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Last known widow of a Civil War soldier dies at 101

This file photo shows, US flags are planted at grave sites at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in 2019, ahead of the Memorial Day weekend. Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie wouldn't commit to removing three headstones containing swastikas and messages honoring Adolf Hitler from the graves of German prisoners of war on Thursday, May 28, 2020. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

Helen Viola Jackson, the one-time spouse of an elderly Union soldier who wished to leave her his pension, died last month at 101 as the last known Civil War widow, according to Sons of Union Veterans.

Jackson died Dec. 16. at the Webco Manor nursing home in Marshfield, Mo.

She was 17 when she married James Bolin, a 93-year-old who had served in the 14th Missouri Cavalry, according to the Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival, where she volunteered.

Bolin wanted to pass his pension on to Jackson after she volunteered to do chores for him, and they did not live together after they married in 1936, according to the festival. He died three years later, and she never collected his pension.

Jackson was one of 10 children raised on a family farm near Niangua, Mo. She never remarried.

A charter member of the Elkland Independent Methodist Church, she did not publicly share her story until late in her life.

She said in 2018, “I didn’t feel that it was that important, and I didn’t want a bunch of gossip about it,” according to a statement published by the festival.

“It was during the Depression and times were hard,” she said of her marriage to Bolin, according to the statement. “He said that it might be my only way of leaving the farm.”


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