One would have to consider it a special gift when a family can celebrate five generations. Minnie Susie Elliott had nine children. Between them (five are surviving), there are 27 grandchildren, 47 great-grandchildren, and 13 great-great -grandchildren. That is a houseful when they all come together.
This Saturday, July 30, this family tree will come together at Tyler’s Retreat, Elliott’s home for the last six years, for a very special celebration for Minnie Susie Elliott, when she celebrates her 107th birthday. She was born August 1, 1909.
Village News visited Elliott when she turned 100. She had said she never wanted to live to be a 100-year-old woman. Now she has been quoted as saying, “The good Lord just doesn’t want to take me.”
According to the Census Bureau, the centenarian population in the U.S. has increased by 65.8 percent in the past thirty years. There were over 32,000 people ages 100 and over in 1980; in 2010, over 50,000 people lived past 100.
Leslie R. Martin, author of “The Longevity Project,” a book chronicling a study of 1,500 people over eight decades, found that religious women tended to live longer. Elliott said it was important for her to have a Christian husband when she married. She was very active in Oak Grove Baptist Church and continued to participate with the Oak Grove Seniors meetings until the age of 100. She wrote in 2009 that she loved the story in the Bible about King David.
“He walked by faith, just as I try to do every day and trust you will, too.”
Research has also linked walking to longevity; people who walk more and at a faster gait are more likely to live longer than those who do not walk as fast, according to a University of Pittsburgh study. Elliott loved to dance and continued into her 90s.
Sue Patton, her daughter, also said Susie is and has been mostly a vegetarian. “She ate very little meat,” she said. “Always fresh food.”
Elliott is confined to a wheelchair today, is on no medication, and enjoys her orange-crème Mighty Shakes during meal time. Patton said she sleeps a lot and is eating less each mealtime which is a sign her body may be shutting down. But her vision is still pretty good, has some hearing loss, and when she has something to say, she will speak.
She still loves the outdoors. “She perks up when we go outside,” said Patton. “She is an outdoor girl. When my brother took her out one day she said, ‘You know Billy; I am just an old hillbilly girl.’”
Elliott was born and raised in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in an area called Meadows of Dan, Va. She was from a large family. All of her brothers and sisters have passed away.
Patton said she has received the nickname of “Chicken” at the Nursing Home. “She started calling people that a number of years ago because she could not remember their names,” she said. “Most of the staff refers to her as ‘Chicken’ which we all love. She amazes us all at 107 years. She does get things confused from time to time but as a whole she does very well. She always knows most of her family.”
Recently one of her granddaughters, Lori Patton, did a little history of things that have taken place in her lifetime. When she was born most American homes did not have electricity, including hers. Major electrical grids didn’t come along for another twenty years. William Howard Taft was president and there have been 18 presidents since then. Of those presidents, only five are still alive. When she was born, women did not have the right to vote; that didn’t come until 1920. There were a great number of Civil War veterans living throughout her early life, and she lived through two World Wars, the Great Depression and the Civil Rights era. During her lifetime the United States has been involved in seven major wars. She was 43 when the concept for the modern computer, the integrated circuit, was first conceived in 1952. She has seen the rise of the modern, mechanized and computerized society. So a lot has taken place during her 107 years that would amaze us all.
“Her longevity is a mystery to all of us,” Patton said. “We just figure God is not through with her yet!”
Surviving children include George Elliott, Billy Elliott, Betty Patton, Donnie and his wife Mary Elliott, Sue and her husband Paul Patton, and Ralph’s surviving spouse, Dana Elliott. Her deceased children are Richard, Ralph, Jean and Kitty Mae.