Last Civil War Widows

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

The last-known Union widow, Gertrude Janeway, died in Jan. 2003 in Tennessee. John Janeway joined the Union army in 1864 and was briefly a POW at Andersonville. The couple married in 1927, after waiting three years until Gertrude turned 18. John was 81.

The person thought to be the last-known Confederate widow, Alberta Martin, was born Dec, 4, 1906, and died at age 97 in Alabama on May 31, 2004. In 1927, at age 21, she married William Jasper Martin, then 81. Martin joined the Confederate army in May 1864. Upon her husband's death, she married his grandson from his first marriage.

The publicity surrounding Alberta Martin's death prompted relatives of Maudie Celia Hopkins of Arkansas to reveal that the 89-year-old was in fact the last civil war widow. Hopkins married 86-year-old William Cantrell on Feb. 2, 1934, when she was 19. She did so to escape poverty, but kept quiet about the unusual marriage, “I thought people would gossip about it.” Cantrell, who served in the Virginia Infantry, supported her with his Confederate pension of “$25 every two or three months” until his death in 1937. Hopkins has outlived three other husbands.

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