The last US Civil War Widow died in 2020. The practice of a young woman marrying an older man for his Civil War pension as a dependent was common practice in the early 20th century

American Civil War widows who survived into the 21st century

William Cantrell and his wife Maudie (later Hopkins) in 1936. Their ages, about 88 and 21.

At least four widows of veterans of the American Civil War are known to have survived into the 21st century. All were born in the 20th century and married their husbands while the women were still young and the men were in advanced age. This practice was not uncommon at the time due to the possibility of receiving pensions as dependents of Civil War veterans. Some of these unions were in name only, while others lived together as married couples.

List of Civil War widows who survived into the 21st century




After the

Civil War


Age at






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10 thoughts on “The last US Civil War Widow died in 2020. The practice of a young woman marrying an older man for his Civil War pension as a dependent was common practice in the early 20th century”

  1. Shuckles116

    An exceptional fact to consider, since he was 93 at the time of his marriage, and she was 17, then she went on to live until 101 herself – a full 155 years AFTER the Civil War ended!

  2. HoopOnPoop

    Makes me think of President Tyler. He was the 10th President, in office from 1841-1845. He was born in 1790. He still has a living grandson, and another just died a few months ago.

  3. ST616

    In 2004 it was thought that the last widow of a US Civil War veteran had died, then they found another one. When she died in 2008, it was thought that she was the last one. Then they found yet another one and she died. It’s not impossible that there are still living widows who haven’t been publicly identified.

  4. _crash0verride

    FWIW, I just watched a video interview with her shortly after she died and they said in the video she never collected the pension because she didn’t feel right about doing so.

  5. GoliathPrime

    Same reason my Great Uncle married a 15 year old when he was drafted for WW2. Her family was friends of our family and they were trying to make the best out of a bad situation. He knew her and grew up with her, but they never really intended to get married. It was all about the pension and benefits if he died in combat.

    She started writing to him during the war and they became pen pals. When he got back, they decided to give it a go since they didn’t hate each other and had become friends during the war. She was 18 at that point so it wasn’t so weird.

    They took a year long honeymoon and traveled from the bottom of South America all the way back to the US, having zany adventures, canoeing, mountain climbing, sailing and having the time of their lives. They crossed back over at Mexicali, and they bought a sulcata tortoise named “Rose” with a painted shell for the backyard garden he would plant for her.

    When I finally met my great uncle, that tortoise was still alive. Unfortunately, his wife had passed on and I never got to meet her. Still, from the old photos it looked like they lived more in that year than most people do in their lives.

  6. maybeathrowwhoknows

    She was 17 he was 93. Wow just wow.

  7. vtchrisman

    This Wikipedia article headline is somewhat misleading. They are the widows of veterans of the Civil War, not Civil War widows, which implies their husbands died in the war, which was clearly not the case here.

    My tired brain was broken for a few seconds there.

  8. MostlyDeku

    This was the woman who was a family friend or a caretaker, and because he couldn’t pay her, he married her so she got his pension, right?

  9. kr9969

    It’s crazy that the U.S. government has been paying pensions for civil war veterans up until last year.

    Edit: since people are calling me out, I’m taking about a different lady who was a daughter of a veteran. She died in April 2020

  10. Billy_T_Wierd

    This just shows you how recent the past really is. Someone with a smart phone was married to someone who fought in the Civil War.

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