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Princeton Press, Saturday, March 17, 1888, reprinted from the New Brunswick weekly Home News, of Feb. 17, 1888: "There is at present in the city of Princeton an interesting old colored lady named Aunt Dinah Schenck, who is a pensioner on the bounty of the ladies of the First Presbyterian Church, and whose ascertained age is beyond a doubt 115 years. At the residence of Mrs. Hampton, an estimable resident on John Street, Princeton, the Home News man was able, a few days since, to greet this centenarian who has lived fifteen years over a century. Dinah is as preserved physically, mentally and visually as many of our citizens of half that age. Being pressed to tell a little of her history, Mrs. Schenck said, "I was not born a slave, but a free born, woman. I was raised in the vicinity of Rocky Hill, and made, when a young girl, many trips to New Brunswick. These were fine times. Just think, eggs were ten cents a score, butter ten cents a pound and pork, any part you wanted, five or six cents a pound. We did not have any cars then, and the coaches used to rattle through from Philadelphia and New York. If a man went to Baltimore or Washington he was counted a great traveler. I remember all the horrors of the Revolutionary war, and recollect those great big fellows they called Hessians. Sometimes I would take a load of fruit to New Brunswick and think I was doing big things if I got home with $5. Those were the days of wood chopping. Great land! A man thought nothing of cutting two cords a day at a dollar a cord. Pshaw! there ain't no men now-a-days. Then, you could, if you had any loose money, take it to the store for safe keeping. Now, its hard even to trust a bank." Aunt Dinah attends the First Presbyterian Church Sunday school. She remarked: "I always inclined to the Baptists, but they've been and gone and quarreled--the Lord forgive them--and we ain't got no church." Mrs. Schenck reared quite a large family, but they are all dead, as is also her husband. She bids fair under the fostering care bestowed upon her to live a long time yet.Mrs. Hampton stated that when she was a young girl, Mrs. Schenck was quite an old lady and that beyond all question of doubt her age is 115 years.
The writer of the above must be an embryonic "Haggard," who thinks he has found another "She" in the person of Aunt Dinah. The story is cut from the whole cloth, and must be taken with many grains of salt. There is such a person as Aunt Dinah, but she is not one hundred years old. Let us examine the figures. If she is 115 years old she must have been born in 1773, four years before the battle of Princeton was fought; yet she claims to remember how the "big Hessians" looked. Aunt Dinah has got the old time "General Training Day," several sham battles, and the late civil war mixed up in a conglomerated mass. Knowing Aunt Dinah all my life and being in possession of the family record which has been handed down from father to son, I have some facts which cannot be refuted. Aunt Dinah is the daughter-in-law of Katie Schenck, who was my grand mother. The record states that Catherine Schenck, was born December 25th, 1786; if Aunt Dinah is 115 years old, she is 13 years older than her mother-in-law. Samuel Schenck who was Aunt Dinah's husband, was born September 2d, 1801; were he living he would be in his 87th year. When he was 21 Aunt Dinah was 49. Youth and old age minus wealth never marry--hardly ever. Again, he says that Aunt Dinah "reared quite a large family." Now uncle Peter Schenck, the great "hog killer," (who by the way was born Jan. 2d, 1809, also brother-in-law of Aunt Dinah) says that she never had any children. The New York World says that all of her kin are dead; the truth is that she has two brothers-in-law and two sisters-in-law living, viz: Peter Schenck, above mentioned, James S. Schenck, (lives in Princeton,) who was born November 10th, 1822, Dianah Johnson born Jan. 21st, 1807, she lives in Portland, Me., and Catherine Richmond, born May 5th, 1820, she lives near the Aqueduct Mills. As for nephews and nieces, there are over forty by actual count, with several back counties to hear from. This does not look as if all of her "kinsfolk" were dead. The Schencks are legion. The original "Katie" Schenck born Dec. 25th, 1786, was the mother of sixteen children, eight sons and eight daughters. Nearly all of them have raised large families; and they still increase and multiply upon the face of the earth. We are original Princetonians, if tracing one's ancestors back in a straight line for over 100 years amounts to anything in regard to precedence." There is a Dinah Schenck listed in the 1880 US Census living in Princeton, Mercer, New Jersey and listed as being 70 years old. She is in the household of James Onque.
Specifically: New Jersey
Created by: Richard Arthur Norton (1...
Record added: Nov 13, 2003
Find A Grave Memorial# 8082734
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