- The Washington Times - Monday, June 14, 2004

ELBA (AP) — Alberta Martin, long thought to be the last widow of a Civil War veteran, has been buried in a 1860s-style ceremony complete with war re-enactors.

Mrs. Martin, 97, died May 31, nearly 140 years after the Civil War ended. She was a 21-year-old widow with a young child when she met and married 81-year-old Confederate veteran William Jasper Martin in 1927.

After two days of lying in repose at the First White House of the Confederacy in Montgomery, a funeral service was held Saturday at the First Assembly of God Church in Elba.

Members of Company E, 15th Alabama re-enactor group carried Mrs. Martin’s flag-draped casket to a cemetery, followed by women dressed in black Southern belle dresses with black veils covering their faces.

Mrs. Martin’s caretaker, Ken Chancey, gave her eulogy, saying she was very witty and loved a good joke. He said Mrs. Martin, who grew up poor and often went without shoes, was content with whatever she had.

Mr. Martin died in 1932 after having one child with his wife. Two months later, Mrs. Martin married her late husband’s grandson, Charlie Martin, who died in 1983.

She lived in obscurity and poverty most of her life until members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) learned about her past in 1996. They started taking her to conventions and turned her into the belle of Civil War history buffs.

“It’s one of our last living links to a grand old lady,” said SCV member Gerald Moore. “She was moving, she was a great person with an outgoing personality, and she is a piece of Southern pride.”

Mrs. Martin had been thought to be the last widow of a Civil War veteran, until Confederate heritage groups learned in May of Maudie Hopkins, 89, of Lexa, Ark. Mrs. Hopkins, 19 at the time, was married in 1934 to William M. Cantrell of the Virginia Infantry, who was born in 1847. Mr. Cantrell died in 1937.

The last known widow of a Union veteran, Gertrude Janeway, died last year in Tennessee at 93.

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