MARTIN
Jamie Martin  /  AP file
Alberta Martin is shown at a nursing home in Enterprise, Ala., in this April 7, 2003, file photo.
updated 5/13/2004 6:10:01 PM ET 2004-05-13T22:10:01

The last known living widow of a Civil War veteran suffered a heart attack and is unable to talk, her caretaker said Thursday.

Alberta Martin, 97, has been in Enterprise Medical Center since suffering the heart attack May 7. She can open her eyes but can’t talk, said the caretaker, Ken Chancey.

“The prognosis is not good,” he said, “but Mrs. Martin is a fighter.”

Martin, known for years as the last Confederate widow, became the last Civil War widow when the last known widow of a Union soldier, Gertrude Janeway, died early last year.

“She’s the end of an era that is so vital to our history,” Chancey said.

Martin was a 21-year-old widow with a young son when she married 82-year-old William Jasper Martin, a former Confederate Army private, in 1927 in southern Alabama. They were married nearly five years and had one son before the veteran died in 1932.

Two months later, she married William Martin’s grandson from a previous marriage. Alberta and Charlie Martin were married 50 years before he died in 1983.

Afterward, Martin lived in obscurity in Elba, making do off her last husband’s pension as a World War II soldier. She told people about her Civil War connection but received little notice.

In 1996, Chancey, an Enterprise dentist, and other members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans took up her cause and got state officials to approve her for a Confederate widow’s pension that was still contained in Alabama law.

Martin made regular appearances at Confederate heritage events, traveling from Gettysburg to St. Louis, often with a Confederate battle flag draped over her lap.

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