Maudie White Hopkins, 93; was a widow of a Confederate Army soldier

By Peggy Harris
Associated Press / August 20, 2008
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - 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.

Ms. Hopkins, the mother of three children from a second marriage, died Sunday at a hospital in Helena-West Helena, said Rodger Hooker of Roller-Citizens Funeral Home.

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

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

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 interview in 2004.

Ms. 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," Ms. Hopkins said 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."

Military records show Cantrell served in the Virginia Infantry. He enlisted in the Confederate Army at age 16 in Pikeville, Ky.

In the interview, Ms. Hopkins described her first husband as "a good, clean, respectable man."

Baxter County records show they were married in January 1934 by a justice of the peace. Ms. Hopkins 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 leaves two daughters and a son.

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