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Archive for Sunday, January 26, 1992

CENTENARIAN LOOKS TOWARD NEXT MILESTONE

January 26, 1992

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"I'll tell ya what," says Jesse Hostetter, anticipating his 100th birthday Tuesday.

"I was born in one century, and there I was in another century, and if I live to be 109, I can brag on something no one else can.

"I'd have lived in three centuries."

It seems just making 100 isn't enough for Hostetter, who is clearly intrigued by being able to make a triple-century claim, for which he actually only needs to reach age 108.

But the local centenarian added he doesn't really think he'll live that long, despite his youthful demeanor.

Now residing at Jo Faulconer's care home west of Lawrence, Hostetter still sports quite a shock of hair, hears well and looks robust despite poor eyesight, gout and a memory that he says "comes and goes" on him.

MRS. FAULCONER, whose mother also knew Hostetter, will host a birthday open house for him from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday. Her home, Rt. 7, Box 98, is just west of the intersection of Highway 40 and Wakarusa Drive on the north side of the highway. It is the house immediately east of the co-op horse stable.

Hostetter, meanwhile, spends most of his time in his room, often in the company of Mrs. Faulconer's pet Chihuahua, Cujo. Hostetter worries about his medicine and about friends he fears have lost track of him, but he still can transport a visitor back in time with stories of his early days in Kansas.

In fact Kansas isn't a whole lot older than Hostetter, and they almost share the same birthday. Hostetter's falls one day before Kansas Day, which this year celebrates the state's 131st birthday.

Hostetter said he was born Jan. 28, 1892, near Lawrence at a place known as the Blackman Farm. It lay on the west side of Mud Creek, near the Douglas-Jefferson county line about 2 miles north of Lawrence.

HE WAS, he said, the seventh of nine children of Dailey and Cynthia Hostetter, who had come from Missouri to Kansas to farm. Today, he is the only surviving child from that family.

Famous even now among older local farmers for his skill at corn husking and dairying, Hostetter spent most of his life from age 13 doing agricultural work here and elsewhere in the United States.

He traveled about, he said, mostly by hopping freight trains, hitchhiking and walking.

A nephew, Dr. Philip Hostetter of Manhattan, said itinerate farm workers such as his uncle were important in the days before machinery eased the manual labor of harvest time.

He noted his own father lived to be 93, and other family members of that generation also were long lived.

Louise Maxine Voelker of McLouth, one of the elder Hostetter's daughters, remembered when she was a small child her father coming home one time "so elated" because he'd won $100 in a corn-shucking contest a lot more money in those days than today.

PHILIP Hostetter's brothers, Clyde of San Luis Obispo, Calif., and Robert of Beaverton, Ore., also remembered their uncle from periodic visits he paid to their family home near Mayetta years ago.

Clyde Hostetter recalled Jesse as "a world-class cornhusker," and Robert, who now helps Jesse with business affairs, said, "He c

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