Gertrude Grubb and her powerful pension

Howdy doody everyone! I’ve been taking an “informal long weekend” after finishing a grueling Cardiology block on Munday (so grueling, in fact, that I spelled “Monday” that way the first time I typed it, and decided to leave it in for S&G). The nice thing is I’ll get a day off next week, thanks to Veterans Day – a day we celebrate all those who have served our country, and especially those who have given their lives.

Today’s featured person relates closely to that theme – a fantastic lady named Gertrude Janeway, who was born with the magnificent name Gertrude Grubb.

She first came to my attention when I was reading an awesome Cracked article about unusual comparisons from history, and saw this:

The last Civil War widow was alive when 50 Cent topped Forbes’ Richest Rappers list.

Considering the Civil War was from 1861-65, and 50 Cent was a chart topper when I was in high school in the early 2000’s, that factoid caught my eye.

So, I went on the computer*, and found out the truth:

Gertrude in her later years, with a photo from her early ones!

Gertrude in her later years, with a photo from her early ones!

Gertrude Grubb was a fine lady born in 1909 in Tennessee. When she was 16, she was courted by a 79-year-old Civil War veteran from the Union side named John Janeway. But it was totally cool and not creepy at all because Gertrude’s mother had a sense of propriety and forbade young Gert from marrying until age 18.

So when Gertrude turned 18, and John was 81, they probably convinced a dyslexic minister to marry them, thinking he was marrying two 81-year-olds and “dadgum, the women just keep lookin’ younger!” It’s understandable – if I were a minister and saw a marriage application like that, I’d think it must have been a typo and that two youngsters were swept away in the glory of young love (and hopefully not young divorce).

The two got married in 1927 in the middle of a dirt road, and moved into a log cabin in Blaine, Tennessee. As the wife of a Union soldier, Ms. Janeway received a $70 pension check every month from the VA. When John passed away in 1937 at the age of 91, Gertrude continued to live in the cabin until her death in 2003, aged 93. That $70 was worth a lot less in 2003 than in 1927, but Ms. Janeway (nee Grubb) is often used to illustrate the longevity considerations of pension commitments.

Maudie and William, in the days where you couldn't smile because photos took too long.

Maudie and William, in the days where you couldn’t smile because photos took too long.

We’ve covered old people on the blog before, and also old governmental legacies (our first post ever, and “Returned” to the theme in this one), but never a government commitment that ended up lasting 140 years.

Here’s the wacky thing…. Gertrude wasn’t even the last living civil war widow!!!!

That title belongs to Maudie Hopkins (nee Maudie Cecilia Acklin), who died at age 93 in 2008. The Arkansas native married an 86-year-old Confederate veteran in 1934. However, Arkansas caught on to the practice of young ladies marrying old pensioners, and forbade Maudie from receiving a widow’s pension after her husband’s passing.

In any case, you gotta admire Gertrude for her long-term financial planning!
*Until the end of time, whenever I use the phrase “I went on the computer,” I will think of Vin Scully’s awesome musing on Troy Tulowitzki’s mullet, and mullet being a type of fish. The link to Vin’s musing is at the bottom of Rob’s classic Fish Wars! post, and is totally worth the 2 minutes!

About Dave

Based out of San Diego, California. Co-founder of the Blog of Funny Names.
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12 Responses to Gertrude Grubb and her powerful pension

  1. ksbeth says:

    i believe they were destined to be together due to them both having been given alliterative names at birth. gertrude was willing to do anything to change that.

  2. wdydfae says:

    Well, I’ll be a hootin’ carbunkle. If that aint the dagnurbenest thing I ever heard tell of.

    I guess this means . . . (wheeze, cackle) I guess this means there’s still some hope left for ole Whud Yuhd Fay! (cackle, cackle, wheeze, slap thigh)

  3. kerbey says:

    Seriously seriously ew. Having never been married to anyone two weeks older than I am, the thought of a fresh, nubile teen marring a drooling coot (veteran or not) gives me the willies. And you can’t just leave us hanging–did she marry again? Did they have kids? Did she have to lie in a bed with that Tale from the Crypt? Ick. I’m going to investigate this. (5 min passed) No kids. No other husband. Said he was her one true love. Wow.

  4. markbialczak says:

    Armed only with the knowledged passed to us by Dave that Gertie Janeway willfully took on the name Gertrude Grubb by wedding one 81-year-old John, I am going to take two wild-ass guesses here, Kerbey, and surmise that she was neither nubile nor fresh. I will, however agree with two other adjectives. Ew and Ew. Great little story, here, Dave. You also found the backup photo that my dear wife Karen and I used to model our Halloween costume this year. Maudie and William are dour!

  5. Liz says:

    no, not creepy at all. As a mom of two young girls, one soon to cross over to the teen years, am wondering about Gertrude’s mom. Was she aghast? Did they try to prevent this relationship? She must have been far older than her 16 years when they met. Going to second what others have said by finishing with “Just ew.” Ew.

  6. lbeth1950 says:

    Looks like Gertrude had her eye on a long term relationship with that pension. Oh! That’s just me being cynical again.

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