LOCAL HISTORY SCRAPBOOK: John Shell. “Latest Study of Oldest Man in the World … “

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 27: Scrapbooks, Albums, Gathered Notes

John Shell. “Latest Study of Oldest Man in the World … “

"John Shell, Oldest Man in the World, 131 years old."

“John Shell, Oldest Man in the World, 131 years old.”

A researcher from the National Geographic Society in 1919 de-bunks age of “Oldest Man in the World.”  Says that Shell was “born in Knox County, Tennessee and came to southeastern Kentucky when he was about eighteen and traveled about the country for four year, hunting and trapping, married when was twenty-two or twenty-three and settled down on Laurel Creek about three miles from his present home. ” Official census records indicate John Shell’s age was 97 or 98 years in 1916 not the 131 or 116 he and his exploiters claim him to be.

John Shell. “Latest Study of the Oldest Man in the World … ”  New Church League Journal, Dec. 1921 and Lexington Herald Leader July 1919.   [Page 28a, 28b, 28c, 28d   some pages repeat and are cropped]

TAGS: John Shell ; Greasy Creek, Kentucky ; oldest man in the world ; claims 131 years of age on 3rd of September, 1921; remembers George Washington ; remembers when Napoleon, Lincoln, Darwin, Longfellow, Whittier, Edgar Allen Poe, Daniel Boone and others were alive ; investigated by National Geographic ; Uncle John believes his age to be ll6 ; tax duplicates signed by John Shell in 1809 ; must be 21 years old to pay taxes ; Shell came from Scioto valley in Ohio ; shooting matches on Greasy Creek ; 25 to 30 miles per day walking ; fine eyesight ; Baptist ; religious; descendants in hundreds ; father of 11 children, youngest is 4 years old ; New York scientist proves age is wrong ; Mr. Chappel, lumberman could not vouch for age ; 5 feet 2 inches tall and 103 pounds when visited by New York scientist ; wife died 5 years ago ; eats possum ; eats corn, sweet potatoes and pumpkins ; shoots fish in Greasy Creek for food ; broke his ribs in fall sixty years ago ;  daily dram of liquor ; drinks herb tea ; susceptibility ; insanity suggested by Judge Faulkner in 1892 but cleared by 1897 ; hallucinations ; dementia ; Sherman Ludington ; wife displayed tax receipts for 1848, 1849 and Confederate bills ; William C. Shell is eldest son ; Allen H. Shell, William’s only child ; Polly Huff daughter of John Shell ; Stewart Shell son of Allen and grandson of William Shell ; Shell claimed to be born in same year as Lincoln ; Shell married present wife in 1916 he said ; researcher checked the Census records and cleared up dates ; Robert Ray ; John C. Eversole, Circuit Court Judge ; 11 children of John Shell is most accurate count  ; Sherman Ludington, caretaker for Shell ; Henry M. Campbell ; Rufus Roberts Prosecuting Attorney of Leslie exploited John Shell’s age by exhibiting him at fairs ; John Asher exploited Shell according to researcher ;





Wallace, L. E. T., & Wright State University (Dayton, Ohio). University Library. Department of Archives and Special Collections. (1993). John Shell of Leslie County, Kentucky: (a compilation of papers useful to researching John Shell). Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah.