Where Are the Women? Jones, Morano, Okawa

No, the names in the title of this week’s blog are not Laurel County women. Nor are they Kentucky women.

They are women from New York, Italy and Japan, respectively.

Why are they in my blog?

Because I just found out that they all lived to be more than 116 years old!

My last blog was about a 100-year-old Laurel County woman, so I thought it might be appropriate to put her in perspective with other women who lived more than a century, even though they weren’t from Laurel County or even from Kentucky.

Susannah Mushatt Jones, currently the world’s oldest living person according to the Guinness Book of World Records, died in New York just a few days ago at 116 years of age.

Susannah was born in 1899 in Alabama, one of 11 siblings. She attended a special school for African American girls, graduating from high school in 1922.

She made her way north to New Jersey and eventually to New York, where she worked for many years as a nanny. Although she was married for five years, between 1928 and 1933, she never had any children of her own.

According to family members, Susannah credited her longevity to living on her own for so many years, and to love of family and generosity to others.

Susannah inherited the title of world’s oldest living person when Misao Okawa died in Japan last year. She was born in Osaka, Japan, on March 5, 1898, and died just a few days after her 117th birthday.

Misao was the daughter of a kimono maker. She married in 1919 and the couple had two daughters and a son. Her husband died in 1931 and she never remarried.

Misao said at her 117th birthday party that her life seemed “rather short.”

When asked about her secret for such a long life, she replied, “I wonder about that, too.”

Interestingly, Japan has the most people in the world who have lived to the age of 100 years or more, a reported 58,000–of whom 87 percent are women.

With the death of Susannah Jones, the oldest living person in the world is another woman: Emma Morano of Italy.

Emma is just a few months younger than Susannah, and is the last person alive who is verified to have been born in the 1800s.

Emma credits her long life to eating three eggs every day–two of them raw–which she has been doing since she was 20 years old, when she was diagnosed with anemia and advised to consume the eggs to combat her condition.

She also says her longevity is due in part to leaving a violent husband in 1938, shortly after her only child died at 7 months old.

I am amazed that these women lived so long, and salute them for their courage to face the world as single women for so many years, especially at a time when being married was the normal and expected status for women.

I just had to share my discovery of these remarkable women with my readers (both of you are still out there, aren’t you?). I hope you found them as interesting as I did.

My recent research has revealed other Laurel County women who have lived long lives, also, and I will be featuring some of them in upcoming weeks, so stay tuned for more thrilling tales of Laurel County women!

See you next time.

Danna C. Estridge
Guest Blogger

This entry was posted in History, Women's History. Bookmark the permalink.