The last living widow of a Civil War soldier, Helen Viola Jackson, died on December 16, 2020 at the age of 101. In 1936, in the midst of the Great Depression, she married to 93-year-old James Bolin, who had served the 14th Missouri Cavalry. Jackson was 17. She met him when her father volunteered her to help the elderly Bolin with basic chores.
To repay her kindness, Bolin offered to marry Jackson, who came from very humble origins, so she would become eligible to receive his pension after he died. Following the marriage, which the couple never made public, fearing damage to Jackson’s reputation and Bolin’s death three years later, Jackson decided against applying for his pension due to conflicts with Bolin’s family.
The marriage was recorded in Bolin’s family Bible and other documents verified by Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War.