|Born||Maudie Cecilia Acklin
December 7, 1914
Baxter County, Arkansas
|Died||July 17, 2008
|Known for||Last known Civil War widow|
Born as 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 part of a prisoner exchange. He had had a previous wife, who died in 1929.
Cantrell supported her with a pension of US$25 every two or three months, and she inherited his home in 1937. She received no further pension benefits after his death. 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; in 1937 the state passed a law stating that women who married Civil War veterans would not be eligible for a widow's pension. The law was later changed in 1939 to state that widows born after 1870 were not eligible for pensions. Hopkins generally kept her first marriage a secret, fearing that the resulting gossip (of marrying a much older man) would damage her reputation.
After researching records from Arkansas and United States Census Bureau data, Hopkins was certified by various historical organizations, most notably the United Daughters of the Confederacy. A spokeswoman for the UDC, Martha Boltz, has said that there may be two other widows, one in Tennessee and another in North Carolina, but if they are still alive, they choose to remain in anonymity.
- Alberta Martin — one of the last known Confederate war widows, died 2004
- Gertrude Janeway — last Union Civil War widow, died 2003