Maudie Celia White Hopkins, one of the last known widows of a Confederate soldier, died on Aug. 17. Cause of death was not released. She was 93.
Born in Baxter County, Ark., Hopkins grew up in the Ozarks during the Great Depression. One of 10 children, she did laundry and cleaned houses to help her family put food on the table. One of her clients was William M. Cantrell, an elderly Confederate veteran and widower.
Cantrell was only 16 when he enlisted in the Confederate army to fight in the War Between the States. Assigned to Company A, French’s Battalion, of the Virginia Infantry, he was captured by the Yankees at Piketon in Kentucky, and sent to a prison camp in Ohio. Cantrell was eventually exchanged for a Northern prisoner, and sent home to Arkansas.
Despite their 67-year age difference, Cantrell offered his hand in marriage. If Hopkins agreed to care for him in his final years, he would bequeath his land and home to her. In 1934, she consented to the marriage of convenience with “Mr. Cantrell,” whom she described as a respectable man.
The couple lived off his Confederate pension of $25, which arrived in the mail every two to three months. When he died from a stroke in 1937, the pension benefits ended. Cantrell was true to his word, however, and gave his wife all of his worldly possessions, including 200 acres, some chickens and a mule named Kit. Hopkins survived by planting a vegetable garden and living off the land. The chickens provided enough eggs to sell, and she used the money to buy sugar and make jelly.
Hopkins wed three more times, and bore three children, two daughters and a son. A member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, she enjoyed sitting on her porch, attending religious services and making fried peach pies and applesauce cake.