Davis Sites Gain Visits Amid Lincoln 200th Fervor

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From Abraham Lincoln's boyhood residence to the Mary Todd Lincoln house, visitors this year are flocking to Kentucky sites dedicated to the 16th president.

But Lincoln's Confederate counterpart, Jefferson Davis, is experiencing a similar resurgence. Kentucky, which claims both men as native sons and has statues of both in its Capitol Rotunda, isn't the only place experiencing a Davis boost.

"It'll be hard for anyone to approach the level of attention that Abraham Lincoln gets because he's always classified as one of our greatest presidents," said Paul Bradshaw, manager of a Davis historic site in Georgia. "But I think there's a trend to learn more about the other side."

Interest in both Civil War presidents seems on the rise, amid a two-year blitz surrounding Lincoln's 200th birthday next February. This June marked 200 years since the birth of Davis, who served as president of the Confederacy.
Attendance at Kentucky's Lincoln sites has increased about 18.1 percent, officials say. Lincoln's birthplace and boyhood home in Hodgenville, for example, had more than 105,000 visitors in the first six months this year, compared with about 89,000 during the same period last year.

In addition to the Lincoln museum, birthplace and boyhood home in Hodgenville, Kentucky has eight other museums and historic sites related to Lincoln, his family and associates. Together the sites have had more than 159,000 visitors this year. Mary Todd Lincoln's home in Lexington had more than 1,100 extra visitors this year while nearly 1,700 additional people went to the museum in Hodgenville, according to the Kentucky Historical Society.

Davis' memorial in Fairview, in southwestern Kentucky, meanwhile, has seen an increase in visitors by about 12 percent overall for the year, and a nearly 30 percent jump in June, the month he was born, said Mark Doss, the Davis memorial park manager. Doss said the park, which includes a 351-feet tall obelisk honoring Davis, had its "biggest month of June in the history of the park," tallying about 4,000 visitors.

"It's to be expected," Doss said. "There's a lot of people that study Jefferson Davis and in the last few years there's been a lot more interest in his role not just in the war, but in his experience before the war."

The Davis site in Georgia marks the place where Davis was captured by Union troops. Bradshaw, the manager, said he expects about 20,000 people or more will visit this year, compared with the normal attendance of between 12,000 and 15,000 people annually...

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