17 February 1858Federalsburg, Maryland, United States


5 August 1969Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States



Martha Brown

Martha Frances Brown (née Prattis) was an American supercentenarian whose age has been validated by LongeviQuest. At the time of death, she was the oldest (known) living person in the United States, and the second-oldest living person in the world.

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Brown was born as Martha Frances Prattis in Federalsburg, Maryland, USA on 17 February 1858. Her parents, Alexander Prattis and Ellen Phillips, were freed slaves. In 1876, she moved to Philadelphia.

At some point, she married Luke H. Nichols, with whom she had seven children, including Rev. William Nichols (died 1966). Her first husband passed away in 1928. She worked as a seamstress and teacher. Her second husband, Benjamin Brown, passed away in 1932/1940/1942 (sources differ).

On her 111th birthday in 1959, she received a letter from President Richard Nixon, congratulating her on her longevity.

Brown passed away in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, on 5 August 1969, at the age of 111 years, 169 days. She was survived by her son, Louis (aged 71 at the time), and more than 40 grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.

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Following the death of 110-year-old Agnes Fair on 14 March 1968, Brown may have become the oldest living person in the United States. However, Fair claimed to be only seven days older than Brown, and since Brown’s exact date of birth cannot be confirmed by the birth record, it is possible that Brown was in fact the older one.

At the time of her death, she was the world’s second-oldest living person, behind Ada Roe (United Kingdom), and possibly the only living supercentenarian in the United States at the time. Following her death, Emma Isbell became the oldest known living person in the country.

Validation and Date of birth

Her age was verified by Jimmy Lindberg and Nick Eriksson, and validated by LongeviQuest on 16 August 2023. No birth record exists for Brown, but the 1860 US census match listed her as being 3 years old, which could support her being an entire year older. However, most of the located documents supported birth in 1858, and Brown herself claimed to have been born in February 1858.

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* “Mrs. Benjamin Brown” – The Daily Times, 7 Aug 1969

* “Mrs. Martha Brown; Cited by Nixon at 111” – The Philadelphia Inquirer, 8 August 1969