Photo Gallery for Supercentenarians born before 1850,
as of May 17, 2019.
Betsy Baker, 113
The photos at age 107 and 109 are courtesy of The Sun’s Own Services. The photo at age 113 was sourced from Lincoln Star Special.
May 31, 2015; Betsy Russell Baker was born on August 20, 1842 at Great Brington, Northamptonshire, England, United Kingdom. She died at Tecumseh, Johnson County, Nebraska, United States on October 24, 1955 at the age of 113 years, 65 days. At the time of her death she was the older living person in the world and the second oldest verified person ever (after Delina Filkins). Baker retained the Nebraska longevity record until her age was surpassed by Helen Stetter in 2007.
Born as Betsy Ann Russell, she emigrated to America with her parents and siblings at the age of 3. The family settled in Columbia County, Wisconsin. In 1866, she married Tyler Baker with whom she went on to have five children. Her husband was originally a foreman of a lumber camp and later became a farmer. In 1876 they relocated to Cass County, Iowa. In 1883 they moved again, to Johnson County, Nebraska, where they lived on a farm. In about 1908, Baker and her husband moved to Tecumseh, where they lived until Tyler’s death in 1921.
When Baker was 104, a daughter moved in to care for for. By this time, declining eyesight prevented her from reading the newspaper, but she remained in good health otherwise, continuing to walk around her house with a cane and do daily housework. On her 107th birthday, she received a congratulatory letter from U.S. President Harry Truman. Around her 110th birthday, Baker used a ladder to pick crab apples from a tree in her yard, with a daughter holding the ladder, and a granddaughter holding the basket. At the age of 111, she retained a good appetite and sat outside in the sunshine almost every day. She was named honorary Queen Mother of the Johnson County Fair in 1953. She received publicity on her 112th birthday in the U.S. Army’s “Stars and Stripes,” published in Germany. In October 1954, Baker became “very feeble” and remained bedridden for the rest of her life. She outlived two of her five children.
Miriam Banister, 111
These photos were sourced from a relative’s private collection.
October 3, 2016; Miriam Banister was born in Sidmouth, Devon, England, United Kingdom on March 19, 1817 and died in St. Louis, Missouri, United States on April 9, 1928 at the age o 111 years, 21 days. Outlived by Delina Filkins, she was the first supercentenarian not to become the world’s oldest person.
Born as Miriam Voisey, she married contractor John Banister in 1850 and had four children. The couple moved to the United States in 1854. Her husband died in 1878. In St. Louis, she was a member of the Church of St. Philip the Apostle. In 1904, at the age of 87, Mrs. Banister attended the St. Louis world’s fair 34 times. At the age of 100, she could walk unaided but had impaired vision from cataracts and was unable to read. In her latest years, she was consulted for commentary and advice. “The present generation isn’t bad, it’s just different,” she declared in 1925. “And so is everything else in the world.” She attributed her longevity and good health to “simple foods, avoidance of overeating and abstinence from worry”. She was congratulated by George V as “the oldest living British subject” shortly before her death.
Geert Adriaans Boomgaard, 110
The following pictures were sourced from the Groninger Archieven: http://www.groningerarchieven.nl/nl/
Geert Adriaans Boomgaard aged 100:
June 4, 2015; Geert Adriaans Boomgaard was born at Groningen, Netherlands on September 21, 1788 and died in the same place on February 3, 1899 at the age of 110 years, 135 days. On January 8, 1896 he passed the final age of Pierre Darcourt and became the oldest verified man ever. On April 10, 1898 he passed the final age of Kirsti Skagen and became the oldest verified person ever. On September 21, 1898, he became the first verified supercentenarian. His longevity world record was broken by Margaret Ann Neve in 1902. To put his achievements in context, please consider that he held the male longevity world record for more than 60 years and the Dutch longevity record for more than 80 years.
Boomgaard served as a soldier in the 33rd Light Infantry Regiment of Napoleon’s Grande Armee and received the St Helena medal as a reward for his military achievements. In 1818, at the age of 29, he married Stijntje Bus. She died in 1830, one month after the birth of their eighth child. In 1831, Boomgaard married Grietje Abels Jonker, with whom he had four more children. After his military service, Boomgaard worked as the captain of a boat. This proved profitable enough for him to retire in 1850, at the age of 62. His second wife died in 1864 at the age of 71.
Boomgaard said he had “never known illness” and was a man of regular habits, always going to bed at 10pm and rising at 6am. He was an enthusiastic smoker of pipe tobacco. On his 107th birthday, Boomgaard was treated to a family celebration. At this time, he was reported as “still in full possession of his mental faculties”, speaking with judgement about both past and present events. He outlived all 12 of his children but was survived by several grandchildren and great- grandchildren.
Delina Filkins, 113
June 1, 2015; Delina Filkins was born on May 4, 1815 at Stark, Herkimer County, New York, United States. She died at Richfield Springs, New York, United States on December 4, 1928 at the age of 113 years, 214 days. On February 17, 1926, she became the oldest living person in the world, following the death of Louisa Thiers. On September 21, 1926, she passed the final age of Louisa Thiers and became the oldest verified person ever. On May 4, 1927 and May 4, 1928, she became the first verified person to reach the ages of 112 and 113, respectively. Filkins was the first verified person to surpass the longest confirmed lifespan by two years. She was also the first supercentenarian to outlive another supercentenarian: Miriam Bannister (1817-1928). No other supercentenarian would reach the age of 113 until Betsy Baker in 1955, and Filkins world longevity record stood for more than 50 years until broken by Fannie Thomas in 1980 – by far the longest period any person has held the record as the oldest person ever. She has every right to be considered as one of the most significant supercentenarians in all human history, along with the likes of Geert Adriaans Boomgaard, Jeanne Calment, Sarah Knauss and Jiroemon Kimura.
Filkins was born as Delina Ecker into a family of Dutch ancestry. She was to spend all her life, except the last two months, within a radius of 10 miles. At the age of 11, she quit school to work at home. In 1834, at the age of 19, she married John Filkins, with whom she went on to have six children. On her wedding day in 1834, she planted a rose bush in the yard of her home and this bush still blossomed at her death 94 years later. For the 39 years following her marriage, Filkins and her husband ran a cheese making business.
After her husband’s death in 1890, Filkins continued to live on her farm until the age of 108. Family members remembered well how “Old Grandma” used to fall asleep in her rocking chair next to the wood stove, ending up leaning against its hot surface. She wore a long dark dress topped with a long white apron; to press the apron she would fold it carefully and place it under the cushion of her chair. At Christmas, the old lady loved to receive candy but wouldn’t share it with the others; instead, she hoarded it in her dresser.
Filkins remained in superb health into extreme old age. On her 100th birthday in 1915, she was treated to her first ride in a motor car. On her 101st birthday, her eyesight and hearing were good. At the age of 107, Filkins amazed doctors by sailing through an operation. In 1923, at the age of 108, she moved to the local township of Warren to live with her youngest son Frank. She celebrated her 109th birthday at her son’s home and was still strong and well upon entering her 110th year. At the age of 110, she underwent another operation and was out of bed within two days. At the age of 111, Filkins still woke up every morning around 5:30 am, ate a hearty breakfast, made her own bed, sewed, did other household chores and read books. At the age of 112 she was slightly deaf but still able to get around with a cane and make her own bed. A few months after her 113th birthday, Filkins health started to decline but she initially refused to become bedridden, and sat, somewhat incapacitated, in her chair. Two months before her death, she moved to Richfield Springs.
As Filkins approached record breaking ages, her birthdays became community events. She received greetings from Presidents Harding and Coolidge and from Governor Smith of New York. Visitors flocked to see her from miles around. One photograph from the 1920s shows car after car lined up outside her house. When she reached 113, artist Leona Bell Jacobs was commissioned to do her portrait; one painting is in the Canajoharie Library and Art Gallery and the other is in the Owen D. Young Central School.
When asked for the secret to her longevity, Filkins replied, “Well, I don’t know exactly. I always worked hard and I think that had a lot to do with it. I have not been sick much, and the only medicine I ever took was steeped herbs.” Her father, William Ecker, lived to the age of 97. She outlived four of her six children.
Jennie Howell, 111
August 30, 2017; Jennie Howell was born in Caldcoats, Cumberland, England, United Kingdom on February 11, 1845 and died in Los Angeles, California, United States on December 16, 1956 at the age of 111 years, 309 days. She became the oldest person in the United States and the world following the death of Betsy Baker on October 24, 1955.
Born as Jessie Chaplow, she moved to Canada with her father and stepmother in 1859, then onto Utah, arriving on the first passenger train to Ogden. She and her family settled in Providence, Cache, Utah. Jennie married Reese Howell in 1869 at Wellsville. They went on to have two sons, one of whom became a judge. In 1870 they moved to Kelton, Utah where her husband was engaged in the freight and mercantile business. In 1886 they removed to Ogden where her husband operated a general store, Tavey And Howell, later under the name of Reese Howell and Sons. Mr. Howell passed away in 1913.
At the age of 95 she was still in excellent health and could recall vivdly the events of seven great wars. On her 101st birthday she was described as “in fine health and mentally alert”. At age 103, she was described as “in fine health and still abe to read and sew to some extent”.
Christina Karnebeek-Backs, 110
June 2, 2015; Christina Karnebeek-Backs was born in Holterhoek, Gelderland, the Netherlands on October 2, 1849 and died on October 7, 1959 at the age of 110 years, 5 days. She became the oldest verified living person in the world upon the death of Nancy Ryan on October 17, 1958. On October 2, 1959, she became the first Dutch woman to reach the age of 110. Her Dutch female longevity record was broken by Gerarda Hurenkamp-Bosgoed in 1980.
Margaret Neve, 110
On the right, also aged 106:
June 1, 2015; Margaret Ann Neve was born on May 18, 1792 at St. Peter Port, Guernsey and died on April 4, 1903 at the age of 110 years, 321 days. On May 18, 1902, she became the first verified female supercentenarian. On October 1, 1902, she passed the final age of Geert Adriaans Boomgaard and became the oldest verified person ever. Her longevity world record was broken by Louisa Thiers in 1925. Well over 100 years after he death, she remains the oldest person ever from Guernsey.
As a child, Neve suffered a severe fall down the stairs, hitting her head on a flagged floor, and remained concussed for three days. In 1807, she boarded a boat with her father who intended to sail to Weymouth, England; but a storm caused the ship to change direction and they landed at Chesil Beach. From the age of 15, Neve was educated in Bristol, England, where she gained an interest in literature and poetry. She met with Charles Francois Dumouriez, a general of the French Revolutionary Wars, who dubbed her “la spirituelle”. She married John Neve in 1823 in England, but returned to Guernsey in 1849 after his death. Following the death of her husband, she travelled abroad with her sister every summer, funding their travels through a portfolio of investments. They went on to travel to every country in Europe except Portugal. Their last trip together was in 1872, when they visited Cracow (then in Austria-Hungary, now in Poland), although Neve paid a second trip to Crakow at the age of 90. She could speak at least five languages and read the Greek testament for pleasure.
On her 107th birthday, Neve gave a reception at her house to celebrate her birthday. The town council, jurats, the officers of the staff, and about 250 local residents attended. At the age of 110, Neve could still read large print without glasses. According to a news article released when she was 110 “Her wonderfully vigorous intellect, her descriptions of scenes and things abroad, and her vivacity astonish all with whom she comes in contact.” Until her final illness, Neve said she never suffered an ache or pain. Her mother lived to the age of 99 and her sister to the age of 98.
Katherine Plunket, 111
The second photo was sourced from Illustrated London News.
June 2, 2015; The Honourable Katherine Plunket was born in Kilsaran, County Louth, Ireland on November 22, 1820 and died in Ballymascanlon House, County Louth, Ireland on October 14, 1932 at the age of 111 years, 327 days. At the time of her death, she was the oldest living person in the world and the oldest person ever to die in Ireland or Britain. She held this longevity record for 38 years, until surpassed by Ada Rowe in 1970. She remains the oldest person ever to die in Ireland.
Plunket was a member of the Irish aristocracy. She was a granddaughter of a Lord Chancellor of Ireland, who became the first Baron Plunket. Her father became a Bishop and her mother was the daughter of a Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. Plunket never married and outlived all five of her siblings. In 1825, when just a young girl, she met the novelist Walter Scott. She travelled extensively, often with her younger sister Gertrude, and visited almost every capital in Europe. She was an amateur botanical artist and made many sketches of flowers in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Ireland and Switzerland. At about the age of 70, Plunket inherited Ballymascanlon House, one of her family’s ancestral homes, and oversaw the upkeep of the home and gardens. A keen reader, she had a very strong sense of humour, was always an excellent sleeper and maintained a good appetite into advanced old age.
At the age of 102, Plunket contracted a bad attack of bronchitis and became confined to her bedroom thereafter. She accepted this less active lifestyle calmly and directed the management of her garden from her window. At the age of 108, Plunkett won the Fortescue Challenge Bowl and the Healy Challenge Cup at the Dundalk Agricultural Show. On the occasion of her 109th and 110th birthdays, she was sent a telegram of congratulation by King George V. She remained lucid and interested in the world to the end of her life, and as a supercentenarian she enjoyed listening to the paper being read to her. She attributed her longevity to her unrustled carefree attitude to life. According to a cousin, Plunket never allowed things to worry her, and always believed that anything good comes from God, and anything bad has been sent for her good.
Ann Pouder, 110
On her 110th birthday:
May 31, 2015; Ann Pouder was born in London, England, United Kingdom on April 8, 1807 and died in Baltimore, Maryland, United States on July 10, 1917 at the age of 110 years, 93 days. The first verified supercentenarian to die in America, she was also the oldest living person in the world at the time of her death. Pouder emigrated to the United States with her family at the age of 12. She then lived the remaining 98 years of her life in Baltimore, Maryland. She married, but her husband passed away shortly after the marriage and they had no children. In the last few months of her life, Pouder was bedridden, blind and almost deaf, but her mind remained sharp. Her longevity claim was verified by Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone.
Pouder was said to be in good health at her 106th and 109th birthdays. She said her attitute to life was to “make the best of what comes.”
Velgjer Svien, 110
Picture of Velgjer Svien mentioned at her 102nd birthday, courtesy of Northfield (MN) Historical Society:
April 27, 2014; Velgjer Svien was born at Valdres, Norway, on October 10, 1842. She died in Northfield, Minnesota, USA, on January 23, 1953 at the age of 110 years, 105 days. At the time of her death, she was the second oldest living person in the world, the oldest person ever born in Norway and the oldest person ever to die in Minnesota. Her Minnesota longevity record was broken by Mary Ford in 1987.
Born as Velgjer Nystuen, she immigrated to the United States with her father and siblings in 1854, after her mother had died when she was only 8. She married Peter Svien in 1860, with whom she was to have four children. In 1865, they moved to a farm in Goodhue County, Minnesota. In 1876, they moved to Northfield, where Svien was to remain for the rest of her life. Initially, Mr and Mrs Svien operated a hotel in Northfield, but Peter Svien went on to spend most of his professional life as a policeman. She was a charter member of the ladies’ aid and a member of her local church. Her husband died in 1926. She then lived alone until the age of 98 when a daughter came to live with her. Her daughter died when Velgjer was 103 and a grandson then moved in to care for her.
Svien enjoyed remarkable health and strength into advanced years. On her 100th birthday, she enjoyed an afternoon of festivities given in her honor by her local church and was interviewed on the radio. On her 105th birthday, a large celebration was held at her home, and she made frequent trips outside to pose for photographs. When asked for the secret to her longevity, Svien said “Don’t hurry.” A personal friend added “She never allowed herself to be hurried or worried, taking each moment, as well as each day, as it came, and maintaining a real serenity.”
Louisa Thiers, 111
Louisa Thiers in 1847, aged about 33:
In 1875, aged about 61:
On her 100th birthday:
Aged 105, photographed for National Geographic Magazine:
In her final years:
June 4, 2015; Louisa Thiers was born at Whitesboro, Oneida County, New York, United States on October 2, 1814 and died in Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, United States on February 17, 1926 at the age of 111 years, 138 days. On August 20, 1925, she surpassed the final age of Margaret Ann Neve to become the oldest verified person ever. On October 2, 1925, she became the first verified person to reach the age of 111. Her longevity world record was broken by Delina Filkins in 1926.
Thiers was the daughter of American Revolutionary War patriot Seth Capron. She rode on the first steam railway from Schenectady to Albany, and recalled how the train was let down with a stationary engine because the road was so steep. She married David Bodine Tears (the spelling was later changed to Thiers) in 1847, with whom she had five children. Her husband died in 1875.
On her 100th birthday in 1914, Thiers was described thus “none is brighter, happier, more entertaining or more capable of enjoying life than Mrs Thiers.” Until the age of 100, Thiers still took a cold bath every day. “It peps you up and gives you vitality”, she said. In her centenarian years, Thiers became the last surviving “Real Daughter” of the American Revolution. She was delighted to see the advent of the prohibition movement and approved of women’s emancipation, showing her enthusiasm by voting regularly as the elections. During World War I, she made comfortable garments for the American soldiers in France and also knitted over one hundred pairs of socks for French babies. Her knitting was described as “beautifully done” and a model for others to follow.
At the age of 104, Thiers saw her first movie. She got so excited that she decided if she wanted to live to a ripe old age, she’d better avoid them in future. At the age of 106, Thiers still wrote letters and read the latest books. Aged 108, she still enjoyed life and remained intensely interested in current affairs. By this time, she lived with her daughter. At the age of 110, Thiers was given a physical examination. The doctor declared that except for a slight deafness and short-sightedness, she was in excellent physical condition. She remained in good health until a week before her death.
Thiers gave three reasons for her longevity. Firstly, a light diet and careful eating. Secondly, keeping alive her interest in life and daily events. Thirdly, being happy and doing what she could to make others happy.