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Wayne County News
May 15, 1924


The oldest person in Wayne county, and in all probability the oldest in the whole state, died at her home in Westmoreland, this county, Friday, when Hannah Blankenship, age 108 years, died following a comparatively recent illness.

Notwithstanding the fact that she was more than one hundred years old, Mrs. Blankenship was active until within a few months before her death.

The aged Westmoreland woman made her home with her daughter, Mrs. Maggie Loar.

Didn't Want Silks

"When I pass out I don't want any fine silks," Mrs. Loar quoted her mother as often saying. "I just want to wear a black dress like I used to have when I went out in the country."

And this rugged mountain woman, who was not without a vein of sentiment, wanted on her head a cap like the women of another day wore in the last long sleep.

She had her wish. Fitting snugly to her brow was a little black cap, trimmed with white frill about its edge. And the coffin--it was made at her request by R. R. Via--was covered with black broadcloth and lined with silver cloth, just as she had wanted it. Around the edge of the coffin, at the top, was a black lace ruffle, and this also was as she had asked.

Even the curious superstitions retained by the old lady as a heritage from the mountain fastness were respected, and she was laid out, not by an undertaker, but by intimate friends. They placed copper coins on her closed eyes , and a bowl of salt on her form--the latter precaution to keep the body from swelling.

Born in 1816

Mrs. Blankenship, as nearly as she could remember, was born in 1816, in Pike County, Kentucky, and there she was reared. When she was little more than two years old, her mother died. She and her brother were then placed under the care of paternal grandmother.

"She took care of us, and we lived with her for a long time," she said recently in recalling a few incidents in connection with her childhood.

They had a hard time to get along, she said. Her father remarried when she was eight years old. He died at the lage of 104 years.

Until two years ago, when rheumatism crippled her, Mrs. Blankenship was active. She frequently walked from her daughter's home in Westmoreland to Huntington or to Ceredo. And even after rheumatism handicapped her in her usual activities, she insisted on going to the polls to vote.

She attended services on the occasion of Mother's Day one year ago at Vinson Memorial churach and won a prize awarded to the oldest mother present. Up the Big Sandy river, she had been a member of the Baptist church.

Smoked All Her Life

Mrs. Blankenship smoked all her life. She couldn't remember just when she started, but for many, many years a pipe had been her most constant companion.

Her own children she reared in Catlettsburg. Three of them are living--the daughter already mentioned, and two sons, H. M. and Harvey Blankenship.

The venerable woman always wore a black sunbonnet, a white apron and collar, and took considerable pride in her appearance. Her mind was good up the the last few weeks. Her teeth all were good, as were also her eyes. She pieced quilts up to the last year of her life.

Twenty-four grandchildren, twenty-two great-grandchildren and numerous great-great grandchildren survive. Miss Runyon was Mrs. Blankenship's maiden name. She was married at the age of sixteen to Conley Blankenship.

Funeral services were conducted Sunday morning at the home of her daughter in Westmoreland. Burial was in Catlettsburg, where her youngest half-sister had been laid to rest.


Four men. . .arrested by state and federal prohibition agents in a series of moonshine raids in the upper end of Wayne county, were held to the next term of federal court at Huntington, when arraigned before United States Commissioner J. P. Douglass on Monday. All were returned to jail in default of bond. Approximately 2, 700 gallons of corn mash, three moonshine stills and a quantity of shine were confiscated by the officers conducting the raids. A gun battle between three moonshiners and Clay Williams, state prohibition agent, and United States Marshal E. E. Buskirk, brought the raiding expedition to an end. The officers believe one of the moonshiners was shot and seriously wounded. The raid was conducted on Alum Branch near the mouth of Kiahs Creek in Grant district.

Transcription by June White

Wayne County News