This reminded me of one of the most remarkable Ocracoke tombstones in the George Howard cemetery on British Cemetery Road.
|Follow instructions on right to enlarge.|
Ann Howard's tombstone reads:
In Memory of
Wife of George Howard
Died November 24, 1841
Aged 117 Years
Lo! the prisoner is released,
Lightened of her fleshly load.
Where the weary are at rest
She is gathered unto God.
Since Ann Howard's birth month and day are not recorded we may justly wonder if the year of her birth (1724) is correct. Record keeping in colonial America, especially on Ocracoke Island, could not have been thorough or reliably accurate. Besides, Ann's husband George, according to his marker, was born in 1749. It is, of course, possible that Ann was 25 years older than George, but unlikely.
Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that the stonecutter was instructed to include the notation "Aged 117 years" to alert future generations that the dates (1724-1841) were not an error. Clearly, Ann Howard's surviving descendants believed her to be 117 years old.
According to Bee Wilson's article "The oldest person on record remains the Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 aged 122."
Ann Howard's grave marker is clearly visible from the road. It is on the left. If accurate, she "must have been the oldest person ever to have lived in North Carolina," as Carl Goerch writes in his 1956 book Ocracoke.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of the Soundfront Inn, one of the oldest structures on the island. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102113.htm.