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Montgomery church removes pew honoring Jefferson Davis

From The Trussville Tribune staff reports

MONTGOMERY — St. John’s Episcopal Church in Montgomery has removed a pew that bore a plaque honoring Confederate President Jefferson Davis, according to Pastor Robert C. Wisnewski Jr.

Davis was not a member of the church, but attended services there when he and his family lived in Montgomery briefly before the Confederate capital was moved to Virginia.

“The plaque, which memorializes the Jefferson Davis Pew, states that he was a communicant of St. John’s while his family was in Montgomery when he was first elected President of the Confederacy,” Wisnewski said. “The Davis family was in Montgomery for three months. Jefferson Davis was not Confirmed as an Episcopalian until he went to Richmond. His wife was an Episcopalian. We have no way of knowing how many times he or his family attended, perhaps only a few times or perhaps as many as a dozen times.”

Wisnewski said the pew was not dedicated to Davis until 1925, and the fact that a pro-lynching advocate from Tennessee spoke at the dedication further concerned the church.

That speaker, John Trotwood Moore, had gained fame by filibustering congress in an effort to stop an anti-lynching bill.

The church pastor said the lore behind the pew being in place since Davis attended services there was likely not true.

“At the dedication of the pew in 1925, the pew itself was not in place,” Wisnewski said. “Sometime between 1900 and 1925, the original pews in the nave were replaced with new ones. Most probably they were installed in 1906 when the chancel was expanded to its current dimensions. One of the original pews was put back in by 1934, but not before 1925, as shown in photographs in our archives. The lore that the pew had been in place since the beginning of the Civil War and always known as the Jefferson Davis Pew is not true.”

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