In February 2023, LongeviQuest received the documentation for Mathew Beard, an American supercentenarian whose age was verified by the Kestenbaum study, and validated by the Gerontology Research Group in 2003.
Beard claimed to have been born in Norfolk, Virginia, USA, on 9 July 1870. With the final age of 114 years, 222 days, he was believed to have been the oldest living person in the world from the death of Emma Wilson on 13 October 1983, until his own death over a year later, on 16 February 1985. He was posthumously validated as the oldest person ever, a title he held between April 1984, until his age was surpassed by Augusta Holtz in 1986. Following his validation, he was also recognized as the first person to reach the age of 114, and the oldest African-American man ever, and currently, the fourth-oldest validated man in history.
After reviewing the documentation submitted by an independent researcher, Jimmy Lindberg, the Global Validation Commission concluded that the validation was inaccurate.
Beard, who got married in 1912, spent most of his life in the U.S. state of Florida. Multiple census records have been located, including Florida State census records from 1935 and 1945 respectively. While the 1920 census entry – the first census record following his marriage, has not been located, the 1930 one was, supporting he was living in Sumter, Florida with his wife and ten children. The entry lists his age as “60” as of April 1930, which is approximately in accordance with his claimed age. Some of the later records also support the claimed age, however, one of the first noticeable deviations is his birthplace was never listed as Virginia, his claimed state of birth. The state of birth varied from Florida, Georgia and North Carolina during the years.
Among the located documentation was the Social Security Application (SSA) in which his parents were reported as “Ned Beard” (“Ned” likely being a nickname for “Edward”) and “Martha Bures.” His birthplace is listed as North Fork in Smyth County, Virginia, not the city of Norfolk. With the basic information from the SSA and newspaper articles, Lindberg was able to locate a possible 1900 US census record entry. Beard, who is listed as having been born in October 1886, was living in Columbia (Georgia) with his parents, Edward and Martha Beard, and five siblings. His birthplace is listed as Georgia, the state that was mentioned as his birthplace in the 1945 Florida State census entry. The 1880 US Census for the same family shows that they were living in Columbia and had two children at the time, Nettie (3 years old) and Jeremiah (3 months old). There is no child named Mathew listed.
It is thought that a wrong 1880 census record was used in the original validation from 2003. A 12-year-old boy named Mathew Baird lived in Milan, Gibson County, Tennessee in June 1880. He lived with his parents, Anderson and Martha Baird. The mother’s name matches with the one from the supercentenarian claimant’s SSA, and perhaps it was assumed that “Ned” was a peculiar nickname for “Anderson”. The 1870 US Census Record for the same family shows Mathew (listed as “Mathis Baird”) living in Carroll County, Tennessee. His age, however, is recorded as “4” on 24 June 1870, so was this the supercentenarian claimant who died in 1985, he would have been 119 rather than 114. Lindberg however located additional evidence supporting these records do not belong to the claimant, since the mother’s maiden name was Bryant, not Bures, and the father was never listed as “Ned.”
Statewide registration of births in Georgia began in 1919, therefore it’s highly unlikely a birth registration can be located. However, considering how the earliest located record dates to 16 June 1900, and since Beard was listed as having been born in October 1886 (therefore 13 years old at the time), it’s safe to assume he was nowhere near his claimed age of 114. Based on the located evidence, it’s more likely he was 98 at the time of death in February 1985.
In conclusion, LongeviQuest no longer recognizes the case as Validated, and is therefore changing the validation status from “Validated” to “Devalidated.” Though his supercentenarian status was effectively debunked, no precise date of birth could be determined.