The Longest Living Person in My Genealogy Database: Zeola L. Portis

It’s Week 3 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series and this week’s prompt is “Longevity.” For this prompt, I decided to check my genealogy database and find the longest-living person.

I use TNG: The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding for my primary software program and it is easy to run statistics and find the longest-living person. This calculation can only be done when there are definitive birth and death dates, so as it stands right now, the longest-living person is Ms. Zeola L. Portis. She was born January 6, 1902, and died September 19, 2008. She was 106 years old when she passed away.

Zeola L., age 8, in the 1910 Calvert, Robertson County, TX census as the youngest child of her mother Hattie.

I learned about Zeola from a fellow genealogist who contacted me after finding my information online about my ancestors from Edgecombe County, NC – specifically, relatives of my 3rd great-grandmother, Mariah Wimberly.  Zeola’s grandparents were Reddin Battle and Amanda Wimberly and we suspect Amanda and Mariah are related – possibly sisters. If Amanda and Mariah are sisters, then I would be Zeola’s 1st cousin three times removed.

Zeola and her family were from Calvert, Robertson County, Texas. And, upon being contacted by the other genealogist and doing research, I discovered that one of Mariah’s brothers moved from Edgecombe County, NC down to that area of Texas; I’ve been able to definitively source his move and his family; in addition to tracing several other Edgecombe County families to that same area.  It is through a conversation with Zeola that my geneabuddy was able to learn about the family’s migration from North Carolina, so Zeola’s oral account, and the documentation I’ve located so far converge.

My research on Zeola and her family is far from complete, but I should re-focus and consider what steps I can take next to seek out more evidence for Amanda’s relationship to my family. I will definitely have to put my thinking cap on.