10 Unlikely Simultaneous Historical Events
10 Unlikely Simultaneous Historical Events

10 Unlikely Simultaneous Historical Events

Khalid Elhassan - March 9, 2018

10 Unlikely Simultaneous Historical Events
Maudie Hopkins and William Cantrell. Spyders Den

The Last American Civil War Veteran’s Widow Died the Same Year Barack Obama Was Elected President

The American Civil War, driven primarily by the issue of black chattel slavery, ended in 1865 with a Union victory that put a de facto seal on the demise of slavery. 143 years later, America elected its first black president, Barrack Obama, in 2008. Incongruous as it might seem, a Civil War widow, who had been married to a Confederate soldier, was still alive in 2008.

Maudie White Hopkins (1914 – 2008), born Maudie Cecilia Acklin in Arkansas, grew up in an impoverished family of 10 children during the Great Depression in the hardscrabble Ozarks. To help put food on the table and make ends meet, a teenaged Maudie cleaned house and did laundry for an elderly Civil War veteran, William Cantrell, who had been widowed years earlier.

Cantrell had enlisted in the Confederate army at age 16, in Pikesville, Kentucky. He served in the Army of Tennessee in the Western Theater, where he was captured in 1863, held in a prison camp in Ohio, and eventually released in a prisoner exchange. He returned to civilian life after the war, moved to Arkansas to stay with relatives, eventually started a family, and after a long married life, was widowed in 1929. In 1934, when Cantrell was 86 and Maudie was 19, he offered to leave her his house and land, if she would marry him and take care of him in his later years.

It was not too uncommon for young women in Arkansas at the time to marry Civil War pensioners, so Maudie accepted. For much of her life, she generally kept that marriage a secret, to avoid gossip about her having once married a much older man, and fearing that people would think less of her as a result. In her later years, however, she openly acknowledged the marriage. As she put it in a 2004 Associated Press interview: “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. … I didn’t do anything wrong. 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“.

He supported her with his Confederate pension of $25 every two or three months. The pension benefits ended upon Cantrell’s death in 1937, but true to his promise, he left her his house and land upon his death. Maudie Hopinks remarried three more times and had three children – two daughters and a son. She died in a nursing home on August 7th, 2008, a month before Obama was elected president.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Sources & Further Reading

92 Moose FM, February 28th, 2014 – Betty White Is Older Than Sliced Bread! That & Other Fun ‘Time Facts’

All That is Interesting – The Eternal War of the Japanese Holdouts

Mike Dash History – Final Straggler: The Japanese Soldier Who Outlasted Hiroo Onoda

Medium – The Last Japanese Soldier to Surrender

Huffington Post, February 22nd, 2014 – 8 Surprising Historical Facts That Will Change Your Concept of Time Forever

National Geographic, November 1st, 2016 – Here’s What Happened the Last Time the Cubs Won a World Series

National Geographic, July 9th, 2017 – We Could Resurrect the Woolly Mammoth: Here’s How

NBC News, December 17th, 2003 – Aviation Heroes Salute the Wright Brothers

PBS – 8 Things You Didn’t Know About Orville Wright

Public Radio International – What the World Was Like When the Cubs Last Won a World Series

Reddit – What Are Two Events In History That You Never Would’ve Guessed Happened at the Same Time?

Time Magazine, July 7th, 2015 – How Sliced Bread Became ‘The Greatest Thing’

Vanity Fair, June 1st, 2016 – See Rare Footage of Queen Elizabeth II Meeting Marilyn Monroe

Waguespack, Andrea, Houston Chronicle – Historical Events You Had No Idea Happened at Around the Same Time

Wikipedia – Chuck Yeager

Wikipedia – Sliced Bread

World Atlas – Did Woolly Mammoths Still Roam Parts of the Earth When the Great Pyramids Were Built?