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BIOGRAPHY

McDaniel was born in Panola, Texas, USA, on 20 May 1878, to parents Thomas Jefferson McDaniel (1840–1929) and Almedia Jane Walker (1854–1925). He had at least four siblings: Thomas Jefferson Jr. (1875–1964), Andrew (1881–1947), Lelia Daisy Jones (1884–1960), and Laudie Columbus (1891–1982). When he was about 5 years old, the family moved to Philadelphia, where his mother had grown up.

Around 1900, when he was about 22 years old, he moved to Smith County, Mississippi, where he spent approximately the next 80 years. He worked in various occupations, including carpentry, blacksmithing, sawmills, and bricklaying. He was a Pentecostal.

McDaniel married Sarah Frances “Sally” Barnett around 1904. They had four daughters: Paula Levade Johnson (1905–1982), Alma Lee (born 1907), Flonnie Jordan (1910–1969), and Beryl (born 1913). His wife passed away in June 1916. On 27 April 1917, he married Lela Margaret White (1895–1952). They had 6 children: John Thomas (1918–1969), Mary Almeda Hough (1919–2006), Winnie Loraine Rohr (1921–2009), Willie Ray (1924–1997), Mildred Leona Williams (1926–2017), and Virginia Grace Smith (1932–1989).

Around the age of 103, he broke a hip in a fall, then suffered a heart attack. Four doctors told his daughter that he would not survive, but he recovered. At the age of 110, he could recall a childhood memory when his father bought a box of plug chewing tobacco, placed it on a shelf in their home, and the young McDaniel ate some after his father left. Although he didn’t get sick from it, his father still thought it best to call upon a doctor to check on him. During that period, his eyesight and mobility had deteriorated, and his hearing wasn’t particularly good either. At the time, he was a resident of the Jasper County Nursing Home in Bay Springs. When asked about the secret of his longevity, he mentioned that it may have been partly attributed to hard work, and the remaining factor was his habit of consuming chewing tobacco.

McDaniel passed away in Bay SpringsJasper CountyMississippiUSA, on 20 December 1988, at the age of 110 years. He was survived by one son and six daughters, 36 grandchildren, a number of great- and great-great-grandchildren, and one great-great-great-grandchild (five generations of descendants).

RECOGNITION

In May 1988, he became the second documented male supercentenarian in the U.S. state of Mississippi, with the first being Charlie Phillips.

On 25 November 1988, following the passing of 112-year-old Alphaeus Philemon Cole, he became the oldest (known) living man in the United States. He held the title for less than a month.

Upon his passing, he was succeeded as the country’s oldest living man by 110-year-old Alton Gilbert of Washington.

At the time of his passing, he was the third-oldest (known) living man in the world, behind John Evans (United Kingdom) and Jan Machiel Reyskens (Netherlands).

ATTRIBUTION

* William Harrison “Mr. Will” McDaniel – Find A Grave

* “Work & a dip help McDaniel make it to 110” – Clarion-Ledger, 19 May 1988

* “W.H. McDaniel” – Hattiesburg American, 22 December 1988

GALLERY

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