Debunking of historical unvalidated supercentenarian claim – Martha Jane Ramsey (1876? / 1886 – 1990) USA

Image 1 – One of many newspaper obituaries

Image 2 – Sourced from

Image 3 – Martha in 1908 with son Clemon

Image 4 – Martha in late life

Hello all,
After many  months of working on this case, I have finally reached a conclusion of a debunking. 
Martha claimed birth on August 15th 1876 in Boone County, West Virginia, USA. From the newspaper obituaries, other records and obituaries for other family members, we know Martha married William Ramsey in 1905. We also know the names of her children. 
Initially, I found much supporting evidence. Indeed, there was only one Martha Browning born in West Virginia in 1876, according to and the West Virginia Vital Birth Records ( This Martha was born February 9th 1876 in Boone County. Assuming this was her, she would actually have been 114 at death – exciting! 
I found census records that seemed to confirm this – including the parents listed alongside her in the birth index. The 1880 and 1900 censuses matched entirely – the 1900 census even showing February 1876. I could not initially find the marriage, but confirmed it via other sources – SSA’s for some of the children, obituaries, etc. Mid-life censuses (1920-1950), however, showed ages reported that would indicate birth between 1885-1890. I had initially put this down to age deflation in mid-life, which was not uncommon at the time. 
So up until this point, with an extensive validation report done and ready for review, things were looking good. It never occurred to me, until I re-examined this case even more closely, that there may be more than one Martha Browning born in Boone County. I decided to go back and try to find the original documents for the birth and marriage, if possible. After consulting a previously-used genealogist in Louisiana, Judy Riffel (, she pointed me to a website with genealogists from all states where I might find one for West Virginia. There was only one, who didn’t respond. I decided to try my luck with someone from a different state – Virginia. After conversing with her (Stephanie Glotfelty –, she pointed me to the West Virginia Vital Research Records website ( 
Searching for Martha Browning in Boone County, West Virginia, in any year, showed interesting results. There were two! The first being the Martha Browning born February 9th 1876…. the other – August 15th 1886. It seemed the only way to now confirm which Martha was the one who died in 1990, was to find the marriage to her known husband. Again, using the same site, simply putting in Ramsey as the groom’s last name and a year of 1905, I came across their marriage, albeit it had not been transcribed onto the computer very effectively. But, viewing the original document, it can only be them. William Ramsey and Martha Jane Browning married in Kanawha County, West Virginia, in September of 1905. His age was given as 32, hers as 19. 19 tied in with August 1886 as the birth year.
So, the Martha Browning/Ramsey who claimed birth August 15th 1876 was actually the one born August 15th 1886. A final age of 103 years, 346 days. The Martha Browning born February 9th 1876 is a different Martha Browning entirely, including different parents, different families.

Should anyone wish to see the actual documents as proof of debunking her claim, please contact me via my email or via this website. Correspondents and those with access to the private section of the GRG Forum can view the documents there.

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