Monday, August 25, 2008

One of the last Civil War widows dies

A couple of years ago I read a story about a woman who died claiming to be the last Civil War widow. It turns out that she was not the last.

On August 17, one of the last Civil War widows died at the age of 93. Maddie White Hopkins (her name at the time of her death) married William M. Cantrell, a Confederate veteran, in Baxter County, Arkansas in 1934. She was 19, he was 86.

Her story is actually quite touching, describing the desperate situation in that part of the country during the Depression. She cleaned and did laundry for the elderly Civil War veteran. He offered to leave her his house and land if she married him and took care of him in his final years, which she agreed to do. He died 3 years later, in 1937.

Hopkins was reluctant to come forth, afraid of what people would say about her marriage. According to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, there are other Civil War widows who are still alive, and who shun publicity for similar reasons.

When you realize that there are still people around today who were married to a man who fought in the Civil War, you realize that 150 years isn't that long ago.

You can read the full story at the Charlottesville, VA Daily Progress web site.

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