Oldest Living Man
from Nashville Daily American
October 1, 1875

submitted by Sarah Armistead

October 1, 1875, Nashville Daily American


THE OLDEST LIVING MAN. Milan, Tennessee.  You recently published an account of a Revolutionary soldier 114 years old which induces me to write you the following account of old Fortune Snow who is one hundred and twenty-six years of age.  Visited him on 9th of July1872 and learned from him his history.  When I, in company with a friend, approached the house, a fifteenth amendment, 62 years old, came out and said his “grand-pap” was in the house. Snow soon made his appearance, tripping down the steps as nimbly as a boy without even a stick.  He said he was born in Georgetown, South Carolina and was twenty-five years old when the Revolutionary war began.  He was married at twenty and became the father of thirteen children, the youngest of whom, a daughter 53 years of age, died two years ago. He belonged to Captain Snow who served under General Marion. Old Fortune served with his master through the war and in nearly every battle shouldered his gun and went in front, yet has never received a pension. If the government loved the negro as well as it loves his vote, this old man would be cared for.


He moved from South Carolina to near Mobile and lived there fifty years.  At the death of Captain Snow, he gave a Mr. Chapman, his son-in-law, $500 to support old Fortune the balance of his days.  This man, Chapman, lived forty-seven years and died and left the old negro still hale and hearty.  Snow subsequently moved to Gibson county, in this State, and settled near Pickettsville, about six miles west of Milan.


On examination with the ophthalmoscope, I found his eyes perfect in all their parts.  The otoscope revealed a health condition of the organs of hearing. He told me he went totally blind at the age of about ninety and remained so for two years.  His hair, as white as wool, all came out.  Subsequently his sight returned and a new growth of hair made its appearance which is now about half gray.  He never suffers with toothache, not having an unsound tooth in his mouth - nor any other kind.  He enjoys good health, never wore spectacles nor took a dose of medicine from a doctor.


I opened his Bible at the VIII chapter of the book of Revelations which he read loudly and distinctly without glasses. He says he loves to fish and hunt and can shoot birds and squirrels without the aid of glasses.  He is very pious and believes strongly in the “Good God” as he calls him who, he said, “took him safe through the Revolutionary War.” He reads his Bible and prays a great deal. He has been strongly urged to go to the Centennial but has refused all solicitations and says if the “folks want to see him, let ‘em come.”


This venerable colored person recently emigrated to Mississippi with a large body of negroes who took the train at Humboldt where hundreds of the citizens visited him to see the oldest man living. Many will probably doubt this statement but a conversation with him would convince any one of its correctness. Besides, there are hundreds of responsible persons who would corroborate what I have given above.  A. A. Davidson