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Oldest American Dies

  • VOA News

FILE - In this Monday, June 22, 2015 photo, Lois Judge, left, helps her aunt Susannah Mushatt Jones, during breakfast in Jones' room at the Vandalia Avenue Houses, in the Brooklyn borough of New York.

FILE - In this Monday, June 22, 2015 photo, Lois Judge, left, helps her aunt Susannah Mushatt Jones, during breakfast in Jones' room at the Vandalia Avenue Houses, in the Brooklyn borough of New York.

Family and friends are mourning the death of the world's oldest person, who passed away Thursday night in Brooklyn, New York.

Susannah Mushatt Jones died at the senior citizens home where she lived at age 116, said Robert Young of the Gerontology Research Group, which maintains a database of the world's longest-living people.

Affectionately known as "Miss Susie," "Ms. Jones was the very last American from the 1800's," Young said.

She had been sick for the past 10 days, according to Young.

In 1899, Jones was born in a small farm town near Montgomery, Alabama. She and her 11 siblings were the children of sharecroppers and the grandchildren of slaves.

She walked seven miles to a special school in Alabama for African-American girls and graduated in 1922. Her family paid the tuition with wood they cut for fire and corn they had grown.

After graduating, Jones helped family members pick crops for a year. She then moved to New Jersey, where she worked as a nanny and eventually ended up in New York.

Once in New York, she and her fellow high school graduates established a scholarship fund for African-American women to attend college.

Jones' niece told the Associated Press last year that she "adored kids" but never had any of her own. She was married for a few years.

With Jones' passing, the world's oldest person is 116-year-old Emma Morano of Italy. She was also born in 1899, a few months after Jones.

Morano is believed to be the last person alive born in the 1800s.

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