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Walter Williams, Last Civil War Vet.

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Walter Williams, Last Civil War Vet.

Posted: 11 Jan 2003 2:53PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 6 Apr 2005 8:46PM GMT
Was searching in old newpaper for Obits. Found this article, thought it might interest someone. This is not my family. I do not anyother information.Sacramento Bee, Sacramento, CA 20 Dec 1959

Old Reb, Last Civil War Vet, Passes

Houston , Tex - Walter (Old Reb) Williams, the last of the 4,000,000 men who fought the War between The States, died yesterday. He was 117 years old. Williams succumbed to his fourth attack of pneumonia within a year which he had amazingly fought almost to a standstill for 13 critical days.

His death closed a chapter in American history. It was a signal for President Dwight D. Eisenhower to proclaim a day of national mourning.

Death came to the old Confederate at 3:20 PM CST in the arms of a son in law, Ed Bielamowlcz, and a grandson Sydney Boyd.

Dies Quietly

"He just quit breathing" said Bielamowiez. "He had done that before, and we just lifted him up and he'd catch his breath and start breathing again.

"But this time he didn't start breathing again. There was no struggle, no sound, nothing. He just went to sleep"

Dr. Russell Wolfe, his personal physician visited the old soldier 30 minutes before his death. Although Williams had been ill with pneumonia the physician said he had recovered from this aliment.

"He just died from the natural complications of old age" Dr. Wolfe said.

Other relatives present were Mrs. Willie Mae Bowles at whose home Williams died and two other daughters, Mrs. Beatrice Bielamowicz and Mrs. Lola Kintz, both also of Houston.

A Confederate Flag under which Williams served as a Cavalry Forager with General J. B. Hood, hung on the wall across the room from Williams bed. It was flanked by the United States Flag and the Lone Star Flag of Texas.

The street outside was quiet. Small clusters of relatives called at the little five room house set in a cluster of sycamore and oak trees.

One last look

Mrs. Bowles, a widow in her 50's, asked once more to see her father before his body was taken to the Jack Carswell Funeral Home in downtown Houston.

"I'm going to miss you so much, " she sobbed as she looked down at the body of the wizened old soldier.

"I never did get tired of taking care of you."

Williams' body will lie in state in the foyer of the Harris County Courthouse for 48 hours beginning at 9 AM tomorrow. An honor guard of soldiers from the Fourth Army will stand at attention.

At 9 AM Wednesday, a military guard will march with the body from the courthouse to the South Main Baptist Church four miles away for funeral services which will begin at 11 AM

Tentative plans call for sending the body to Franklin, Tex, Williams old home, for Burial.

Texas Governor, Price Daniel ordered all flags on the State Capitol and other state buildings be flown at half staff as a tribute to Williams.

Daniel sent telegrams to governors of the other 10 states which comprised the Confederate States of America advising them of Williams' death.

"All Americans, north and south, mourn the passing of Walter Williams," Daniel said. "This is the end of an era in American history, General Williams has passed over the river to rest in the shade of the trees with the hundreds of soldiers in Blue and Gray who went before him.

Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson (D) of Texas said the death of the last Civil War veteran "seals the door on a great but tragic era."

General U.S. Grant III, Civil War centennial chairman, said Williams’ death is an occasion for nationwide mourning.

Williams received the title of last survivor with the death of John Salling of Slant, Va., March 19 1959, in Kingsport, Tenn. Salling also wore the Gray.

The last Union Soldier, Albert Woolson of Duluth, Minn., died in 1956.

Although some persons questioned whether Williams served in the War between The States, the president, the army and congress cited him, and historical societies recognized him as the last of the 4,000,000 who fought for the Blue or the Gray.

In his first attack this fall, doctors despaired of his life. Mrs. Bowles feed him egg, milk and water with an eyedropper, But still the rugged oldster clung to a thread of life and railied time after time.

He received $300 a month from Texas Confederate pension fund and a special $135.45 pension from the federal government.

Williams was a jolly fellow who liked to fox and deer hunt.

His favorite music was hillbilly and western and as his deafness increased, so did the volume on his record player beside his bed until it resounded through the neighborhood.

But he was spry until near the end and he suffered few illnesses until he was well over 100 by his own calculation of his age.

At 110, doctors pronounced his heart and blood pressure normal. Occasion for the medical test was his first plane ride.

“I’d ride all day if they’d feed me,” he said after the flight.

He often was preoccupied with food, liking simple varieties.

Some of his statements on how to live long;

“I get up for breakfast, turn around for dinner and go to bed after supper and fox hunt for exercise.”

“If more of you would get along with your wives better, you’d live a lot longer.”

He liked a nip of whiskey, “Makes a person eat hearty. But you don’t want to be drinking it all during the day.”

Outlives 2 wives

Williams outlived two wives who bore him 19 children, 10 of whom survive.

Besides Mrs. Bowles, Mrs. Bielamowicz and Mrs. Kintz, the survivors include Mrs. Elizabeth Booth, of Houston and Mrs. Currie James of San Antonio: and five sons, Bud Williams of Macy, Tex., Jack and Gene Williams of Franklin, Tex. And Henry and B. W. Williams of Houston.

Also surviving are 40 grandchildren, 86 great grandchildren and more then 100 great great grandchildren.

Dr. Wolfe signed the death certificate showing the Civil War veteran’s name to be Walter Washington Williams. It had been listed on other documents as Walter Green Williams.

The Certificate showed Williams to have been born on November 14, 1842, at Itawamba Co. Miss., and that he was the son of George Washington Williams and Nancy Marcus.


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