December 21, 2006 by

Lizzie Bolden

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Categories: Extraordinary People

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Jones Bolden, the oldest person in the world, died on Dec. 11. She was 116.
Born Aug. 15, 1890, Bolden was the daughter of freed slaves. That same year, the U.S. 7th Cavalry massacred nearly 300 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota. Both Idaho and Wyoming became U.S. states. Ellis Island opened as an immigration station and Congress established California’s Yosemite National Park. William B. Puris patented the fountain pen. The Mormon Church renounced polygamy. And the first U.S. edition of a Sherlock Holmes novel (“Study in Scarlet”) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was published.
Lizzie wed Lewis Bolden in 1908. The couple tilled the cotton fields, first as croppers then as tenant farmers. She could barely read or write, but managed to earn extra money by doing laundry and ironing for neighbors. Known as “Momma Lizzie,” Bolden had seven children, 40 grandchildren, 75 great-grandchildren, 150 great-great-grandchildren, 220 great-great-great grandchildren and 75 great-great-great-great grandchildren. She was widowed in 1950 and never remarried.
The supercentarian had a reputation within the family as an excellent cook with a penchant for vegetables and sweets. The longtime member of New Wright’s Chapel Baptist Church rarely drank, yet she occasionally dipped snuff, chewed tobacco and smoked a pipe. Bolden suffered a stroke in 2004. She spent the remaining years of her life living in a nursing home, saying very little and sleeping most of the time.
In August 2005, the Guinness World Records recognized Bolden as the oldest person in the world; her age was authenticated using U.S. Census records. However, the title was stripped after the organization learned Maria Esther de Capovilla of Ecuador was both alive and older. Bolden regained the title last September upon Capovilla’s death. Emiliano Mercado del Toro, 115, of Puerto Rico, is now the oldest person in the world.

One Response to Lizzie Bolden

  1. Geoffrey Brandner

    Mrs. Bolden although old was in her own way still active. She was able to walk and spoke boldly when addressed. Her tastes in clothes were affected by her age; hoop skirts and panama hats were her favorites. Quite a matron she will be missed by her many fans.

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