Image: Maudie White Hopkins
Danny Johnston  /  ASSOCIATED PRESS
Maudie White Hopkins, shown here during a 2004 interview, married Confederate veteran William M. Cantrell, who was 67 years her senior, in 1934.
updated 8/19/2008 6:04:35 PM ET 2008-08-19T22:04:35

Maudie White Hopkins, who grew up during the Depression in the hardscrabble Ozarks and married a Confederate army veteran 67 years her senior, has died. She was 93.

Hopkins, the mother of three children from a second marriage who loved to make fried peach pies and applesauce cakes, died Sunday at a hospital in Helena-West Helena, said Rodger Hooker of the Roller-Citizens Funeral Home.

Other Confederate widows are still living, but they don't want any publicity, Martha Boltz of the United Daughters of the Confederacy said Tuesday.

Hopkins grew up in a family of 10 children, did laundry and cleaned house for William M. Cantrell, an elderly Confederate veteran in Baxter County whose wife had died years earlier.

Married at age 19
When he offered to leave his land and home to her if she would marry him and care for him in his later years, she said yes. She was 19; he was 86.

"After Mr. Cantrell died I took a little old mule he had and plowed me a vegetable garden and had plenty of vegetables to eat. It was hard times; you had to work to eat," she said in an Associated Press interview in 2004.

Image: Maudie Cantrell and William Cantrel
Maudie Cantrell, right, and her husband William Cantrell, a Confederate Civil War Veteran, pose in Advance, Ark., in 1936.
Hopkins later married Winfred White and started a family. In all, she was married four times.

For decades, she didn't speak about her marriage to Cantrell, concerned that people would think less of her. Four years ago, she came around after a Confederate widow in Alabama died amid claims that she was the last widow from that war.

"I didn't do anything wrong," Hopkins told the AP in 2004. "I've worked hard my whole life and did what I had to, what I could, to survive. I didn't want to talk about it for a while because I didn't want people to gossip about it. I didn't want people to make it out to be worse than it was."

'Good, clean, respectable man'
Military records show Cantrell served in Company A, French's Battalion, of the Virginia Infantry. He enlisted in the Confederate army at age 16 in Pikeville, Ky., and was captured the same year and sent to a prison camp in Ohio. He was exchanged for a Northern prisoner, and after the war moved to Arkansas to live with relatives.

In the interview, Hopkins referred to her first husband as "Mr. Cantrell" and described him as "a good, clean, respectable man." She recalled one description he gave of life as a Civil War soldier, how lice infested his sock supports and "ate a trail around his legs."

Baxter County records show they were married in January 1934 by a justice of the peace. She said Cantrell supported her with his Confederate pension of "$25 every two or three months" and left her his home when he died in 1937.

The pension benefits ended at Cantrell's death, according to records filed with the state Pension Board.

She is survived by two daughters and a son.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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