1863 — Virginia and Arkansas
In 1994, a movie titled Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All was released. Based on a fictional work by Allan Gurganus, the movie follows the lives of "Capt" William Marsden who married a much younger girl, Lucy. In the movie, Marsden never got over the war. Although this book is fictional, it does bring to our attention the fact that there are widows of Civil War soldiers still alive today. One such person is Maudie Hopkins.
In 1934, 19 year old Maudie Acklin married William M. Cantrell, the 86 year old man she had been keeping house for. He died 3 years later, leaving her the house and 200 acres, and very few stories about his participation in the Civil War.
Cantrell was born in 1847 in Virginia and enlisted, at the age of 16, in French's Battalion which was then in Pikeville, KY. On 15 April 1863, not long after he enlisted, he and about 90 other men were captured and sent to Camp Chase, OH. On 13 May 1863 he was ordered to be exchanged. After the war, he married. The 1870 census shows him and his wife Matilda C., and a 4 year old child named Alexander Crabtree, living in Floyd County, KY. He is listed as a farmer but 10 years later he and his wife are both listed as artists and still living in Floyd County. By 1900, they were living in Matney, Baxter County, AR. Other than young Alexander Crabtree, no children are present in their home during these censuses. Matilda died in 1929, and the aging William hired a young girl, Maudie Acklin (also from Baxter County) to keep house for him. Four years later, when she was 19 and he was 86, they married. She never told many people about their marriage because of local gossip concerning their age difference. He died in 1937 and she remarried twice.
According to Greg Ross in History, Maudie was still alive on 4 Sep 2007! She is 92 years old!
You can see his Civil War record by clicking on the Footnote link to the right. These records verify his age (16), height (5'4"), and color of his eyes, hair and complexion, and the date and place of "arrest" (15 Apr 1863 at Piketon, KY). His signature is marked by an X, indicating perhaps that he could not write his name; however, censuses do not indicate that he was illiterate so he may just have been absent when his signature was required.