OUR OPINION: Eva W. Davis would be proud of Warren County

Published 4:00 am Friday, April 14, 2023

This week’s announcement of an additional $2 million in state funds to repair the Old Warren County Courthouse retaining wall was certainly a high point.

As the news was announced by Vicksburg native Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann on Wednesday, we could think of no one who would’ve been prouder than the “Lady of the Courthouse” herself, Eva W. Davis. Nearly 85 years after she saved the historic building from demolition, the Old Courthouse’s importance was once again underscored in a major way.

“The Warren County Courthouse is one of the chief charms of the City of Vicksburg and a place that its citizens wish to preserve as a historical landmark,” Davis wrote in 1939. “Let us keep the courthouse as a hallowed shrine of historical interest, a museum as it were, where the history of the entire territory, rich in legend and fact, may be displayed to the tourist.”

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However, at that time Davis received no word or support from the Board of Supervisors upon receipt of her letter. Like a zealot, she kept working until 1946, when a notice was printed for a public meeting on saving the courthouse. A reported 200 people were in attendance.

Still, she worked tirelessly, with Carolyn Ann O’Riley, Davis’ granddaughter and author of “The Lady of Court Square: The Biography of Eva Caroline Whitaker Davis,” writing that she single-handedly cleared the building. At one point, Davis even cleaned and whitewashed the walls.

She more than earned her place in history when in 1966 the building was renamed the Old Court House Museum-Eva W. Davis Memorial.

It’s safe to say we owe the preservation of the Old Courthouse over the years to Davis and the others so inspired by her love for history and community and her knack for finding a point where the two intertwined.

Wednesday’s announcement was redemptive, in a way — if it wasn’t for the hard work of our current Board of Supervisors in securing grants and advocating for the project, there’s no telling where we’d be in restoring the wall. To have two of Vicksburg’s native sons, Hosemann and Sen. Briggs Hopson, show support for the project and work with the state legislature to secure such significant funding is remarkable.

Critics may be quick to say, “$2 million is a lot to spend on a wall.”

But a true Vicksburger knows: it’s much more than a wall to us.