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Friday, November 9, 2012

Mary Simmons


There is an account published in an old Ohio newspaper, the Jeffersonville National Democrat, on October 19, 1876 entitled An Old Woman in which we are told, in too little words, about the life of Mary Simmons. Mary was one of the oldest living women in the country at that time. Because she participated in a barbecue held at Alexandria, Virginia in George Washington's honor, I thought it would be appropriate to post it. Mary was most likely either a cook or a server at the barbecue.
In an old tenement house in Gibsonville, near the Government Depot, lives Mary Simmons, a colored woman, aged 112 years. Of course a person at that age has a history, and a News reporter, while in Gibsonville today, visited her house, with a view to obtain some points as to the history of the old woman. The old woman was found sitting in bed, her head almost bent to her knees, a result of infirmity and old age. She said she was born in Lunenbury county, Virginia, January 1st, 1764, and was consequently 112 years old on January 1st, 1876. 
She distinctly remembers incidents of the Revolutionary war, and likes to talk about the things which happened in those times. She remembers that her old master and his five sons fought in the Revolutionary war. She saw General Washington at Alexandria, Va., at a barbecue given in his honor, and accurately describes his dress and appearance. She remained a slave till the middle of the late civil war, when she claimed her freedom. She has had twelve children, and five of her sons fought in the late Rebellion, for which she says she never received any compensation whatever. 
The old woman is now lying in this old shanty, with scarcely any person to take care of her. She has been provided for, for some time past, by the Sisters of Providence of this city, who kindly furnished her with the necessaries of life. One of her daughters lives in the neighborhood, but is evidently too poor to take care of her. She is probably the oldest person living in this county, and probably the oldest in the State.

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