M. L. Tanner



Meroah "Mero" L. (White) Tanner (1844-1906) was born and grew up in New York state, becoming a schoolteacher while still in her mid-teens. In 1866 she married James R. Tanner (1844-1927), a Union Corporal in the Civil War who had both legs amputated due to wounds suffered in the Second Battle of Bull Run in 1862. James studied law after the war and was admitted to the New York bar in 1869. The family moved to Brooklyn that same year and James held posts first in the New York Customs House and later as Tax Collector for Brooklyn. When James was appointed Commissioner of Pensions by U.S. President Benjamin Harrison in 1889 the family moved to Washington, D.C., but he only lasted 6 months in the position and became a private pension attorney. Mero, meanwhile, served on the board of directors of the Brooklyn Nursery, was on the executive committee of the American Red Cross, and used her personal relationships with politicians, including President William McKinley, to plead the cases of ailing veterans who were in need of assistance. In 1906 she was killed in a car accident in Helena, Montana, and President Theodore Roosevelt insisted that she be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, the first wife or widow of a private soldier to be accorded that honor as it had previously been prohibited.

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