause of the New South”. The Jefferson Davis Highway was first proposed as a memorial coast-to-coast road in 1913 to the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The suggested route ran from Washington, D.C., to San Diego, California, through the southern states. On the west coast it was extended to Washington State where State Route 99 bears the name of the Jefferson Davis Highway. The first route missed Fort Davis. When this was brought to the attention of the Texas Director, Mrs. Forrest H. Farley, she had a new map made that included the town. She felt it appropriate that Jefferson Davis as Secretary of War for the United States issued the orders that established the Fort, and that the town and county, and the region's mountains were named for him.
Driving westward the Jefferson Davis Highway enters Texas at Orange and leaves at El Paso. The highway through Fort Davis is really a loop from Rte. 90 in Alpine. It follows Rte. 118 to the Town Plaza, turns onto Rte. 17 toward Marfa, goes right on Rte. 166, to Rte. 505 and rejoins Rte. 90 several miles from Valentine.
The dedication of a granite marker reading, “Jefferson Davis Highway No. 3”, in the Town Plaza in January, 1931, was an important event in the town. Southern melodies, and a speech by Senator Benjamin F. Berkeley were included in the program on an icy cold day with patches of snow on the ground. It was reported that the large audience sat in a circle of automobiles. J.W.Merrill, County Commissioner in accepting the monument, promised that the County would “take perpetual care of the granite slab”.
Research to date has not been able to uncover the reason for “...No. 3”.
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