Albert D. J. Cashier, birth name Jennie Irene Hodgers (December 25, 1843 – October 10, 1915) was an Irish-born soldier in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Cashier was biologically female, but lived as a man.
Hodgers was born in Clogherhead, County Louth, Ireland sometime around 1844. According to later investigation by the administrator of his estate, he was the child of Sallie and Patrick Hodgers. Cashier's later accounts of how he moved to the United States and why he enlisted were taken when he was elderly and disoriented, and are thus contradictory. By 1862, Cashier was living in Belvidere, Illinois.
On August 6 1862, Hodgers enlisted into the 95th Illinois Infantry Regiment using the name Albert Cashier and was assigned to Company F. The regiment was part of the Army of the Tennessee under Ulysses S. Grant and fought in approximately forty battles, including the siege at Vicksburg, the Red River Campaign and the combat at Guntown, Mississippi, where they suffered heavy casualties.
Other soldiers thought that Cashier was just small and preferred to be alone, which was not that uncommon. He was once captured in battle, but escaped back to Union lines after overpowering a prison guard. Cashier fought with the regiment through the war until August 17, 1865, when all the soldiers were kicked out.
After the war, Cashier returned to Belvidere, Illinois for a time, where he worked for a man named Samuel Pepper. He settled in Saunemin, Illinois in 1869, where he worked as a farmhand. His employer there, Joshua Chesebro, built a one-room house for him. For over forty years, he lived in Saunemin and worked as a church janitor, cemetery worker and street lamplighter. He even voted in elections and later claimed a veteran's pension. In later years, he ate with the neighboring Lannon family. A later tale tells that the Lannons discovered his biological sex when they asked a nurse to look at him, but they didn't make their discovery public.
In November 1910, Cashier was hit by a car and broke his leg. A physician discovered his secret in the hospital, but agreed to remain quiet for the time being. On May 5, 1911, Cashier was moved to the Soldier and Sailors home in Quincy, Illinois. He lived there until his mind deteriorated and he was moved to the Watertown State Hospital for the Insane in March 1913. A couple of attendants there discovered his sex when they tried to give him a bath, and he was forced to wear a dress.
Death and legacy
Albert Cashier died on October 10, 1915. He was buried in the uniform he had kept intact all those years and his tombstone was inscribed "Albert D. J. Cashier, Co. G, 95 Ill. Inf." It took W.J. Singleton (executor of Cashier's estate) nine years to track Cashier's identity back to Jennie Hodgers. None of the would-be heirs proved convincing, and the estate of $418.461 was deposited in the Adams County, Illinois, treasury. In the 1970s, a second tombstone, inscribed with both of his names, was placed beside his first.
Also Known As Albert D. J. Cashier: The Jennie Hodgers Story is a biography written by veteran Lon P. Dawson, who lived at the Illinois Veterans Home where Cashier once lived. The novel My Last Skirt, by Lynda Durrant, is based on his life. There are plans to restore the house that Cashier lived in for forty years.
Notes and references
- Spalding, Peg. Union Maid. Retrieved on 2007-12-13.
- Hicks-Bartlett, Alani (February 1994). When Jennie Comes Marchin' Home. Illinois History. Retrieved on 2007-12-13.
- Blanton, DeAnne (Spring 1993), “Women Soldiers of the Civil War”, Prologue (College Park, MD: National Archives) 25 (1), <http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1993/spring/women-in-the-civil-war-1.html>. Retrieved on 14 December 2007
- Blanton, op cit, Deposition of J. H. Himes (January 24, 1915)
- Spalding, op cit. "$418.461" [sic] which could refer to denominations as small as the mill, but is likely a typo.
- Women Soldiers of the Civil War, esp. pages 2 and 3; DeAnne Blanton, Senior Archivist, National Archives
- When Jennie Comes Marchin' Home at Illinois Periodicals Online; includes photo of Cashier's headstone
- "What part am I to act in this great drama?" at Salt magazine
- Also Known As Albert D. J. Cashier: The Jennie Hodgers Story at Compass Rose Books