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Kitty Harvey

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Validated By: Test Validator On Date: May. 23rd 2023

Kitty Mary Harvey (née Bonham) was an American supercentenarian whose age has been validated by LongeviQuest. It's believed that, at the time of her death, she was the world's oldest living person.


Harvey was born as Kitty Mary Bonham in Elizabethtown, Hamilton County, Ohio, USA, on 12 January 1860. Her parents were Aaron Elijah Bonham (1832–1862) and Portia Nerissa Olmstead (1833–1930). She had two older brothers: John Lewis (1855–1944) and Everett (1858–1931). Her father died shortly before her 3rd birthday. She remembered a few incidents of the Civil War. A regiment of Union soldiers, passing through the town were given a big dinner by the townspeople.

When Kitty was six years old, her mother remarried Horace Bushnell (1836–1909), and the couple had two children: Carrie Butterfield (1866–1925) and Herbert Hastings Bushnell (1871–1960). The family moved to Kansas in 1869. Her stepfather was a Presbyterian minister in Minneapolis, and later Concordia.

At the age of 16, she entered Western Female seminary (later Western College for Women) in Oxford, Ohio to study music. She was advised to leave the college because of her poor health in 1878. Over 90 years later, in 1969, she college granted her an honorary Bachelor of Arts degree as “an American extraordinary, a maker of history and a master of the art of living well.”

In 1878, she moved to Minneapolis, Ottawa County, Kansas, where she married William L. Harvey (1846–1900) the following year. The couple had one son, Frederic (1881–1959), and a daughter in 1883 who died shortly after birth. In the 1880s, they moved to Oklahoma. Her husband was a judge, serving several terms as clerk of the court and serving as postmaster at Minneapolis. In 1894, he was elected probate judge of Lincoln County, Oklahoma. In July 1894, Kittie witnessed a bank robbery attempt by the ’Cook gang’. On 30 March 1897, she and her son survived a tornado that took 25 lives and injured 150 people in Chandler. Her husband died of malaria on 5 September 1900, aged 53. Following his death, she returned to Minneapolis. She lived with her son and mother, who died in 1930, at the age of 96.

At the age of 95, she wrote her memoirs which were published by the Oklahoma Historical Society. Her son, who was a prominent physician in Minneapolis, passed away in 1959, several months before his mother’s 100th birthday. Her son had no children of his own, so she had no descendants in her centenarian years. She attributed her longevity to good eating habits. At the age of 111, she stated that her eyesight and hearing were deteriorating.

Harvey passed away in Minneapolis, Kansas, USA on 10 July 1972, at the age of 112 years, 180 days.

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On 12 December 1969, following the death of 110-year-old Emma Isbell, she became the oldest (known and validated) living person in the United States. She was a month away from her 110th birthday.

It’s believed that Kitty Harvey became the world’s oldest living person on 11 January 1970 (a day before her 110th birthday), following the death of 111-year-old Ada Roe of the United Kingdom. Harvey’s age was not validated by Guinness World Records at the time of her passing, and they recognized the Spanish woman Josefa Salas Mateo (14 July 1860) as the new titleholder. However, Harvey claim to being roughly six months older than Josefa was never submitted to GWR or any other age validation organizations of the time.

Following her death in July 1972, she was succeeded by Josefa Salas Mateo, who outlived Harvey by more than half a year.

Her age was validated by LongeviQuest on 23 May 2023, based on the research of Jimmy Lindberg and Nick Eriksson.

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* “Kittie Mary Bonham Harvey” – FindAGrave

* “MEMOIRS OF OKLAHOMA” By Kittie M. Harvey

* Salina Journal – 17 January 1960

* “Mrs. Kitty Harvey Has 101st Birthday” – The Salina Journal, 12 January 1961

* “For “Sickly” Girl She’s Doing Okay” – The Salina Journal, 13 March 1966

* “Scholarship fund has goal for 111th birthday present” – The Salina Journal, 5 January 1971

* “’Sickly’ college dropout died at 112” – The Salina Journal, 11 July 1972