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The following article appeared in the Clermont Sun, 21 Apr 1886, page 8 columns 3 and 4.  

For more information contact  Jamie Burnett

A Modern Methuselah – Uncle John Long (Colored) Born in 1739 in Virginia 

A Wonderful Instance of the Longevity of Life — A Man Who Remembers Seeing Washington, Randolph, Braddock, Patrick Henry, Lafayette, Light Horse Harry Lee, Lord Cornwallis, and Many Other

Historic Persons of Revolutionary Fame. 

He Died at His Home Near Mulberry, Ohio, on Wednesday, April 14th, at the Advanced Age of One Hundred and Forty-Seven. Funeral Services Were Conducted by the Rev. J. Furgeson, of Walnut Hills, at the Colored Baptist Church. 

John Long, the subject of this sketch, was born a slave five miles from Culpepper Court-House and 30 miles from Richmond, Virginia, in about the year 1739. The name of his master was Mr. Gabe Long, who became subsequently a Major in the Revolutionary army. John was raised a house slave in his earlier years.   His master being wealthy, and one of the first families of the Old Dominion, his palatial mansion was the resort of many of the distinguished men of the time. John Randolph, Attorney General of the Colony prior to the Revolution, and his son, Edward Randolph, afterward Governor of Virginia, spent several weeks during the racing season with Mr. Long. He had a mile track near his residence and many thoroughbreds in his stable.   During any notable's visit the colored children about the house, little Johnnie among the number, were occasionally called into a scramble after biscuit and apples for the entertainment of the guests. In boyhood he heard the distinguished English divine, Geo. Whitefield, preach in a grove to an immense concourse of people. He saw Washington and General Braddock about this time pass through Alexandria, Virginia, on their way to fight the French and Indians, which induces us to place the date about 1756.   One Saturday, in about the year 1765, the colored people of the plantation had a holiday to go to Clarksville to hear the eminent orator, Patrick Henry.  He described him as being a large boned, rather awkard [sic] and coarsely dressed, but with a magnetic power in oratory.   General Lafayette frequently spent days visiting at Major Long's hospitable mansion, but was so broken of speech that old Uncle John the subject of our sketch, could not understand him. He remembered Light Horse Harry Leo and his harassing Lord Cornwallis, in Greene's famous retreat, and the subsequent capture of the-British General at Yorktown in 1781 by Washington.  About this time he made two overland trips in a wagon drawn by six horses to Baltimore with his young master, Wm. Long. His duties were to groom the horses.  On going they remained over night at the old town of Alexandria — the residence of the aristocracy of Virginia in the colonial times —and crossed the Potomac at Georgetown. Washington City was not founded for several years later, viz, 1791. 

In middle life he married a girl named Vina, who died two or three years later, leaving no children, but burying two.   Ha soon married again a young widow named Mary White, the mother of two or three children, one of which subsequently became the mother of Mrs. Harriet Tally now of Mulberry, Clermont county, Ohio.  He said he married her "either before or just after, the stars fell," referring, no doubt, to the great meteoric shower 1799.   His wife was 30, being born about the year 1769, and her husband, the subject of this memoir, was at this time 60 years of age. This we are led to believe from the fact that she has frequently told her granddaughter, Mrs. Tally, that "John was an old man when she was a little girl, and that he was 60 years old and she was only 30 when they were married.  During his slave life he was sold but once and then to Tom Watson, of Caldwell county, for $600, the market being very dull at that time.  He descended from father to son, and from sons to partners for several generations.   This was the reason of his good fortune. He was manager, did no work but superintended, and was the trusted and honored servant of his master. He and his wife had a comfortable little cottage, a garden spot, pigs and cows, and plenty of money.   Ho was never publicly whipped in his life, but he had often to perform 'the unpleasant duty of   punishing others at the post, which he did with the strap or buck-bush.   The day before Christmas every year he would mount his horse for a ten days’ visit with money in his pocket from his master, and unquestioned go where he liked. He said he had no occasion to gain his freedom, for he was never mistreated. Soon after President Lincoln's assassination in 1865 he came to Mulberry, this county, and has lived in this vicinity since. His wife, Mary Long, with whom he had lived peacefully and happily for 80 years, died on the 8th of June, 1869, aged 110 years, and was burled in the Green Lawn cemetery at Milford. Three children were born to him by his last wife, none of whom are living. He lived alone in his little log cabin in a locality near Mulberry, known as Happy Hollow, cooking and caring for himself. But during the past five years he has been exhibited in all the large cities of the United States. He was an ethnological wonder and all museums where he was exhibited drew large crowds to see this modern Methuselah and to hear him tell his story of his 146 years. He did not know whether his parents were long-lived or not, as he left Virginia when they were still living and never heard of them afterward. He attributes his long life, as much as anything else, to an even temper. He never fretted or worried over trouble. His diet, he told me, has been chiefly during his entire life, corn bred and milk, and always ate a light supper. He never used tobacco in any form, but all of his life thro' has taken an occasional dram of good whisky, yet never to excess. He drank coffee and tea, was temperate in his eating and regular in his habits; his teeth, until quite lately have been remarkably good, while his eyesight had grown somewhat dim, yet his hearing was acute as in a youth of twenty. In physical appearance he was of Herculean mould, and in his prime was an athlete that would have been a dangerous antagonist. His head was round, showing evenly balanced mental faculties. His hair and whiskers were of a mouldy look, betokening great age. His memory was remarkably good, and he could recall events that transpired a hundred and a hundred and twenty five years ago more readily than those of recent occurrence. He could neither read nor write, and had he been a field hand he would have known but little of his past history, but being a house slave and that too in wealthy and cultivated families, the important events of the times have been indelibly imprinted on his mind. 

We can only fully comprehend the great length of life of this remarkable man by reviewing the events of interest that have occurred since his birth. What historical memories cover this period! At his birth, 1789, George Washington was a little seven-year-old lad just beginning school, little dreaming of the destiny that awaited him; Franklin, then a young printer, had been appointed postmaster of Philadelphia; Mrs. West, a Quakeress, of Springfield, Pa. was teaching her little twelve-month-old boy, Benjamin, to walk, and would have thought it an humorous illusion if she had been told that the child she was leading would one day become the President of the Royal Academy of Great Britain and the great historical painter of the ages. Pope and Swift, Richardson and Fielding, Hume and Johnson, Goldsmith and Voltaire, Gibbon and Sir Joshua Reynolds were living. Schiller, Goethe and Burns were not born. At twenty- five years of age (1764), Frederick the Great was crushing everything before him in Europe, and laying the foundation of Germany's greatness. Maria Thresa was Empress of Austria, and carefully tutoring the little Viennese Princess, Maria Antoinette, who ten years later was to be come Queen of France. George III had just ascended the English Throne, and the Stamp Act, the entering wedge of the American Revolution, was brewing in the British Parliament. Mozart was a school boy, and Hogarth was dying in London from the caustic criticisms of Wilkes and Churchill, at fifty years of age. 1789, Byron was an infant, in the cradle, and Walter Scott was going to school in Edinburg. The French Revolution was bursting forth in Paris; Danton, Marit and Robespierre were leading a mob past the Tulleries, bearing aloft on spikes freshly decapitated human heads; George Washington had just taken the oath as the first President of the United States; the great Bernadia St. Pierre, was dying in France, while Abraham Lincoln, a five-year-old boy, was playing about an old log house in Spencer county, Ky., unmindful of the epoch he would one day inaugurate in the history of the world; Professor Morse was startling the world by his exhibitions of the electric telegraph. In the University of New York. [sic] Martin Van Buren was now President, and all France was agitated at the prospective arrival of the body of the Great Napoleon from St. Helena. 

This is the most remarkable instance of longevity recorded in the annuls of modern times. From the times of Moses, fifteen centuries B. C., till now, only nine individuals have lived to a greater age than the subject of our sketch. The population of the earth is thirteen hundred millions of people, and during the one hundred and forty six of John Long's life, fifty-two hundred millions of the human family have been born, lived and died.                   


John Long Research

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