Lowndes native named oldest living person

Published 5:00 pm Wednesday, June 24, 2015

For a little more than a week, a Lowndes County native has held the title for the oldest living person on Earth.

Susannah Mushatt Jones, 115, was born six months before the dawn of the 20th century on July 6, 1899 in rural Lowndes County.

The third-oldest of 11 siblings, Jones finished high school in 1922, where the graduation roster revealed that she studied “Negro Music in France.”

Email newsletter signup

She moved to New York City a year later to work as a child care professional for wealthy families, including many of whom she treated as her own and remained in touch with throughout the years.

Jones used her salary to help send her nieces to college, and she also funded a scholarship program that she established for African-American students called The Calhoun Club.

After retiring in 1965, she lived with her niece, Lavilla Watson.

Though she returned to Alabama in the 1950s, she was forced to relocate back north due to a number of migrating family members, whom she relied upon for day-to-day help.

The feat gives Jones the rare distinction of being one of only two living people born in the 1800s, alongside Italian woman Emma Morano. She also received tributes from the United States House of Representatives and the Alabama House of Representatives for “a remarkable lifetime of exceptional achievement lived during three centuries.”

Jones is a supercentenarian, or a person who has lived to or passed his or her 110th birthday, and it places her at the top of a short list of 44 other verified living supercentenarians from around the globe.  Only two of the 45 are male.

Though the remarkable achievement might be hard for many to believe, no one is more surprised than Jones herself, according to a second interview with Time.

Jones attributes her longevity to a number of factors, including a strict diet of four strips of bacon for breakfast each morning alongside a serving of eggs and grits.

She also said she has never smoked nor consumed alcohol, and she sleeps approximately 10 hours per day.

In a humorous anecdote, Jones also said that her long life was due to not being married long.

Jones has been blind from glaucoma since she turned 100, though she is otherwise in good health.

Though she avoided vices such as alcohol and cigarettes, she said that she was never able to overcome nice lingerie.

“She would save her money and then go to Bloomingdale’s,” her niece, Selbra Mushatt, told Time last year.

“One time, when she had to get an EKG, the doctors and nurses were surprised to see her wearing that lingerie, and she said, ‘Oh sure, you can never get too old to wear fancy stuff.’”