Monday, September 14, 2009

123 Year Old Man, Formerly of Vienna, Missouri

The following was published in a Columbia, South Carolina newspaper, January 11, 1894.

Cole county, Mo., can boast of the oldest man in the State of Missouri, and perhaps in the United States. His name is Richard Hoops, and he is a negro. He lives in a small shanty on the banks of the Osage river, at Osage City. According to the records of his own statements he was born in Chatham county, N.C. on December 20th 1770, and consequently, was 123 years old on the 20th of last month. He came to Missouri with his then master John P. Haydon, settling at Lane's Prairie, Gasconade county. A few years later he was transferred to the man whose name he now bears, and lived with him near Vienna, Maries county, until the emancipation of the slaves.

Since that time he has lived at Westphalia, but for the past twenty-five years he has made his home at Osage City. Hoops is remarkably well preserved, and lives alone in his shanty. He fishes a great deal for the big catfish that frequent the waters of the Osage, and is never happier than when he can catch a big one and make soup of its head. He is still able to do some work, and it was only a few years since that he contracted with a farmer in the vicinity of his home to remove the stumps and roots of a newly cleared tract of land. He fulfilled his contract, doing all the work himself. His mind is still clear on many of the events that happened towards the close of the last century, and he recalls with great pride that he once held the horse of Gen. Greene of revolutionary fame.

In appearance Hoops is said to resemble a mummy; his skin looks like parchment, and he is toothless and hairless, but his step is remarkably firm and his eye bright and clear. As stated, he lives alone, having no relatives as far as known. He is a member and regular attendant of the A. M. E. Church. His neighbors take a great interest in him, and do him many acts of kindness, as they would supply his simple wants gladly, but he is independent, and says that he intends to earn his own living for many years to come. His house stands under the approach to the Missouri Pacific railroad bridge across the Osage, and, except when absent on his fishing trips, "Uncle Hoops," as he is called, can be found at home. He has the record of his birth, and there is but little doubt that he is the oldest person in the country

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