December 4, 1906
Danleys Crossroads, Alabama
|Died||May 31, 2004
|Known for||Widow of Confederate veteran|
Alberta Martin (December 4, 1906 – May 31, 2004) was once believed to be the last living widow of a Confederate soldier. This has been contradicted by Maudie Hopkins, but Mrs. Martin appears to have been the last widow whose marriage to a Confederate soldier produced offspring.
She was born as Alberta Stewart to sharecroppers in Danleys Crossroads, Alabama, a small sawmill town south of Montgomery. Her mother died when she was 11. At 18, she met a cabdriver named Howard Farrow and they had a son, but Howard died in a car accident in 1926.
After moving to Opp, Alabama, she met widower William Jasper Martin, born in 1845 and a veteran of the 4th Alabama Infantry, a Confederate unit during the Civil War. On December 10, 1927, the then-21-year-old Stewart married the 81-year-old Martin, primarily to get help raising her son and because his $50 per month Confederate pension check guaranteed her a degree of financial security. She gave birth to a second son, Willie Martin, 10 months after her wedding to William Jasper Martin, who was 82 at the time of the child's birth. William Jasper Martin died in 1931.
Two months after her second husband's death, Alberta Martin married Charlie Martin, William Jasper Martin's grandson from a much earlier marriage. Alberta and Charlie Martin were married for more than fifty years until his death in 1983, after which she moved to Elba, Alabama.
Symbol of Confederacy
She lived in obscurity for most of her life, but gained media attention starting in the 1990s. In the final years of her life she became a symbol for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, appearing at some of their rallies. The state of Alabama had long since stopped issuing pension checks to the widows of Confederate veterans, believing them all to be dead, but with assistance from Sons of Confederate Veterans and other supporters Alberta began receiving a Confederate widow's pension in 1996 and was awarded backpay as well.
Mrs. Martin appeared to relish the attention the media brought her and attended many Civil War themed re-enactments and other events as an honored guest. She lived her final years in a nursing home paid for by various supporters. Following her death at the age of 97 on May 12, 2004, she was given an "1860s style ceremony" with full honors as the widow of a Confederate veteran.
She was featured in one chapter of the book Confederates in the Attic.
- Maudie Hopkins, last known Confederate war widow. She died August 17, 2008.
- Gertrude Janeway, last known widow of a Union veteran of the Civil War. She died January 17, 2003.
- "BBC NEWS | Americas | Last Civil War widow dies at 97". BBC News. June 1, 2004. Retrieved 2012-01-29.