William Linford dies at 100 years old

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme this week is Oldest.  I chose William Linford because he lived to 100 making him the oldest ancestor (by age) that I have found so far.  William belongs to a collateral line and is not a direct ancestor.  He is the half-brother to my 3rd great-grandfather Charles Bowers.  They share the same mother, Eliza Haggerson Linford Bowers.

William Linfor

William Linford was baptized 28 August 1811 in Terrington-St.Clement England to Eliza Haggerson and Robert Linford.[1]  On 14 October 1833 William Linford married Dinah Essaby in Gedney, Lincoln, England.[2]  They had four children John 1837, William 1840, Sarah 1844, and Robert 1846.[3] They came to the United States on 22 August 1849 and to Ottawa, Illinois on 1 October 1849.[4]  In 1851 William applied for citizenship and in 1854 became a citizen of the United States.[5]  He worked as a Sexton at the West Ottawa Cemetery until the family moved to Section 20 in Allen Township, LaSalle County, Illinois in 1856.  William farmed the land until 1879 when Dinah died and he moved to Syracuse, New York.[6]

After moving to Syracuse, New York, William married for a second time to Elizabeth (last name unknown) around 1882.[7]  Elizabeth was 33 years younger than William.[8]  Perhaps this is why he lived so long!  But William claims there were other reasons for his long life. 

I found a couple of articles written about him and his long life.  The first one is from the Post-Standard, Syracuse, New York, Friday Morning, August 26, 1910.  Below is a transcription of the article followed by the actual newspaper article. 

William Linfor No. 1516 Grape St. celebrated his ninety-ninth birthday yesterday by doing the same things he had done for many years in the past. He arose promptly at seven and had a breakfast of bread, milk, and a cup of tea.  After that meal he smoked his usual pipe and then walked in his garden until friends began to arrive with their congratulations.  There was hardly a moment until late this evening when he was without company. 

Mr. Linfor’s dinner menu included meat, potatoes, bread, coffee, and a glass of ale, and for supper he partook of some bread, milk, sauce, and a cup of tea.  In the evening he smoked another pipe, entertained a few more friends, and retired at 10 o’clock.

Today Mr. Linfor will follow the same routine, for it is this regularity to which attributes his long life.  The things which some persons regard as unhealthful are considered harmless by this jolly old man.  Coffee, tea, tobacco, and intoxicants won’t hurt anyone he thinks, if they are used moderately. 

Care in cooking of food and thorough mastication are urged by Mr. Linfor, if a long life is desired.  Don’t worry is another of his maxims.  Mrs. Linfor says he has nothing to worry about except that he hears very little and can see scarcely at all, so he doesn’t know anything about worrying.  So philosophical are the husband and wife, however, that they did not seem to imagine that the loss of sight and hearing would cause most persons to worry.  Mr. Linfor has a remarkable memory and he delights to quote passages from the books he has read and to recite over and over again incidents of his early life and events that are history to the present generation.

Mr. Linfor was born in Norfolk, England and has lived in this country, he says, “only” sixty-one years. Thirty-one of these have been spent in Syracuse and twenty-eight in the house which he now occupies.  When he first reached this city, the manner of reaching Long Branch was by steamer from Salina Pier, the Onondaga County Fair was held here, the R. W. & O. Railroad ran excursions to Frenchmans Island and the Syracuse Opera Company gave performances at the old Weiting Opera House. 

Mr. Linford has two sons, eighteen grandchildren, and sixteen great-grandchildren.  Two Nieces are the only relatives, except his wife, who live near this city.”[9]

Linford 1

The second find is in a book titled Art of Longevity by B. J. Henley, Syracuse, N.Y. 1911 along with a picture of William Linfor (see above).  They have the wrong place of birth and a couple of other facts wrong.  Here is a transcription of that article.

William Linford – 99 Years Old

Born in Linconshire, England, August 25, 1811 – Now living in Syracuse, N. Y.

From the Syracuse Journal

“William Linfor, 1516 Grape St. is beginning to carry a cane.  He is getting ready to celebrate his 99th birthday, August 25th, and his friends have persuaded him that such an ornament is very appropriate for that time of life.  He finds it very awkward, but says that he can do it.

Mr. Linfor is one of the most self-reliant men in Syracuse.  Born in Lincolnshire, England in 1811, he has been a resident of the United States for forty years.  He is a farmer and has never lost interest in his profession.  He bought a farm in Ransom, Ill., when land was worth $1.75 an acre and lived to see it worth $200.  He has three Children, numerous grandchildren, and finds it hard work to keep an accurate census of his great-grandchildren. 

His activity is the wonder of the neighborhood.  He finds plenty to do and always does it thoroughly.  Neighbors could hardly believe last winter that the spry old man they saw climbing a ladder to clean the snow from the roof of his house was almost a centenarian, but he was and he isn’t nearly ready to quit work yet.”

Mr. Linfor’s habits of life have been extremely regular.  He has always been very moderate in eating and never under any circumstances allowed himself to eat beyond what he knew he could properly digest.  The result is a ripe old age, free from many infirmities of extreme age.  Mr. Linfor is still in possessions of all his faculties, exception his hearing which has failed considerably.  He is mentally keen and can readily recall dates and incidents in his long life.

The strictly temperate mode of living, never allowing his system to become gorged with food is responsible for Mr. Linfor’s long life and excellent health.”[10]

 William Linfor died on 28 January 1912 of pleurisy at the ripe old age of 100.[11]

Copyright  © 2018 Gail Grunst


[1] Baptism for William Linford 28 August 1811; Terrington St. Clement, Norfolk, England; Parish Register Baptism and Burials 1772 – 1812  Item 2; Microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Salt Lake City, Utah at Wisbech and Fenland Museum, Wisbech, Cambs., filmed 26 July 1988, Film Number 13640109, film unit # 2161 NCD 2 Roll # 5.

[2] England Marriages, 1538–1973 database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NVJ5-JXV : 10 February 2018), William Linfor and Dinah Essaby, 14 “Oct 1833; citing Gedney, Lincoln, England, reference , index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 1542146 IT 1.

[3] Year: 1850; Census Place: Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois; roll: M432_115; Page: 269B; Image: 191.

[4] Biographical and Genealogy Record of LaSalleCountyIllinois(Google eBook) (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1900), p. 227.

[5] National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D. C.; Soundex Index to Naturalization Petitions for the United States District and Circuit Courts, Northern District of Illinois and Immigration and Naturalization service District 9 1840 – 1950 (M1285); microfilm Serial: M1285; Microfilm Roll 112.

[6] Biographical and Genealogy Record of LaSalleCountyIllinois(Google eBook) (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1900), p. 224 & 227.

[7] Year: 1910; Census Place: Syracuse Ward 18, Onondaga, New York; Roll: T624_1057; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0187; FHL microfilm: 1375070.  Source Information:  Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.  Original data: Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Syracuse, New York, Post-Standard, August 26, 1910, Friday Morning, page 7.

[10] Henley B. J., The Art of Longevity (Google eBook) (Syracuse, N.Y, 1911), p. 223 & 224.

[11] Health News. Monthly Bulletin (Google ebook) (New York State Division of Public Health Education, Albany, New York), New Series, Vol. VIII, No 1, Full Series Vol. XXIX No 1,  January 1913.


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