Susannah Mushatt Jones, last US woman born in 19th Century, dies

Susannah Mushatt Jones, eating breakfast in Brooklyn, NÉE, on 22 June 2015Image source, AP
Image caption,
Ms Jones did not drink or smoke, but said she enjoyed her bacon

The oldest known person in the world has died in New York aged 116.

Born on an Alabama farm in July 1899, Susannah Mushatt Jones was also the last living American born in the 19th Century.

She lived in three centuries, through two world wars and 20 US presidencies.

An Italian woman, Emma Morano, now takes on the title of oldest person in the world, and is thought to be the last living person to have been born in the 1890s.

Ms Jones was one of 11 children. Her grandparents were slaves, her parents crop pickers.

She attended a special school for young black girls and graduated from high school in 1922.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
'Miss Susie' celebrated her 116th birthday in July 2015

She moved to New York to work as a nanny, where she helped to start a scholarship fund for young African-American women.

Ms Jones remained active until the end of her life, serving as a member of the tenant patrol of her nursing home until she was 106.

Secret to longevity

As one of the last few remaining human links with the 19th Century, Ms Jones has lived through more history than anyone else in the world.

The year of her birth, 1899, for example, marked the kind of historical event most people only know from history books:

  • The start of the Second Boer War in South Africa
  • The beginning of the war between the US and the Philippines
  • The invention of aspirin

She was also born before the death of Queen Victoria in Britain, before Marconi sent the first ever wireless transmission, and before the Wright Brothers flew the first aircraft.

Image source, Alamy
Image caption,
Italian 116-year-old Emma Morano is thought to be the last living person born in the 1890s

Ms Jones always maintained that lots of sleep and no smoking or drinking were the main reasons she lived to celebrate her 116th birthday last year.

But perhaps it was due to the pleasures she allowed herself in life too.

In an interview with Time Magazine last year, she admitted to eating four strips of bacon with scrambled egg every day.

Her favourite luxury was buying high-end lace lingerie, her family said. She reportedly once told nurses during a medical check-up: "You can never get too old to wear fancy stuff."

The oldest person in the world is now believed to be 116-year old Emma Morano, who lives in Verbania in Italy. She was born in November 1899, according to the Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group.

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