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BIOGRAPHY

James Henderson Holt was born in Edwards, Illinois, USA as the son of Joseph and Martha Pelham Holt. Both of his parents died in 1868, leaving him and his three brothers orphans. The brothers were then sent to Cannon, Tennessee, and raised by acquaintances of their parents.

When he was 13, he began living on his own, where he worked and traveled throughout multiple states in the 1870s. According to him, he lived with the chief of a Native American tribe in Missouri for several years before arriving in Oklahoma for the 1889 Land Rush, where he worked as a cowboy. He staked his land claim near Guthrie, but lost his territory two years later when the Cimarron River overflowed its banks and flooded his land. He married Clara Hyder in Lamar, Missouri on 1 November 1899, and would have five children with her. The couple remained together for 38 years before Clara’s death in 1937. He later remarried to another woman before her death 18 years later. He moved to Kay County, Oklahoma in 1923 and spent the remaining three decades of his working years as a farmer on a 160-acre farm near Kaw City, before retiring at the age of 90. In 1967, his land was purchased by the federal government, and was submerged by the Kaw Dam and Reservoir. In his later years, he began living with one of his daughters in Oklahoma City.

Holt attributed his longevity to having “a good nature”; while he never drank alcohol, he chewed tobacco for most of his life. By the time of his 108th birthday in 1973, arthritis and a heart condition left him mostly confined to a wheelchair, and his hearing was impaired as a result of old age. Nonetheless, he still maintained much of his memories from childhood, and could recall many experiences from throughout his life, stating on his 108th birthday, “it’s hard for me to get around to do anything now and my mind slips, but I do remember the Dust Bowl as an awful time when everything seemed to blow away.”

James Holt died in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA on 7 January 1977 at the age of 111 years, 13 days. He was survived by four daughters, 16 granchildren, 46 great-grandchildren, 21 great-great-grandchildren, and two great-great-great grandchildren.

RECOGNITION

His age was verified by Jimmy Lindberg, and validated by LongeviQuest on 10 October 2023.

ATTRIBUTION

* Sequoyah County Times, 15 February 1973

* The Daily Oklahoman, 25 December 1973

* The Daily Oklahoman, 15 December 1974

* The Daily Oklahoman, 9 Jan 1977

GALLERY

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