Title: Centenarian
Birthdate: November 4, 1876
Death Date: September, 1979
Plot Location: Section F, Range 5, Lot 9, northwest

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The Lidazky family brought Amelia into the world when they lived in Germany, then brought her to America in 1880. Nothing more is known of her family or her life until she was 33 and married 24-year old Wesley Gilfillan in 1910. He was a fireman on the Pennsylvania railroad, meaning he shoveled coal into the firebox of a steam engine. They made their home in the Haddington section of West Philadelphia.

Wesley was the last of nine children, born in 1886. Researching his family’s history yielded nothing particularly notable except that the street names where they lived were interesting. Having outgrown their home, they changed their address after their ninth child was born from “Grape Street” to a larger home on “Melon Street” and somebody must have recognized the humor in that. Shortly after the turn of the century they moved to 622 North 38th Street, where Wesley’s father died in 1907.

Three single siblings lived there with his mother in 1910 but Wesley had already moved out when he married Amelia earlier that year. Their first child, Sarah Elizabeth, was born in 1911, followed by Wesley Jr. in 1913. By this time Wesley had been promoted to locomotive engineer and they moved in with his mother. Their last child, Robert was born in November of 1915 but lost his life to pneumonia after seven weeks.

The house passed to Wesley’s sister, Susan, after their mother died in 1919. She and her husband were buried at Mount Moriah beside a son that died as a young child. The 1920 census shows Wesley, Amelia, and their two children living with his sister and a brother, William, neither of whom ever married.

Amelia must have been comfortable with her relationship to her in-laws. She was actually closer in age to Susan than she was to her husband. But there was trouble with her son’s health. Young Wesley was living with a chronic heart disease that cut his life short in 1923 at age 9.

Wesley Sr. was listed as head of the household in 1930, but heart trouble was coming for him as well. His high cholesterol levels led to a blood clot. He died without warning from coronary thrombosis in 1934. The following year saw the coincidental deaths, just one day apart, of both Susan and William. They were buried in the same grave on the same day, July 10, 1935, beside  their parents in Section 24.

What had originally been her father-in-law’s house now passed to Amelia. She was happy to welcome a son-in-law in the spring of 1938 when her only surviving child, Sarah, married Christian Shultz. They lived with her on North 38th Street for another ten years or more. The paper trail ends with the 1950 census as Amelia was part of raising both a grandson and granddaughter. She was able to see both of them become middle-aged adults and give her five great-grandchildren.

With no death certificate or obituary found, her last quarter-century is as mysterious as her first. She lived just two months short of her 103rd birthday, joined seven years later by Sarah. The gravestone above doesn’t list Amelia’s correct birth year as 1876, but it correctly omits mention of their other son, Robert. He was laid to rest with the other Gilfillan family members in Section 24, Lot 33.

Japanese maple tree in front of a monument at Mount Moriah Cemetery

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