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BIOGRAPHY

Thomas was born on Wade Bolton’s Hoboken Plantation near Arlington in Shelby County, Tennessee, USA, on 25 December 1877 (claimed 1874). Her parents were freed slaves. She was raised by her maternal grandparents, George and Nancy Bolton. Her grandparents had passed away by the time she turned 12; her grandfather in June 1888 and her grandmother in March 1889. After their deaths, she traveled across the Mid-South, working in cotton fields for 40 cents per day.

At the age of 21 (reportedly), she married Jim Jones, and the couple had four children (including Watson (1900–1998)) by the time Jones passed away several years later. Later, she married Jordan Thomas, with whom she had six more children, including Robert (1910–1992), Odell, and Evelyn Odom (1915–2012). She was widowed in 1940.

In 1986, she moved to Flint, Michigan, to live with her daughter, Evelyn. In September 1990, at the age of 112, she traveled from Flint to Tennessee, taking her first airplane ride on a commercial jet, to attend a large local family reunion. At the time, she was confined to a wheelchair, but reports stated that her mind remained active and clear.

Thomas passed away at Hurley Hospital in Flint, Michigan, USA, on 2 December 1991, at the age of 113 years, 342 days. She was survived by four children, 11 grandchildren, 57 great-grandchildren, 33 great-great-grandchildren, and 11 great-great-great-grandchildren.

RECOGNITION

In the early 1989, at the age of 111, she surpassed the final age of Clara Willard, becoming the oldest person to have ever lived in the U.S. state of Michigan. She held the title until 29 January 2001, when Maud Farris-Luse surpassed her final age.

Her age was verified by the 110 Club user “schumaker”, as well as Jimmy Lindberg, and validated by LongeviQuest on 30 April 2024. Originally, Thomas and her family claimed that she was born on Christmas Day in 1874, a claim likely influenced by the alleged discovery of the 1880 census record by Heritage Tours Inc. However, research conducted by LongeviQuest suggests a more probable birth year of December 1877.

Following her validation in April 2024, it was concluded that, at the time of her passing, she was the sixth-oldest (known) living person, after Jeanne Calment, Delphia Welford, Charlotte Hughes, Ettie Mae Greene, and Katie Hatton. She was also the fourth-oldest living person in the US, after Welford, Greene and Hatton.

ATTRIBUTION

* “Woman, 115, to meet dozens of kinfolks” – Record-Journal, 22 September 1990

* “2nd-oldest person in world leads family reunion party” – The Pittsburgh Press, 22 September 1990

* “Ex-Memphian dies at 116; child of slaves possibly older person” – The Commercial Appeal, 5 December 1991

* George Bolton – Find A Grave

* Ellen Thomas – Find A Grave

GALLERY

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