Published June 14, 2012
SAN DIEGO – One of the closest living connections to the Civil War has died in California.
Stella Mae Case, who was born in 1918, died Sunday at the age of 94 in a retirement home in Marina del Rey after a battle with cancer, U-T San Diego reported.
Case's father, John Harwood Pierce, was 70 years old when she was born. Pierce was born in Canada in 1848. Turned down by the Union Army twice because he was too young, he finally joined the 11th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry when he was 14. His age and small stature -- he stood at approximately 5 feet tall -- allowed him to act as a Union spy by dressing in women's clothing.
"I think I must have realized even at a young age that he was quite a character," Case said in an interview with U-T San Diego in 2009.
Pierce died when Case was seven years old, leaving her with few memories. Among them were seeing him in his Civil War uniform for a Memorial Day parade and staying with him at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where he was the resident Santa Claus.
The national headquarters of the Daughters of Union Veterans lists seven remaining children of Civil War veterans, but record keeping is spotty, so the exact number is not known, according to U-T San Diego.