Saturday, November 8, 2008

Supercentenarians of Record Who Lived More Than 150 Years

The Guinness World Records lists Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122 years, as the oldest person on record. She is said to have met the famed artist Vincent van Gogh at the age of 13 which caught the attention of the media in 1988. However, with all due respect to Mrs. Calment, she died quite young compared to other supercentenarians found in other records.

Many people first heard about supercentenarians from the January 1973 issue of the National Geographic about the Azerbaijani people who are known to live incredibly long lives and marry after reaching the age of 100 years. This issue of National Geographic also contained an article about the oldest living of the Azerbaijani people, a man named Shirali Mislimov.

In the following year, Time ran this obituary about Shirali Mislimov in its September 1973 issue:

“Shirali Mislimov, Died 1973 at 168 years in Azerbaijan, USSR. On his birthday in 1971 he rose at dawn to do his daily chores in the garden and orchard. Among his well-wishers were doctors who gave him his annual physical and judged his health perfect. He has never been ill, though forced to give up riding horseback recently. At 160 he journeyed to the capital city (his first visit). There a doctor recorded his pulse at 72 and blood pressure at 120/75 but then this was after a three storey climb! He neither smoked or drank. He is survived by his third wife, 107 years old, 219 other family members, including a grandchild aged 100 years.

Now from the News Review magazine, dated 22 December,1938 we have:

“Zaro Aga, according to the death certificate given by his doctor, died at the age of 157 years. He has died in Istanbul, Turkey although there exists a confusion about the death place probably because the body was sent to US right after his death.

He was born in Bitlis, Mutki,GundĂȘ Meydan , Ottoman Turkey and worked as a construction worker when he was young, then moved to Istanbul, worked as a porter for more than 100 years and finally retired as a janitor. He was a major attraction to press during his last years as the world's longest living man and traveled many countries including US, UK, Italy and France. His body was sent to US for research purposes after he died."

From the Sear's Wonders of the World, we have this one:

"December 5, 1830, died at St. Andrews, Jamaica, the property of Sir Edward Hyde East, Robert Lynch, a negro slave in comfortable circumstances, who perfectly recollected the great earthquake of 1692, and further recollected the person and equipages of the lieutenant-governor, Sir Henry Morgan, whose third and last governorship commenced in 1680, viz., one hundred and fifty years before. Allowing for this early recollection the age of ten years, this man must have died at the age of one hundred and sixty years."

From the April 1958 issue of Time magazine we have this interesting article:

Javier Pereira, 169, died 1958, in Columbia, S.A.

Only 4'4" tall, weighed 75 pounds. Taken to New York Hospital Cornell Medical Centre in 1956. At that time he had all his hair without any gray, teeth were all gone, skin like old brown wrinkled leather, eyes cloudy but still serviceable, hands arthritic but a powerful hand-shake firm and surprisingly youthful. Arteries showed no signs at all of deterioration. His endurance and feats were remarkable like standing on one leg and pirouetting without losing his balance, walking three blocks and climbing two flights of stairs without losing his breath. He had no immediate relatives (though married 5 times), his last grandchild had died 15 years ago at age 85 years. He was known by oldsters in his own village when they were in their teens as the "old Indian who liked to dance".

From the “Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine “ book by Gould and Pyle we have this interesting tidbits:

“Henry Jenkins, 169, died 1670, in Yorkshire England.” Present at the Battle of Flodden (1513) at age of 12. When over 100 he was still an excellent swimmer.”

"In a churchyard near Cardiff, Glamorganshire, is the following inscription: "Here lieth the body of William Edwards, of Caereg, who departed this life 24th February, Anno Domini 1668, … one hundred and sixty-eight"

"Jonas Warren of Balydole died in 1787 aged one hundred and sixty-seven. He was called the "father of the fisherman" in his vicinity, as he followed the trade for ninety-five years."

"In the chancel of the Honigton Church, Wiltshire, is a black marble monument to the memory of G. Stanley, gent, who died in 1719, aged one hundred and fifty-one.

From the book titled “History of Human Life Span and Mortality” by Acsadi and Nemeskeri we have even more interesting supercentenarians:

“Thomas Parr, 152, died 1635, in England. At the age of 130 was an active farmer, did not marry till 80, then again at 120. Presented to King Charles I in 1635. The excitement of the journey to London brought on his death-its immediate cause was over- eating. He was autopsied by Harvey who found the "internal organs in a perfect state; his cartilages were not even classified".

“John Rovin, 172, died 1741, of Temesvar, Hungry. His wife, Sarah Desson Rovin died the same year at the age of 164 after a marriage of 147 years.”

“Kentigren, 185, died 5 Jan. 600 A.D. in Scotland. Founder of Glasgow Abbey.”

"Petratsh Zartan died 1724 in Hungry at the age of 187. A few days before his death he walked a mile. Shortly before his death a Count Wallis had his portrait painted. When he died he was more than 10 years older than Abraham and 35 years older than "old Thomas Parr (who died earlier at the age of 152 years)."

In Charles Hulbert’s book titled “Museum Europaeum” published in 1825 is this interesting article:

The most remarkable instance of longevity which we meet with in British history is that of Thomas Carn, who, according to the parish register of St. Leonard, Shoreditch, died 28th January, 1588 at the astonishing age of two hundred and seven years. He was born in the reign of Richard the Second, anno 1381, and lived in the reigns of twelve kings and queens, Richard II, Henry IV, V, and VI. Edward IV and V, Richard III, Henry VII and VIII, Edward, VI, Mary, and Elizabeth. The veracity of the above may be readily observed by any person who chooses to consult the above mentioned register."

However the granddaddy of human longevity on record, is that of Li Ching Yun. The May 6th, 1933 edition of The New York Times contains an incredible article titled


This article is subtitled “Inquiry Put Age At 256”

“Peiping, May 5 – Li Ching-Yun, a resident of Kaihsien, in the Province of Szechwan, who contended that he was one of the world's oldest men and said he was born in 1736 – which would make him 197 years old – died today.

A Chinese dispatch from Chungking telling of Mr. Li's death said he attributed his longevity to peace of mind and that it was his belief every one could live at least a century by attaining inward calm.”

The article continues, “In 1930 it was said Professor Wu Chung-chien, dean of the department of Education in Minkuo University, had found records showing Li was born in 1677 and that Imperial Chinese Government congratulated him on his 150th and 200th birthdays. A correspondent of The New York Times wrote in 1928 that many of the oldest men in Li's neighborhood asserted their grandfathers knew him as boys and that he was then a grown man.”

Another article found in the May 15, 1933 issue of Time magazine titled: “Tortoise - Pigeon - Dog” stated the following about Li Ching Yun:

“In the province of Szechwan in China lived until last week Li Ching-Yun. ... By his own story he was born in 1736, had lived 197 years. … Some said he had buried 23 wives, was living with his 24th, a woman of 60, had descendants of eleven generations. The fingernails of his venerable right hand were six inches long. Yet to skeptical Western eyes he looked much like any Chinese 60-year-old. “

For more information on Ben Abba and his interviews with a living, breathing supercentenarian, check out his website at:

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