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Oldest Man In The County

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There is a queer oharacter oo Norria street, in the fonrth ward of Ypsilauti, in the person of a man who is probably the oldest person iu Washteuaw connty, if not in the state of Michigan. For the past five or six years he haa been maintaining that he was past the century mark and often surprised nis aoquiautauces when he wonld ask: "How old do you suppose I am," by an answer to theic reply wbioh invariably was " Well, I am over a bundred years old," and the oldest settlers by oounting back are convinced of the tiuth of his statements. "You can reckon it up for yourselves - I was 2' jeais old when tbe war of 1812 broke out," says Jonathan McGee, who livea at 618 Norris st. as soou aa the qnestion was asked of him as to his exact age. Tbis makes the old man 108 years of age, he beiug nshered into the world aboat the same time the United States was bom, and thns carne very near being a twin to his native country. He has lived nnder every president tbe United States ever had, and SVashingtou had ouly served about a year of bis flrst term when Jonathan McGee looked out for the first time on the strange world. As old a settler as O. E. Thompson, who is a man of undoubted integrity and the last man in the world to be taken by a fairy tale, firmly believes in McGee's claim, and Mr. Thompson says: "I was born here in Ypsilanti in 1838 and I can remember back 56 years ago wheu I was a little bit of a tot seeiug Mr. McGee working at an engine he was running and he was an old man then. I am sure be is over 105 years old." Mr. McGee was seên at his home by Tbe Timps m:iu and Mr. Thompson one bright ilay tbis week and Mr. McGee, notv i. Lstauding his very advanced age, tn busy raking up his yard. Mr. Thompson says that he is always busy about his yard or outting wood. Consequently he is not very feeble. His black eyes sparkle brightly aud give his countenance a look tbat makes one almost doubt his years. Besides, his hearing is as good as anybody's in one ear and he does uot use eye glasses. In fact be threaded a needie for The Times man to show how good his eyesight is. "I guess I could make all you young fellows feel ashamed if yon would try to beat me at rifle shootiDg," said he very prondly. His hair is loog and curly and his beard, whioh is straggly, is iron gray. His features are more those of an Indian than a Negro, to which race he is BUDDOsed to belong but he gives his breeding as half-Indiao. He has a good set of teeth left yet, and attributes this good fortune to having never eaten rioh food nor used tobáceo. Mr. McGee is stooky in build, his body being bent abont like a man of 70, bot th.e muscles of his arins and legs seem firm aud knotty. He invariably teüs the history of his life in the same way but sometimes oontradioting himself on minor details. When questioned abont things which oomred daring his early days he is bothered muoh to remember exact details but these de fects in his tnemory are not marked for a man of his great age. His stoiy in his own words is as follows: "Iu the war of 1812 1 was a 'look out' aüd was 23 years oíd. A 'look-out is a man who goes abead of a genera ike a scout. I do not know jast what day I was born, for my mother never old me that I remember of. I was born 25 miles from Kuoxville, Ala. My mother was a full-blooded Indián woman whom iny father kidnapped in Pennsylvania and took into elavery. My 'ather was a Scotch-Iiishman and he was my owner as well as father. When the boats carne up into Pennsylvania my mother and her two brothers were hired to help load the boat. Whea they had fluished the captain gave theui au iuvitatïou to take a short boat ride. They went aboard and were taken down below in the afterpart. The wheels were started up and that is the way tuy mother was stolen into slavery. My father, who was an owner in the boat, ohose ray mother for a servaat in the family because she was handy at ueedle work. She was taken down on his big plantation in Alabama and lived there tour years before I was born. "My father was Major-General McGee in the wat of 1812, and I was his 'look-out.' 1 was with him at the time General Jaeksou defeated Packingham at New Orleans aud that was a big battle. The figbting was below New Orleans. I recollect when I was pot on the mnie to go anead of General McGee we were told that the enemy was 70 miles away. Early in the morning just after I had blown tbe bngle that evetything was all right we rau into the enemy and my mule was shot dovvn from under me. I saw General Jackson mauy times. In my 24th year I asked the man who was iu partnership with my father iu the boiler and engine works to try and buy me my liberty. I was a good workman and Mr. Robiuson (that was his name), offered $1,800 for rue and got me my freedom. I then went with him as a paid workman to St. Louis and then te where Chicago is now. Thea I went to Norfolk, Ohio. I was also in the Mexican war and saw Gen. Taylor, Gen Soott, and all the big fellows. I have got a scar over iny eye whicb I received froru a sabré ent in this war. Tben I was in the last war too. That makes me a soldier in three wars. Wby, Ardon H. Ballard, who oame here to Ypsilanti 60 years ago, I kne.w in Norfolk, Ohio, and worked for him there 18 yeais before he carne here. As a proef that I was in the war of 1812, here is an oíd pistol I oarried then. (Mr. MoGee showed an old flint-lock pistol and he seenied to prize it as highly as anything in his possession)." "Ever drank any whiskey, Mr. McGee?" was asked. "I have tasted whiskey, bnt.would not let it ever go down noy throat, I wonld always spit it out." ''Do yon smoke?" "Well, I can smoke if I want to, but I don't want to. I never smoked as mach as two oigars in my life. " "Ever chew tobaoco?" "I oan, but I don't, and never have." "Ever been siok?" "Never was sick but twice in my life and had what they cali the grip both times, and all the doctors' medioine I ever took was fonr years ago when I swallowed a few pilla. I get my own roots for my bitters, whiob I make every (all. I ain very carefnl about prepared foods. I won't have these ready made foods yon get in butcher sbops and grooeries. Two-tbirds of ruy eating is ravv meat. The eun inakps abont all the fire for cooking my food tbat I waut. " Mr. McGee bas har) two viives and seven cbildreu, three of the latter being still alive. He jooks as if be was good for quite a few years yet and tbe chauces are if he keeps vip his good habita he will livu to be au old man.


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News