Archive for Wednesday, February 29, 2012

100 years ago: Local centenarian has voted for Democrats since 1832

February 29, 2012


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Feb. 29, 1912:

"'I have voted the Democratic ticket from Andrew Jackson in 1832 to William Jennings Bryan in 1908 and I am still voting the same ticket,' declared 'Father' Gilhan recently, after having passed the one hundred and first milestone of his life. Times have changed and politics have changed but the Kansas Centenarian has never swerved from the political choice of his boyhood days, and if he is permitted to see another president elected to the office in the United States there will be a vote from 'Father' Gilhan for the Democratic nominee, be he Harmon, Wilson, Clark or Bryan. The old man is still interested in the political game and is staunch in his belief that this is the Democratic year to win. But 'Father' Gilhan is rapidly failing in health and it is feared by his friends that his long life is drawing to a close. About two months ago he was afflicted with a stroke of paralysis, from which it is feared that he will never recover. Up until that time he had been in good health.... One hundred and one and one-half years is a good old age.... Up until within six months ago Mr. Gilhan had almost perfect eye-sight and never found it necessary to use glasses in his reading. However, owing to his recent illness, his eyes have been affected and he is unable to read at all. Mr. Gilhan has never been known to smoke, but he has been a constant user of chewing tobacco from his early manhood, and he knows that the use of the weed has had no ill effect upon his health.... Mr. Gilhan has always led a simple country life at the old homestead near Worden and it is perhaps due to the simplicity of his country life that he advanced to such a splendid old age. Since the death of his wife he has lived with his son, three and one-half miles southeast of Worden. He has always remained close to the farm and it is said that he has not been in Lawrence for close to forty years.... 'Father' Gilhan is known to all of the residents of the southern part of the county and Lawrence people have often heard of the Kansas Centenarian. All will be sorry to hear of his illness which threatens to end such a long and useful life."


Sarah St. John 6 years, 1 month ago

I can't find Mr. Gilhan's grave online. Maybe he was buried on the farm in Worden? Or maybe his grave just hasn't been added to the database yet.

I really liked this story, though. Just think, the U.S. was only 35 years old when he was born! He witnessed nearly half of the country's history.

FlintlockRifle 6 years, 1 month ago

I would say you were right Miss Sarah, on him being buried on or near the family farm, a lot of the people were buried that way back then, like always good reading.

Tee 6 years, 1 month ago

Glad to see all you Lawrencian Kansans none the worse for your weather!

Sarah St. John 6 years, 1 month ago

Thankee! It was a dark and stormy night....

About the above story: Well gosh darnit! I have just discovered that Mr. Gilhan's name was spelled horribly wrong in the original when the actual spelling is.... well, you'll see find out on Sunday.

No wonder I couldn't find his grave; I was looking for a Gilhan.

I can't imagine how the original 1912 reporter messed up that much. Maybe he was just talking to someone who knew the man, rather than to the man himself, and mis-heard the name. Maybe his informant mumbled and he just made his best guess.

Anyway, tune in on Sunday for..... The Rest of the Story.

LadyJ 6 years, 1 month ago

Back then the average life span was a lot less than it is now, living to 100 was quite a feat.

Lawrence Morgan 6 years, 1 month ago

Another GREAT article! Sarah, are you going to do a book on Lawrence 100 years ago? It would be possible to do a book each year. I think people would really like to hear these stories.


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