The last Civil War Veteran – Was He Or Wasn’t He??

J. D. Stevens

Corporal
Joined
Dec 11, 2016
Location
Deep In The Heart of Texas
For those who enjoy a good genealogy or CW service record mystery, the sleuths among you might enjoy proving or disproving the last surviving veteran of the War Between the States. While doing some unrelated research on Find-A-Grave, I stumbled across the following FAG memorial #7590332 for Walter Washington Green Williams. The item which caught my attention was a picture of a Texas State historical marker. Never one to pass up a historical marker, I was surprised to read; “Reputed to have been the last surviving soldier of the Civil War ………….. was a forage master of the celebrated Hood’s Texas Brigade.” As a member of Hood’s Texas Brigade Association, this was excellent information especially since I had never heard about Walter Williams. I read the marker inscription two or three times and each time the first word on the historical marker jumped out at me. “Reputed” was more than I could let go, so I decided to dig a little deeper into the service of the oldest CW veteran. What was intended be a simple search would turn into a long list of confusing and contradictory documents, newspaper articles, and more questions.

Walter W. Williams applied for a Texas pension on August 11, 1932 and it was approved on August 20. The following line items are from the application page.
Line 1: What is your age: ___ 86 years of age __
Line 10: Date of enlistment and discharge: ___ “enlisted about 11 months before war closed and remained in service until Gen Lee surrendered” ___
Line 11: Letter of your company and number of regiment: ___”Company C, 5th​ Rgt, Hood’s Brigade” ___
Line 12: If transferred, provide details: ___”I was transferred to Gen Quantrill’s command about May or June 1865” ___
Line 13: What branch of service did you enlist ___”Cavalry” ___

Walter’s pension #50890 consists of 79 pages of mostly items added years after it was approved until a few years after he died in the 1959. On August 5, 1939, seven years after the pension was approved, the Robertson County Judge took a sworn deposition of Walter W. Williams, age 92. Walter swore he was born in Adawanda (Itawamba) County Mississippi on November 14, 1846. “I joined Company C of the 5th​ Texas Regiment of Hood’s Texas Brigade at Blue Mountain Tennessee about 11 months before the war closed. I served about 5 months and then was transferred to General Quantrill’s command and served in Company O of said command as well as I can now remember until the close of the war.

Having read hundreds of pensions, I know the old veterans did not always remember exact dates, exact length of service, and sometimes their unit numbers forty or fifty years later. Keeping this in mind, those who know a little about CW timelines and unit histories will question some of the statements made by Walter.

According to the FAG memorial, Walter’s parents were George W. Williams (1795–1890) and Nancy Marcus Williams (1816–1910). They are listed in the 1850 Federal Census, but there is no Walter living with his parents. He is enumerated on the 1860, 1870, and 1880 Census in his parent’s household and his age is listed as 5, 15, and 24 years respectively. Walter is found in the Federal Census enumerated every 10 years between 1860 and 1940 except 1890. All eight of these census records list Walter, Walter “G.”, or W. “G.” Williams. He is never listed with a middle initial “W.” Walter’s age in each census remained consistent with being born about 1855 until 1920 when his age jumped seven years and shows he was born in 1848. The age listed in the 1930 and 1940 censes indicate Walter was born about 1850 and 1848 respectively.

The oldest Union veteran was Albert Woolson of Duluth, Mn. who died in 1956 at the age of 109. The second oldest Confederate veteran was John B. Salling of Slant, Va. who died on March 16, 1959 at the age of 112.

In May 1956, Walter had been the crowd favorite as he took part in the Armed Forces Day parade in Houston. He rode in an open car wearing his brand new Confederate uniform given him by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. In 1956, President Eisenhower made Walter an Honorary General. In 1957, Walter was awarded a 3-inch medal authorized by the 84th​ Congress. Walter Williams died on December 19, 1959 at the age of 117 (?) at his daughter’s home in Houston. The nation’s flags were ordered flown at half-mast by executive order in honor of the Civil War’s last survivor. The president said, “No longer are they the blue and the gray. All rest together as Americans in honored glory." Walter’s body lay in state in a special designed casket of solid copper tinged in gray and a velvet lining in the rotunda of the Civil Courts Building in Houston for two days. Once an hour, a smartly dressed changing of the guard was executed. A team of 6 officers and 132 specially picked men from the 4th​ Army made up the honor guard. Hundreds filed by his casket to pay their last respects. A military procession that included a 25 member SUV drum and bugle from Ohio took Walter’s body through downtown Houston streets to the South Main Baptist Church for his funeral. Immediately after the funeral, Walter was taken to the small town of Franklin, Texas where graveside military rites were performed. Tributes came from many public officials along with messages of sympathy from citizens of all walks of life. The governors of Texas, South Carolina, and a Texas US Senator attended in person. Representatives from the 11 Southern states were sent to attend the funeral.

Walter Williams had a number of detractors who claimed he never served during the war for various reasons. My initial thoughts leaned to a possibility of two men with a fairly common name of Walter Williams became intertwined. Searching online military and census records for Mississippi, Texas, and Tennessee found a considerable number of Williams with a first name Walter or the initials “W” or “W G” or “W W” or no initials.

I have an opinion about Walter Williams based on my research, but I would like to hear what the experts on this forum think. The information for this little essay was gathered from several online sources such as FAG, FOLD3, Ancestry, TV news scripts, and over a hundred digitized newspaper articles.

Walter Williams Texas State Historical Marker
Walter W. Williams_Historical Marker.jpg


Walter Williams in old age wearing a Confederate Uniform
Walter W. Williams_Denison (Tx) Prress_27Mar1959_Sole CW Survivor.JPG
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
For those who enjoy a good genealogy or CW service record mystery, the sleuths among you might enjoy proving or disproving the last surviving veteran of the War Between the States. While doing some unrelated research on Find-A-Grave, I stumbled across the following FAG memorial #7590332 for Walter Washington Green Williams. The item which caught my attention was a picture of a Texas State historical marker. Never one to pass up a historical marker, I was surprised to read; “Reputed to have been the last surviving soldier of the Civil War ………….. was a forage master of the celebrated Hood’s Texas Brigade.” As a member of Hood’s Texas Brigade Association, this was excellent information especially since I had never heard about Walter Williams. I read the marker inscription two or three times and each time the first word on the historical marker jumped out at me. “Reputed” was more than I could let go, so I decided to dig a little deeper into the service of the oldest CW veteran. What was intended be a simple search would turn into a long list of confusing and contradictory documents, newspaper articles, and more questions.

Walter W. Williams applied for a Texas pension on August 11, 1832 and it was approved on August 20. The following line items are from the application page.
Line 1: What is your age: ___ 86 years of age __
Line 10: Date of enlistment and discharge: ___ “enlisted about 11 months before war closed and remained in service until Gen Lee surrendered” ___
Line 11: Letter of your company and number of regiment: ___”Company C, 5th​ Rgt, Hood’s Brigade” ___
Line 12: If transferred, provide details: ___”I was transferred to Gen Quantrill’s command about May or June 1865” ___
Line 13: What branch of service did you enlist ___”Cavalry” ___

Walter’s pension #50890 consists of 79 pages of mostly items added years after it was approved until a few years after he died in the 1959. On August 5, 1939, seven years after the pension was approved, the Robertson County Judge took a sworn deposition of Walter W. Williams, age 92. Walter swore he was born in Adawanda (Itawamba) County Mississippi on November 14, 1846. “I joined Company C of the 5th​ Texas Regiment of Hood’s Texas Brigade at Blue Mountain Tennessee about 11 months before the war closed. I served about 5 months and then was transferred to General Quantrill’s command and served in Company O of said command as well as I can now remember until the close of the war.

Having read hundreds of pensions, I know the old veterans did not always remember exact dates, exact length of service, and sometimes their unit numbers forty or fifty years later. Keeping this in mind, those who know a little about CW timelines and unit histories will question some of the statements made by Walter.

According to the FAG memorial, Walter’s parents were George W. Williams (1795–1890) and Nancy Marcus Williams (1816–1910). They are listed in the 1850 Federal Census, but there is no Walter living with his parents. He is enumerated on the 1860, 1870, and 1880 Census in his parent’s household and his age is listed as 5, 15, and 24 years respectively. Walter is found in the Federal Census enumerated every 10 years between 1860 and 1940 except 1890. All eight of these census records list Walter, Walter “G.”, or W. “G.” Williams. He is never listed with a middle initial “W.” Walter’s age in each census remained consistent with being born about 1855 until 1920 when his age jumped seven years and shows he was born in 1848. The age listed in the 1930 and 1940 censes indicate Walter was born about 1850 and 1848 respectively.

The oldest Union veteran was Albert Woolson of Duluth, Mn. who died in 1956 at the age of 109. The second oldest Confederate veteran was John B. Salling of Slant, Va. who died on March 16, 1959 at the age of 112.

In May 1956, Walter had been the crowd favorite as he took part in the Armed Forces Day parade in Houston. He rode in an open car wearing his brand new Confederate uniform given him by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. In 1956, President Eisenhower made Walter an Honorary General. In 1957, Walter was awarded a 3-inch medal authorized by the 84th​ Congress. Walter Williams died on December 19, 1959 at the age of 117 (?) at his daughter’s home in Houston. The nation’s flags were ordered flown at half-mast by executive order in honor of the Civil War’s last survivor. The president said, “No longer are they the blue and the gray. All rest together as Americans in honored glory." Walter’s body lay in state in a special designed casket of solid copper tinged in gray and a velvet lining in the rotunda of the Civil Courts Building in Houston for two days. Once an hour, a smartly dressed changing of the guard was executed. A team of 6 officers and 132 specially picked men from the 4th​ Army made up the honor guard. Hundreds filed by his casket to pay their last respects. A military procession that included a 25 member SUV drum and bugle from Ohio took Walter’s body through downtown Houston streets to the South Main Baptist Church for his funeral. Immediately after the funeral, Walter was taken to the small town of Franklin, Texas where graveside military rites were performed. Tributes came from many public officials along with messages of sympathy from citizens of all walks of life. The governors of Texas, South Carolina, and a Texas US Senator attended in person. Representatives from the 11 Southern states were sent to attend the funeral.

Walter Williams had a number of detractors who claimed he never served during the war for various reasons. My initial thoughts leaned to a possibility of two men with a fairly common name of Walter Williams became intertwined. Searching online military and census records for Mississippi, Texas, and Tennessee found a considerable number of Williams with a first name Walter or the initials “W” or “W G” or “W W” or no initials.

I have an opinion about Walter Williams based on my research, but I would like to hear what the experts on this forum think. The information for this little essay was gathered from several online sources such as FAG, FOLD3, Ancestry, TV news scripts, and over a hundred digitized newspaper articles.

Walter Williams Texas State Historical Marker
View attachment 399466

Walter Williams in old age wearing a Confederate Uniform
View attachment 399467

I made this post about John Salling at another site some years ago. True, he never wore a uniform, had his name on a muster roll, and in his own words, never saw a Yankee, let alone shot at one, I believe he actually did what he said he did.

https://www.americancivilwarforum.com/john-salling-the-confederacys-last-peter-monkey-13254.html
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
I love these stories, but honestly I only take them "with a grain of salt".

As I'm sure you are aware, virtually none of these poor souls can ever provide documentation about their claims.

I'm not saying his claim is incorrect, only very suspect.

We have a similar claim within our family.
One of our servants achieved international popularity as the last remaining slave of the Old South.

He claimed to be 130 years old when he died in 1971.
One hundred thirty years old ??????
I never believed it.

I've researched official census records, what's left of our family records, ect.
But his name never appears anywhere.


No doubt he was the son of slaves, but not an enslaved person himself ... IMHO.

Anyway, many took his claims as the truth.

His grave monument reflects the opinion of many.



318bca06772300bd9a1a373187378832--human-being-historical-photos.jpg

Apologies.

I not trying to detract from your thread about Walter Williams.

But from first hand experience, I think some of these claimants were suffering from Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia.
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
I love these stories, but honestly I only take them "with a grain of salt".

As I'm sure you are aware, virtually none of these poor souls can ever provide documentation about their claims.

I'm not saying his claim is incorrect, only very suspect.

We have a similar claim within our family.
One of our servants achieved international popularity as the last remaining slave of the Old South.

He claimed to be 130 years old when he died in 1971.
One hundred thirty years old ??????
I never believed it.

I've researched official census records, what's left of our family records, ect.
But his name never appears anywhere.


No doubt he was the son of slaves, but not an enslaved person himself ... IMHO.

Anyway, many took his claims as the truth.

His grave monument reflects the opinion of many.



View attachment 399468
Apologies.

I not trying to detract from your thread about Walter Williams.

But from first hand experience, I think some of these claimants were suffering from Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia.
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/49460775/sylvester-magee
 

lupaglupa

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
So half my family hail from Itawamba County in Mississippi. Which means the first think I want to know is - why did he not enlist until that close to the end of the War and why did he do it in Tennessee with a unit from Texas? Yes he was young but that would not have been impossible to overcome and certainly there were plenty of companies raised in Itawamba and re-supplied with folks from Itawamba. His claim that he waited until he was 18 and then travelled to join up seems very odd. Especially as late in the War Itawamba was, while nominally under Federal control, constantly travelled by troops from both sides. A potential soldier would have stuck out on the road. Complicating all this is that there is no Blue Mountain in Tennessee, but there is one in Mississippi, which would honestly make more sense as it's relatively close to Itawamba (especially then as the county lines changed after the War).
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
So half my family hail from Itawamba County in Mississippi. Which means the first think I want to know is - why did he not enlist until that close to the end of the War and why did he do it in Tennessee with a unit from Texas? Yes he was young but that would not have been impossible to overcome and certainly there were plenty of companies raised in Itawamba and re-supplied with folks from Itawamba. His claim that he waited until he was 18 and then travelled to join up seems very odd. Especially as late in the War Itawamba was, while nominally under Federal control, constantly travelled by troops from both sides. A potential soldier would have stuck out on the road. Complicating all this is that there is no Blue Mountain in Tennessee, but there is one in Mississippi, which would honestly make more sense as it's relatively close to Itawamba (especially then as the county lines changed after the War).
Great observations !

There are too many dynamics at play in Itawamba County, Mississippi for an exact answer.

I can only speculate about a few scenarios :

Geography:

Itawamba County is in the extreme Northeast portion of Mississippi. The land up there is not suitable for Deep South cash crops like cotton, sugarcane, or rice. Being in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, most of those folks could never relate to the mega plantations in the southern/delta parts of the state. Think the attitudes of many in East Tennessee. Therefore IMHO, many in that part of Mississippi tried to avoid military service as long as possible. "Not their fight" so to speak ... at first.


Circumstance:

Starting with Shiloh, North Mississippi was always "in the middle" of the War.
They suffered depredations from both sides. I'm sure that changed many young minds about loyalty.

AGE:

No doubt he could have joined either army at a much younger age, but he was probably like most, he didn't see a reason to
possibly lose his life over something that didn't directly concern him.

Texas in Tennessee.

That was how the CSA Western strategy unfolded.

All CSA western states were the core group of what was left of the CS Army of Tennessee.
So joining a Texas regiment at that point would have been common for many men.

These are only my thoughts.

To be honest, I doubt anyone will ever know the details about his motivations.
But I can say , again IMHO . . . your relative did his duty as he saw fit !


 

Rusk County Avengers

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
I'm pretty sure Williams wasn't a Confederate soldier.

There's a recording of an interview of him somewhere where he says he started in "Hood's Texas Cavalry" which never existed, its also a BIG stretch to imagine a man in the ANV transferred to Quantrill's command, which wasn't a real command in any form just a group(s) around battalion sized with numbers fluctuating constantly, plus its a safe bet a Texas soldier wouldn't transfer to a Missouri Partisan one. Soldiers rarely transferred to units not of they're State, the only exceptions being if they were from that State or an officer, which Williams wasn't. Never mind him referring to Quantrill as "General" which is out there.

Plus his saying "Company O" is almost laughable as a regiment comprised ten companies, on occasion as many as twelve. Quantrill's command never had a Company structure in the military sense, and the tenth letter of the alphabet is "J" and "O" would be the fifteenth company, unheard of mostly for any CW era regiment or command.

Back in the 1950's it was pretty common for older men to make wild claims of the 19th Century. Like a dozen claimants saying they were either Jesse James, or rode with him and similar stuff concerning Billy the Kid. (I will personally exempt "Brushy Bill" Roberts on the Billy the Kid part, too many things suspicious of the Kid's death for the time, and Roberts had the same scars.) Just because someone is old doesn't mean they're wise old good people, plenty of liars grew old back then and now. I suspect Williams lied. He got a pension and a lot of honors for it though!

I'd love to think of Williams as the real deal, it'd be wonderous, but I just can't see it from where I sit. His claims are so absurd and smack of someone who loved Dime Novels and early western movies instead of real life experiences.
 

J. D. Stevens

Corporal
Joined
Dec 11, 2016
Location
Deep In The Heart of Texas
there is no Blue Mountain in Tennessee
According to Google Earth, there is a Blue Mountain, Tennessee about 40 miles south of Knoxville. Was this the name of the area of the the mountain in the 1860's? I don't know, but if it was, it's possible Walter could have enlisted when Gen Longstreet with Hood's Brigade was sent to Knoxville in the fall of 1863 and spent the winter in East Tennessee. Could Walter's memory about his enlistment date and length of service 65 years after the war been off a year?

I'm pretty sure Williams wasn't a Confederate soldier.
You make some good points. Believing Walter was transferred from the ANV to Quantrill's so-called command late in the war requires a herculean imagination even though Quantrill was raiding and killed in Kentucky in 1865.

pension later in life
You're getting close to the opinion I have formed after researching Walter Williams. The question is, why did Walter wait until 1932 to apply for a pension? If he wasn't a veteran, then was he a crook or could he have had another reason besides a free meal ticket? In 1932, the state of Texas paid a Confederate veteran and his wife if married prior to 1900 a pension of $50 per month. A widow would receive $25 per month. A considerable amount during the depression.
 

Rusk County Avengers

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
This thread reminds me of an interesting article I read once, (still in my library somewhere), of one of the more interesting and practically unknown last CW soldiers. A North Carolina Confederate, with proper documentation, witnesses, and all around apparently genuine.

He lived from 1824 to 1945....

One must bear in mind that CW soldiers really did have a tendency to live very long periods, sometimes more so than any other era. I expect its because there was so many of them compared to earlier wars, combined with the fact they were probably the most exposed of any era to disease with the numbers contributing. They had to survive so many diseases they were probably the most immune to anything. No virus or microbe kill them as they already survived them all!:rofl:
 

J. D. Stevens

Corporal
Joined
Dec 11, 2016
Location
Deep In The Heart of Texas
He lived from 1824 to 1945....
In 1946, there were 16 veterans drawing pensions in Texas. Thirteen were not married (which may have explained their longevity) and received $100 per month. The three married veterans received $150. The pensions and the Texas Confederate Veteran's Home in Austin was paid for by a state ad valorem tax of two cents on each $100 evaluation.
John A Davis - 98 - Columbus, Tx
James A Abney - 100 - Brownwood, Tx
W W Foster - 101 - Cross Plains, Tx
R S Hilburn - 99 - Graham, Tx
T R McGuyer - 98 - Cooper, Tx
J H Whitsett - 97 - Bonham, Tx
S M Raney - 99 - Mount Vernon, Tx
T B Iden - 96 - Houston, Tx
J P O'Brien - 102 - Kirbyville, Tx
J C Mathews - 100 - San Augustine, Tx
W N Whitten - 99 - Timpson, Tx
W H James - 96 - Grand Saline, Tx
T E Riddle - 98 - Wichita Falls, Tx
Married Veterans
W W Williams - 100 - Franklin, Tx (subject of this thread)
S L Tumbleson - 100 - Mantague, Tx
W W McLeod - 100 - Wills Point, Tx
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
He lived from 1824 to 1945....
Calling fraud/mistake on that one.

That would make him the oldest man ever by 5 years.
There are a lot who reached 111-113... but only 5 reached 114, 2 reached 115 and one 116.
No man ever reached 117. He would have reached 120/121

Not only that, he would be the 2nd oldest person ever.
Only the French woman Jeanne Calment at 122 years, 164 days would be older.
The next woman was 119, then 118 (still alive), then a hand full at 117.

Did he serve? sure
Did he die in 1945? sure.

But I simply don't trust the claim that he was born in 1824.
If he was actually born in 1834, then sure, the story might be true.
 

James N.

Colonel
Forum Host
Annual Winner
Featured Book Reviewer
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Location
East Texas
For those who enjoy a good genealogy or CW service record mystery, the sleuths among you might enjoy proving or disproving the last surviving veteran of the War Between the States. While doing some unrelated research on Find-A-Grave, I stumbled across the following FAG memorial #7590332 for Walter Washington Green Williams. The item which caught my attention was a picture of a Texas State historical marker. Never one to pass up a historical marker, I was surprised to read; “Reputed to have been the last surviving soldier of the Civil War ………….. was a forage master of the celebrated Hood’s Texas Brigade.” As a member of Hood’s Texas Brigade Association, this was excellent information especially since I had never heard about Walter Williams. I read the marker inscription two or three times and each time the first word on the historical marker jumped out at me. “Reputed” was more than I could let go, so I decided to dig a little deeper into the service of the oldest CW veteran. What was intended be a simple search would turn into a long list of confusing and contradictory documents, newspaper articles, and more questions.

Walter W. Williams applied for a Texas pension on August 11, 1932 and it was approved on August 20. The following line items are from the application page.
Line 1: What is your age: ___ 86 years of age __
Line 10: Date of enlistment and discharge: ___ “enlisted about 11 months before war closed and remained in service until Gen Lee surrendered” ___
Line 11: Letter of your company and number of regiment: ___”Company C, 5th​ Rgt, Hood’s Brigade” ___
Line 12: If transferred, provide details: ___”I was transferred to Gen Quantrill’s command about May or June 1865” ___
Line 13: What branch of service did you enlist ___”Cavalry” ___

Walter’s pension #50890 consists of 79 pages of mostly items added years after it was approved until a few years after he died in the 1959. On August 5, 1939, seven years after the pension was approved, the Robertson County Judge took a sworn deposition of Walter W. Williams, age 92. Walter swore he was born in Adawanda (Itawamba) County Mississippi on November 14, 1846. “I joined Company C of the 5th​ Texas Regiment of Hood’s Texas Brigade at Blue Mountain Tennessee about 11 months before the war closed. I served about 5 months and then was transferred to General Quantrill’s command and served in Company O of said command as well as I can now remember until the close of the war.

Having read hundreds of pensions, I know the old veterans did not always remember exact dates, exact length of service, and sometimes their unit numbers forty or fifty years later. Keeping this in mind, those who know a little about CW timelines and unit histories will question some of the statements made by Walter.

According to the FAG memorial, Walter’s parents were George W. Williams (1795–1890) and Nancy Marcus Williams (1816–1910). They are listed in the 1850 Federal Census, but there is no Walter living with his parents. He is enumerated on the 1860, 1870, and 1880 Census in his parent’s household and his age is listed as 5, 15, and 24 years respectively. Walter is found in the Federal Census enumerated every 10 years between 1860 and 1940 except 1890. All eight of these census records list Walter, Walter “G.”, or W. “G.” Williams. He is never listed with a middle initial “W.” Walter’s age in each census remained consistent with being born about 1855 until 1920 when his age jumped seven years and shows he was born in 1848. The age listed in the 1930 and 1940 censes indicate Walter was born about 1850 and 1848 respectively.

The oldest Union veteran was Albert Woolson of Duluth, Mn. who died in 1956 at the age of 109. The second oldest Confederate veteran was John B. Salling of Slant, Va. who died on March 16, 1959 at the age of 112.

In May 1956, Walter had been the crowd favorite as he took part in the Armed Forces Day parade in Houston. He rode in an open car wearing his brand new Confederate uniform given him by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. In 1956, President Eisenhower made Walter an Honorary General. In 1957, Walter was awarded a 3-inch medal authorized by the 84th​ Congress. Walter Williams died on December 19, 1959 at the age of 117 (?) at his daughter’s home in Houston. The nation’s flags were ordered flown at half-mast by executive order in honor of the Civil War’s last survivor. The president said, “No longer are they the blue and the gray. All rest together as Americans in honored glory." Walter’s body lay in state in a special designed casket of solid copper tinged in gray and a velvet lining in the rotunda of the Civil Courts Building in Houston for two days. Once an hour, a smartly dressed changing of the guard was executed. A team of 6 officers and 132 specially picked men from the 4th​ Army made up the honor guard. Hundreds filed by his casket to pay their last respects. A military procession that included a 25 member SUV drum and bugle from Ohio took Walter’s body through downtown Houston streets to the South Main Baptist Church for his funeral. Immediately after the funeral, Walter was taken to the small town of Franklin, Texas where graveside military rites were performed. Tributes came from many public officials along with messages of sympathy from citizens of all walks of life. The governors of Texas, South Carolina, and a Texas US Senator attended in person. Representatives from the 11 Southern states were sent to attend the funeral.

Walter Williams had a number of detractors who claimed he never served during the war for various reasons. My initial thoughts leaned to a possibility of two men with a fairly common name of Walter Williams became intertwined. Searching online military and census records for Mississippi, Texas, and Tennessee found a considerable number of Williams with a first name Walter or the initials “W” or “W G” or “W W” or no initials.

I have an opinion about Walter Williams based on my research, but I would like to hear what the experts on this forum think. The information for this little essay was gathered from several online sources such as FAG, FOLD3, Ancestry, TV news scripts, and over a hundred digitized newspaper articles.

Walter Williams Texas State Historical Marker
View attachment 399466

Walter Williams in old age wearing a Confederate Uniform
View attachment 399467
No mystery here - Williams was proven to be a fraud many years ago. He lied about his age and service during the Depression solely to get a veterans' pension, probably never guessing he would later be the object of a fame he didn't deserve. As I recall it was a proverbial drummer boy from Michigan named Albert Woolson who was the last genuine veteran.


Edit: I see Sallings posted above as another possible Confederate veteran so have removed his name; I believe Woolson was the correct Union veteran.
 
Last edited:

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
I assume that was meant as a joke.

Although I wonder if that statistic is skewed by men who die young before the really have an opportunity to get married?
At least today in Denmark It is actually something that is getting more and more attention.
Men who are not in a relationship and don't have any children have as a group less education, lower paying jobs, more likely to end on early retirement because of medical issues, more likely to be overweight, to have diabetes and a number of other issues.
And they statistically die 10 years earlier than men who have children and are in relationships.
(we are talking life expectancy for a adult... not averages so men who die early don't effect the numbers)

But obviously it is not that clear what is the cause and what is the effect.

EDIT - sorry for the somewhat off topic commend. But its just something that we talked about last week as part of my education.
And single men who live alone and have medical issues at rather early age do make up a unfortunate large % of the people who get assistance in their homes... and that group is getting bigger.
 
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