Maudie Hopkins (December 7, 1914 – August 17, 2008) was an American woman believed to be the last known surviving widow of a Civil War veteran.
Born Maudie Cecilia Acklin in Baxter County, Arkansas, she married William M. Cantrell (aged 86) on February 2, 1934, when she was 19. Cantrell had enlisted in the Confederate States Army at age 16 in Pikeville, Kentucky, and served in General Samuel G. French's Battalion of the Virginia Infantry. He was captured in 1863 and was later part of a prisoner exchange. He had had a previous wife, who died in 1929.
Cantrell supported Maudie with a Confederate pension of $25 every two or three months. She inherited his home upon his death in 1937 but received no further pension benefits. She remarried later in 1937, and twice thereafter, and had three children.
It was not especially uncommon for young women in Arkansas to marry Confederate pensioners for purely financial reasons. In fact, it became something akin to a career choice. To curtail these sham marriages, in 1937 the state passed a law stating that women who married Civil War veterans would not be eligible for widows' pensions. (The law was later amended in 1939 to state that only widows born after 1870 were ineligible for pensions.) Hopkins generally kept her first marriage a secret, fearing the resulting gossip from marrying a much older man would damage her reputation.
After researching records from Arkansas and United States Census Bureau data, Hopkins was certified as the last Civil War widow by various historical organizations, most notably the United Daughters of the Confederacy. A spokeswoman for the UDC, Martha Boltz, said at the time that there may be two other unverified widows, one in Tennessee and another in North Carolina, but if they were still alive, they had chosen to remain in anonymity.
Hopkins, show here in a photo from 2004, died on August 17, 2008 in a nursing home in Lexa, Arkansas, aged 93.
Added: 23rd November 2011
Posted By: Lava1964