Fred Brown of the Knoxville News Sentinel writes today about the vanishing number of people who were fathered by Civil War veterans. An organization called the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War claims that 26 women are still alive who are direct descendants of the boys in blue. (You can see the Daughters’ website here: http://www.duvcw.org/) Four of the Daughters live in East Tennessee.
Other daughters exist, apparently, but they are not members of the group–
Perhaps that is why the card-carrying members are dubbed “Real Daughters.”
Civil War veterans, it seems, sired children far beyond the years when most men experience fatherhood. Take, for example, the woman featured in Brown’s article, Minnie Malicote. She is 98, which means she was born in 1908. The article says her father died at age 90 in 1936, which makes him 62 when she was born. There was no mention in the article of Mrs. Malicote’s mother, or how old she was when Minnie was born.
Veterans of the Civil War received pensions, which could be passed on to their wives. In poverty-ridden times and places, those pensions no doubt caused some young women to marry bewhiskered veterans. The last known Civil War widow was Gertrude Janeway, who died in January, 2003 in Blaine, Tennessee. She married her husband in 1927, when she was 18 and he was 81.
While the dwindling number of daughters, real or otherwise, certainly should be honored, my heart goes out to their mothers, those young women who, for whatever reason, married those old coots and bore their children.
Not all of the victims of war suffer on battlefields.