Title: Centenarian, milliner
Birthdate: December 27, 1872
Death Date: January 3, 1973
Plot Location: Section 30, Lot 40, northwest quarter

Screenshot (2061)

Grace was born to a family that was already well-acquainted with grief. Her father was a carpenter who married in 1861. The couple had a son in 1862, but he died in 1863 of cholera. Their second son was born in 1864, but he died of cholera in 1866. Their third was born in 1867 but he died at age 8 in 1875 of a heart problem. Grace was just two years old at the time.

She grew up as an only child in the Fishtown neighborhood, not far from the Delaware River. At age 23 she was engaged to a newly graduated medical doctor from the University of Pennsylvania. His name was Allen Worthington Stewart, but they never had the chance to see their wedding day. On Valentine’s Day of 1896 he died of tuberculosis that he may have picked up from a patient.

Allen had one sister, Josephine Wheatcroft, who remained close to Grace as life went on. She had one son, Allen Stewart Wheatcroft who would have been her only nephew. In fact, he grew up knowing and being loved by his “Aunt Grace,” as did his descendants.

The census reports for 1900 through 1930 listed her as a “milliner,” selling women’s hats at a department store. Family records say she also made hats and custom bridal headpieces for sale on her own.

Her later years are undocumented but the descendants of Allen Wheatcroft continued to care for her like family. Grace was still working when one of them was born on the day she celebrated her 84th birthday in 1956. They would share birthdays together, and Grace was always part of the family’s Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings.

Grace died just seven days after her 100th birthday. Her three brothers, her parents, and her mother’s family were all laid to rest together in what is now a wooded lot in Section 40. Unfortunately, no gravestones have been found for any of them.

There are three other centenarians at  Mount Moriah who had never married. Mary Ann Crothers, after her 104th birthday, felt she could claim the title of “the oldest old maid in the world.” The others are Agnes Neubauer and Katharine Rosengarten.

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

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