The Gerontology Research Group validates 117-year old Delphia Welford (1875-1992) of Humboldt, Tennessee, as the African-American Longevity Recordholder of the United States of America

The Gerontology Research Group is delighted to announce the validation of Mrs. Delphia Welford of Humboldt, Tennessee, USA. Following one of the most thoroughful and careful examination using multiple pieces of evidence and documentation spanning from her early life until 1992, we recognize that Delphia Welford was 117 years old. The investigation of her age, which had begun as early as in 2016, and even earlier than that – along with the American SSA Study, proves beyond reasonable doubt that Delphia Welford had been born in Okolona, Chickasaw County, Mississippi, on Sept. 9, 1875, had one son Leo Henry Mathis (1896-1966), moved to Humboldt, Gibson County, Tennessee along with the rest of her family before 1900, and died in Humboldt on Nov. 14, 1992, at the age of 117 years, 66 days.

Delphia Welford was originally among Social Security Administration study cases, conducted by Bert Kestenbaum and B. Renee Ferguson. The case re-emerged in 2016 with the work of our most respected GRG Correspondent for Greece, Mr. Ilias Leivaditis, who was the first to lay down hypothesis that Delphia Welford may have been much older than her later life claim. Subsequent research provided only more evidence in support of this.

The validation of Delphia Welford changes the history of American longevity, as, in the light of the GRG revelations, she has been:

  • the Oldest Living American (following the death of 112-year old Orpha Nusbaum on Mar. 30, 1988 until her own death on Nov. 14, 1992). This means the status of the Oldest Living American was never shared by Elzona Maxey (1875-1988), Alphaeus Philemon Cole (1876-1988), Birdie May Vogt (1876-1989), and Ettie Mae Greene (1977-1992), who until 2023 were believed to consecutively hold the title). Following Delphia Welford’s death, the status of Oldest Living American was inherited by Margaret Skeete (1878-1994).
  • the Longevity Recordholder of the USA (surpassing Augusta Holtz in 1990; until her age was surpassed by Sarah Knauss in 1998)
  • the African-American Longevity Recordholder for the USA (replacing Susannah Mushatt Jones (1899-2016), with her age being chronologically unrepeated for the next 31+ years)
  • the oldest person to have been born in Mississippi (replacing Betty Wilson (1890-2006) and Susie Gibson (1890-2006))
  • the third person in history to eclipse the lifespan of 115 years (behind Augusta Holtz and Jeanne Calment)
  • the second person in history to eclipse the lifespan of 116 and 117 years (behind Jeanne Calment)

The detailed report on the case validation of Delphia Welford will be presented at the supercentenarian seminar in Paris later this year.