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Fannie Thomas

Jimmy Lindberg
Validated By: Jimmy Lindberg On Date: Nov. 10th 2023

Frances Leona “Fannie” Thomas was an American supercentenarian whose age has been validated by LongeviQuest. At the time of death, she was the second-oldest living person, and the second-oldest documented person on record (previously believed to have been the oldest person ever).

Biography

Thomas was born in Denver, Hancock County, Illinois, USA, on 24 April 1867, to parents Silas Milton Thomas (1840–1880) and Henrietta J. Groom (1844–1876). She had four siblings: Marietta Thomas (1864–1965), Lucy Liggett (1866–1968), William Sanford Thomas (1869–1961), and Henry Thomas (1876–1879). She grew up on a rural farm. Her father was a postmaster and ran the general store. After both of her parents had passed away by the time she was 13, she moved in with her grandparents in Carthage.

Thomas never married nor had children. In Chicago, she learned the millinery business, and subsequently traveled to Colorado to open her own salon. For many years, she ran a fashionable French millinery salon in Cripple Creek. She expressed how those were the happiest times of her life. She had 18 people working in the salon. Around 1918, she moved to Idaho, where she would eventually own a millinery shop in Twin Falls. At some point, she, along with her two sisters, possessed a fruit farm along the Snake River. She later owned a business in Los Angeles area, where she worked until she was forced to retire at the age of 98.

Before her retirement, she sold her estate in Los Angeles. Before moving into a retirement center, she had fallen and broken her hip. Around 1974, she moved into Alderwood Manor Convalescent Home in San Gabriel. When asked about the secret of her longevity, she explained that despite being constantly aware of life’s challenges and disasters, she has never allowed them to gain the upper hand. In November 1980, she was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest person ever. At that time, she expressed that she didn’t know why God had granted her such a long life, but she was prepared to remain until He was ready and willing to depart when He called.

Thomas passed away in San Gabriel, Los Angeles County, California, USA, on 22 January 1981.

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Recognition

In November 1980, the Guinness Book of Records recognized her as the oldest documented person in history. For many years, it was believed that she attained this title when she surpassed the final age of Delina Filkins (1815–1928) on November 25, 1980 (November 15, according to the GRG, as noted below), at the age of 113 years, 215 days. However, in October 2023, LongeviQuest validated the age of Eliza Underwood (1867–1981), who was determined not only to have been born earlier than Thomas but also to have outlived her. Underwood’s validation revealed that Thomas was never the oldest person ever, not even the oldest living person in the United States at the time of her passing. However, Thomas did hold the title of the second-oldest person ever until Augusta Holtz surpassed her final age in May 1985.

On 17 November 1980, at the age of 113 years, 207 days, she surpassed the final age of Mary Kelly (1851–1964), becoming the oldest person to ever live in the U.S. state of California, as well as the third-oldest person ever, behind Underwood (who was still living at the time), and Delina Filkins. On 25 November, she surpassed Filkins’ final age, becoming the second-oldest person ever. She held the title of California’s longevity record holder until 7 April 1996, when her final age was surpassed by Miriam Carpelan.

Revalidation

Her age was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records during her life, and the validation was later recognized by the Gerontology Research Group. However, the GRG validated her date of birth as 14 April 1867, contrary to the claimed date of birth of 24 April 1867. In November 2023, following a thorough review of documentation uncovered by Jimmy Lindberg, the Global Validation Commission reached the conclusion that Thomas’ claimed date of birth was accurate.

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Attribution

* Frances Leona “Fannie” Thomas – Find A Grave

* “San Gabriel woman oldest ever” – Star News, 25 November 1980

* “Single woman given secret of long life” – Bulletin Journal, 27 January 1981

* “Oldest documented American had Shoshone relatives” – Shoshone, January/February 1981