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Irene Triplett, the last person receiving a U.S. Civil War pension, died at the age of 90 on June 2, 2020. Her pension was derived from her father, Mose Triplett, a veteran who began the Civil War fighting for the Confederacy and ended it fighting for the Union. Mr. Triplett was 83-years old when Ms. Triplett was born in 1930 in North Carolina. Ms. Triplett’s pension of $73.13, which she had been receiving since the 1950s, went toward her nursing home expenses.
The Life and Times of Irene Triplett and Her Father
Irene Triplett gave an interview to The Record in 2014 which includes her comments and additional details about her story.
Mr. Triplett died in 1938, several days after attending a Civil War reunion with fellow veterans at Gettysburg. His obituary noted that, although he ended his military service fighting for the Union, he was placed with the Confederate veterans at the reunion.
Ms. Triplett, who was only 8 at the time of her father’s death, recalled that he never talked about his service. Ms. Triplett explained that her family – which included her mother and her brother – were shaken by Mr. Triplett’s death, and that she left the family home at 13.
Ms. Triplett would go on to work on chicken farms – which she described as being gruesome – and at a bakery. She spent the final six decades of her life in nursing facilities due to disabilities. Regarding her pension payments, she stated: “I feel pretty good about it.”
It is remarkable that the daughter of a veteran of the Civil War was still alive 155 years after the final shots were fired. In an earlier post, I examined how memory can create a link between the living and the dead. Here, unusual circumstances where a man remarrying and has a child very late in life, coupled with the child also being long-lived, can create a living link to events and people long past. In a similarly striking example, two grandsons of John Tyler, who was born in 1790 and served as the 10th President of the United States from 1841-1845, are alive today.
Irene Triplett lived a long and unassuming life before curious researchers discovered several years ago that she was the last living child of a Civil War veteran. It sounds like her life was at times a difficult one, but I hope it was happy in the better part, and that she enjoyed the interest she received in her final years. May she rest in peace.