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Last Known Surviving Widow of a Civil War Veteran Dies at the Age of 101

6 Jan 2021 12:04 PM | Anonymous

I don't read articles like this often. In fact, this probably will be the last one mentioning the death of a widow of a U.S. Civil War veteran:

Helen Viola Jackson, the last known widow of a Civil War soldier, has died. She was 101.

Helen Viola Jackson in an undated photo although obviously taken many years ago.

Jackson's death was confirmed in a statement by the Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival, which revealed that she died on Dec. 16 at Webco Manor Nursing Home in Marshfield, Missouri, where she had been living for many years.

Though she kept details of her life mostly private, Jackson recently disclosed to her minister while working out the details of her funeral that she had married James Bolin, a 93-year-old Civil War veteran, when she was 17 years old, the statement read.

At the time, Jackson had been providing daily care for Bolin, a widower who served as a private in the 14th Missouri Cavalry through the Civil War.

James Bolin died on June 18, 1939. Helen Viola Jackson never Jackson never claimed his pension and she also never remarried.

You can read more in an article by Joelle Goldstein in an article published in the website at:


  • 11 Jan 2021 12:59 PM | Anonymous
    The widow did not not apply for his pension because she was not entitled to it.

    The U.S. government had always intended to provide ongoing support for Union veterans and, upon their death, their widows (and other dependents) who were left in financial hardship. But the government was also well aware of the risk that the pension system could be abused.

    Starting in 1862, the government authorized the widow of a federal soldier to claim his pension if he had died in the line of duty - but only during her "widowhood", i.e., until/unless she remarried.

    In 1890, the qualifications were expanded to any disabled veteran (even if his disability was not related to his service) and, upon his death, to a widow who had been left with "no other means of support." So a widow's application was subject to a means test. She would be disqualified, for instance, if she had substantial cash savings, real estate that she could sell, etc. Most notably, a widow was only qualified if she had married the veteran PRIOR to the passage of that law (27 Jun 1890).

    In 1902, the eligibility was loosened to allow a pension to a widow of a Union veteran even if she had remarried - provided that the subsequent marriage had ended (by death or divorce) through no fault of her own, leaving her with no means of support. Again, the intent was to support indigent widows after a long marriage to a Union veteran.

    In 1920, the cutoff date for the marriage was moved to 27 Jun 1905.

    So it was well-established by law that their marriage in 1936 would never result in her receiving a widow's pension.
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