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Friday, September 11, 2009

Gertrude Baines: The World's Oldest Person, The Last Link To 1894, Has Passed On

Gertrude Baines, the last representative of the year 1894, aged 115, of California passed away today. She was the daughter of an actual slave (her father was born into slavery in 1863 - a very rare familial link to that institution these days), alive when people were still figuring out how to make an operational radio, years ahead of production-line automobiles, decades ahead of television, already an adult when World War I started and middle-aged when World War II started. During her childhood, there were still a handful of people who were born in the 1700s, a handful of War Of 1812 Veterans and a handful of "Real Children" of Revolutionary War Veterans and as she grew older, the thousands of remaining Mexican War and Civil War Veterans were passing on each year. She was one of the last living vestiges of Grover Cleveland's Presidential Administration and the Victorian Era. Her life spanned three centuries.

Gertrude Baines was the last verified person on Earth who actually lived in the year 1894 - her death closes the chapter on 1894 forever. The last verified person on Earth who actually lived in the year 1893, Maria de Jesus of Portugal, died in January of this year at the age of 115. 114-year-old Kama Chinen of Japan is now the world's oldest person. She was born on May 10, 1895.

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I am a(n) researcher and archivist.