Bedroom suite with Jefferson Davis connection up at auction

ABERDEEN, Miss. – The antique furnishings of three prominent old Mississippi estates will be sold Aug, 20 at 10 a.m. (CDT), by Stevens Auction Company, in the firm’s air-conditioned gallery at 609 North Meridian Street in Aberdeen, one block north of the historic Adams-French Mansion. Aberdeen is in northeastern Mississippi, not far from Tupelo.

One item with historical significance is an 1840s bedroom suite once owned by Varina Howell, the second wife of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy. The suite was originally made for The Briars, an estate home in Natchez built in the 1830s that Ms. Howell lived in as a child. It was later given to a Dr. Whittington of Twin Oaks, another Natchez estate.

The bedroom suite remained in the Whittington family, at Twin Oaks, up until 15 years ago, when it was assumed by the estate’s present owner, who consigned it to Stevens Auction Company.

Another major estate in the auction is that of Mrs. Ellen Drake McCarley of Port Gibson, Miss. Mrs. McCarley is a third-generation Drake, a family that has lived on top of Drake Hill in Port Gibson for generations, since before the Civil War. The home she has owned for years, and has only recently had to leave due to poor health, is filled with many valuable ancestral treasures.

The furniture in the auction will be plentiful and much of it is attributable to the premier craftsmen of the day, like Meeks, Horner, Hastings and Boudoine. One R.J. Horner piece of note is a mahogany Federal-style sideboard (shown below) with heavily carved back splash, made around 1890 and measuring 66 inches tall by 82 inches wide by 24 inches deep. The piece is signed R.J. Horner.

Mahogany sideboardx468.jpg

Meeks cabinetx468.jpgThe pieces attributable to J. & J.W. Meeks will include a mint julep cabinet (shown at right) made circa 1840, 39 inches tall by 37 inches wide; and a flamed mahogany period Empire pier table with white marble, circa 1835, 41 inches tall by 39 inches wide.

A Hastings example worth mentioning is a mahogany Empire banquet dining table with five leaves, a gadrooned edge and grapes carved on the base. Other furniture lots to be sold will feature a period mahogany highboy chest with bonnet top; a heavily carved oak hall tree with oval bevel mirror, circa 1900; and a flamed mahogany Empire secretary desk, made circa 1850.

In addition to the Varina Howell suite, also offered will be a mahogany Victorian half tester plantation bed, circa 1865, 8 feet 9 inches tall by 78 inches long; and a three-piece walnut Eastlake bedroom suite with half tester bed, dresser and wash stand in need of some restoration.

Decorative accessories will feature a pair of Old Paris mantel vases, pink and gold with black figures, circa 1850, 12 inches tall by 12 inches wide; a brilliant cut glass butter dish, circa 1910, 8 inches tall by 10 inches wide; a pair of crystal candle holders with crystal prisms, circa 1890, 15 inches tall by 5 inches wide; and a pillar and scroll Federal weight clock, 30 inches tall.

Learn more about Stevens Auction Company by contacting 662-369-2200 or


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