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Photo of White House of the Confederacy housekeeper puts face on intimate witness to history

  • Confederate Housekeeper-1.jpg

    Mary O’Melia is seen in an undated photo provided by the American Civil War Museum. O’Melia served at the White House of the Confederacy in Richmond, Va.,as housekeeper for Jefferson Davis and his first lady, Varina Davis, and was a confidante of the first lady. The image of O’Melia is now in the possession of The American Civil War Museum in Richmond. A woman who says her late husband was related to O’Melia provided the museum with the photograph. (AP Photo/American Civil War Museum) Wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Loc: CS23-2, Box 7 (The Associated Press)

  • Confederate Housekeeper-2.jpg

    Varina Banks Howell Davis is seen in an 1860 photo provided by the American Civil War Museum. A photo has emerged of a key figure in the household of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Mary O'Melia served as housekeeper for Davis and his first lady, Varina Davis in the White House of the Confederacy in Richmond, Va., during the Civil War. O’Melia was a confidante of the first lady. An intimate witness to history, she also has been much of a mystery. (AP Photo/The American Civil War Museum) (AP Photo/American Civil War Museum) Wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Loc: CS23-2, Box 7 (The Associated Press)

A photo has emerged of a key figure in the household of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

The image of Mary O'Melia is now in the possession of The American Civil War Museum in Richmond. The museum also oversees the White House of the Confederacy, where O'Melia served as housekeeper for Davis and his first lady, Varina Davis.

A woman who says her late husband was related to O'Melia provided the museum with the photograph.

O'Melia was a young widow with three children when she came to visit friends in Richmond in 1861. She became marooned in the capital of the Confederacy when Virginia seceded and she eventually became under the employ of the Davis'.

O'Melia was a confidante of the first lady.

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