Maudie Cecilia Hopkins of Lexa, Ark., one of the last known Confederate widows, died Sunday at the Helena Medical Center in Helena, Ark. She was 93.
Mrs. Hopkins’ story came to light in The Washington Times on June 12, 2004, in an exclusive article that detailed the 1934 marriage of Civil War veteran William Cantrell and the then-teenage girl.
Mr. Cantrell had served in the 7th Virginia Infantry, and the aging veteran first hired Maudie Acklin to cook for him and do his laundry.
As time passed and he became more feeble, he asked her to move in with him, and when Miss Acklin declined for reasons of propriety, he suggested that they marry, saying he would deed his house and lot to her if she would.
They were married in August 1934 in Baxter County, Ark., when he was 86. Their married life continued until he died in 1937.
Mrs. Hopkins, a charming lady with sparkling eyes, always described Mr. Cantrell as “a good man, a nice man, a respectable person. He was good to me and I was good to him. I treated him just like a baby.”
Money was tight, she used to say, “we had a good life, but it was hard. He got a veteran’s pension. Sometimes it was $25 a month; sometimes it just came every two or three months. That made life hard. But we were happy.”
Mrs. Hopkins accepted her newfound fame gradually and with some reticence. It was a story she had never shared with the children she had in later marriages, but when she learned others were interested in this living link to history, she came to enjoy being interviewed and photographed by journalists from as far away as England.
She lived alone until three years ago, when she moved to an assisted living facility in Arkansas, and then as she further declined, into a full-care facility. She stayed relatively alert, talking with her family members and friends, although in the past few months she became less able to converse.
Funeral arrangements are pending. The funeral will be private, with burial in Sunset Memorial Park in Barton, Ark.