Oldest Living Twins, 1910

Here’s another article on John Meshack Phipps that seems to have been overlooked earlier, although some of the content was duplicated elsewhere. From the Times-Republican, Marshalltown, Iowa, February 12, 1910, p. 2:

Phipps Brothers Meet Near Shenandoah to Celebrate Ninety-Eighth Birthday.
One Journeys Far to Spend Day with Brother
John M. Phipps, of Shenandoah, and Eli Phipps, of Oklahoma, a Remarkable Pair – John Phipps Once Taken for John D. Rockefeller’s Father – Real Pioneer of Iowa.

Special to the Times-Republican.

Shenandoah, Feb. 12. – The oldest living twins in the world met at a country home near here today and on Monday will celebrate their ninety-eighth anniversaries. One of these remarkable men journeyed all the way from Oklahoma to spend his birthday with his venerable brother, Eli Phipps, of Hennessey, Okla., arriving here today. The brother is John M. Phipps, who resides on a farm between Shenandoah and Farragut.

Some weeks ago Chicago newspapers published an account of the lives of twins ninety-one years old and claimed for them the distinction of being the oldest twins in the world but Shenandoah can beat that by seven years. John and Eli Phipps were born in Washington county, Virginia, Feb. 14, 1812.

The life of John M. Phipps has been remarkable in some ways, chiefly in the temperate manner of his life, which no doubt has been the chief cause of his longevity, and also that of his brother, for no doubt the manner of life of the one is the story of the other also.

John M. married late in life, at 30, but even thus his marriage dates back to three years before the Mexican war. He married Mary E. Long, Feb. 27, 1842, and thru this marriage is shown the relationship to O. S. Long, the merchant of this city. Mrs. Phipps died Oct. 16, 1907, after a wedded life of sixty-five years.

A Real Pioneer.

Mr. Phipps came to Iowa about 1836, ten years before its admission in the union and when the only population was a fringe of settlements along the navigable rivers. He has been a farmer all his life, but living for a time in Missouri and Nebraska and then coming back to Iowa and settling near Farragut about thirty years ago where he has since resided. He came here from near Independence, Mo.

Mr. Phipps never used tobacco, opiates or liquor. He used plain food and loved corn bread, buttermilk and cider. He nearly always took a nap at noon, and spent a great deal of time out of doors. He loved the open air and exercise, and even now at his great age it is hard to keep him in the house as much as necessary for his health. In all his long life he has had but few spells of sickness and has taken but little medicine. He never had but one spell of fever, that was when a young man. He used to cure himself of rheumatic attacks by cutting a hole in the ice and sitting with his feet hanging in the icy water beneath.

A Remarkable Man.

Mr. Phipps is a remarkably vigorous man for his age, insisting upon doing hard work, until recently and even now doing more work then many men forty years younger. He travels alone to visit relatives in Nebraska and a few days ago made a trip to Leon, Iowa. The train from Farragut to Shenandoah was late and when he reached Shenandoah the K. & W. train had pulled out to the Y a half mile away, but Uncle John started off on foot to catch the train, caught it and went on his way rejoicing.

Mr. Phipps has been a great man to ask questions, but always reticent to talk about himself. Regarding his early life he will seldom talk, altho he could no doubt tell incidents and experiences enough to make an interesting book. This reticence, or modesty, brought him notoriety a few years ago that proved amusing after it was over. Miss Ida Tarbell, a magazine writer, stated that William Rockefeller, father of John D. Rockefeller, was living under an assumed name in obscurity in Iowa, and the Chicago papers undertook to find him. They got a clue that the old man was living near Shenandoah and reporters were sent here from Chicago to hunt him up/ There was no one here of the right age to fill the description except Uncle John Phipps and for two or three days they labored with the problem of proving that Phipps and Rockefeller were the same person. They drove to his home before daylight and pestered the old gentleman with questions by the hundred, trying to get him to admit that he was William Rockefeller, but the clue was a false one. There has never been any reason to think that Mr. Phipps is other than he represents himself to be.


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