“Old” is a relative term. What seemed old when I was younger isn’t quite as old, now. And my Grandpa Meintzer was noted for saying that no one should live past the age of 60. Of course, that was probably during the depression, when he was still a long way from 60! Work was scarce and less competition for jobs would have been appealing. As he approached 60, apparently he stopped making that comment–not really surprising! And he lived until age 78–a respectable age for someone from that era.

But this week’s prompt got me wondering about the age at death for all the other people in my tree. Luckily, software makes it fairly easy to distill the data. I have birth and death dates for almost 28% of my 5,552 people. Seventy-five died under the age of 2, including our oldest granddaughter, Grace. The other age brackets break down as such:

2-12:  52                                            50-59:  183

13-19:  32                                          60-69:  275

20-29:  58                                          70-79:  321

30-39:  54                                          80-89:  292

40-49:  111                                       90-99:  64–my mom’s still hanging in there, going on 96, along with her brother, 4 years younger, and 2 “married in” aunts

Three people died over the age of 100 (though one was supposedly born in 1530, and I haven’t confirmed the research on her!).

Naturally, some of these people belong to Mike–I can’t claim them all. Some are “married ins” and have no genetic connection to either of us. And there are LOTS of people for whom I simply haven’t had the time to track down their death date. It’s interesting, though, to look at the data collectively–something I rarely do. Scanning down the spreadsheet, I wasn’t too surprised by the people age 90+ born in the late 1800s. Medical advances explain much of that. But the ones born in the mid-1800s–or more surprisingly, mid 1700s!–were very unexpected. There were similar results among those who died in their 80s. It seems the adage that the older you are, the longer you’ll live, holds true.

Of course, I’m sure you’re anxiously waiting to learn who won the longevity pool! That would be Clara Irene Duckart, who married my dad’s 2nd cousin Edward (Eddie, as Dad always called him) Goessl. Clara and Eddie were both born in 1898, and while Eddie died in 1980 (age 82), Clara lived to 107. Yes, you read that right; she lived in 3 different centuries! It’s a little hard for me to wrap my head around that. Clara and Eddie were both born in Wisconsin, and died there, got married in Minnesota, and their oldest daughter was born in Illinois. So they moved around a bit, presumably for work. My dad had memories of them both, because they were living near him when their oldest daughter was born, 8 years after my dad. Since they were hours away from immediate family, presumably my dad’s family filled that void. When my parents took a road trip to Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, in the fall of 1999, they stopped by Clara’s house in nearby Denmark (Brown County) to visit. Clara was still living in her house, at age 101.

So far, I’ve been unsuccessful in tracking down very many additional details about her life–the meaty little bits to fill in the “dash” (18982005) with personal information. It’s the unfortunate case of too many relatives, too little time, so the collateral families suffer. At least Clara got her “few minutes of fame” (however long it took for you to read this) for having outlived everyone else in my tree!

1977 11 13 GOESSL Ed & Clara 50th anniversay
Undetermined newspaper article printed after 13 November 1977, most likely from the Denmark, Brown  County, Wisconsin area


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