December 4, 1906
Danleys Crossroads, Alabama, U.S.
|Died||May 31, 2004
Enterprise, Alabama, U.S.
|Known for||Last surviving widow of a Confederate soldier whose marriage produced offspring
Penultimate surviving widow of a Confederate soldier
|Spouse(s)||Howard Farrow (1924/1925 – 1926; his death); 1 child
William Jasper Martin (1927 - 1931; his death); 1 child
Charlie Martin (1931 - 1983; his death)
Alberta Martin (née Stewart; 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 Martin appears to have been the last widow whose marriage to a Confederate soldier produced offspring.
She was born Alberta Stewart to sharecropper parents in Danleys Crossroads, Alabama, a small sawmill town south of Montgomery, and was commonly referred to as "Miz Alberta". Her mother died of cancer when she was 11. Martin dropped out of school after 7th grade to work in cotton and peanut fields, as well as in a cotton mill. At 18, she met a cabdriver named Howard Farrow and they had a son. Howard Farrow 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
Alberta Martin 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.
In 1996, two Sons of Confederate Veterans members, Russell Darden and Ken Chancey, paid her a visit, saw that she lived without air-conditioning and resolved to secure a Confederate widow's pension for her.
She 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 from a heart attack at the age of 97 on May 12, 2004, the thrice-widowed Martin was given an "1860s style ceremony" with full honors as the widow of a Confederate veteran. She was survived by her son William. 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.
- Lamb, David (2003-02-03). "Civil War's Last Widow Shares Her Memories". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
- Obituary: Alberta Martin, June 1, 2004; accessed September 26, 2017.
- McLellan, Dennis (2004-06-01). "Alberta Martin, 97; Believed to Be Last Confederate Widow". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
- "Last Civil War widow dies at 97". BBC News. June 1, 2004. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "Alberta Martin, last widow of Civil War veteran; at 97 - The Boston Globe". archive.boston.com. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
- Infoplease article: Last Civil War Widows, infoplease.com; accessed September 26, 2017.
- Last Civil War widow dies at 97, bbc.co.uk; accessed September 26, 2017
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