Title: Centenarian, oldest person buried at Mount Moriah
Birthdate: January 3, 1880
Death Date: February 18, 1988
Plot Location: Section E, Range 4, Lot 10

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The number of people who are living more than 100 years is on the rise, as is the average lifespan. It may not be surprising to find more than one centenarian buried at Mount Moriah, considering the large number of graves here, upwards of 190,000 of them. However, probably 95 percent or more of those were here before the 1950s when centenarians were extremely unusual.

Of all the centenarians known thus far to be interred here, Martha Jane Gibson Taylor is currently the oldest at 108. She also left verifiable records to prove it.

Her birth date was incorrectly reported on several census reports and even on her marriage license, but Ireland’s birth records confirmed she was born January 3, 1880 in Cornacrieve, County Monaghan. There were also two dates recorded for Martha’s immigration, either 1904 or 1906, but it might have been earlier since her name was not listed in her family’s 1901 Irish census.

She married William (Bill) Taylor in 1908, shown here in their wedding attire. His own birth date has been listed as 1876, 1878, and 1882, but what remained constant his entire life was his occupation; he was always a carpenter. They moved to Helena, Montana after the wedding and had their son, William, that same year. After the excitement of pregnancy, a wedding, and a move, they were crushed when the baby died of pneumonia two months later.

Carpentry work must not have panned out in Montana, so they returned east and settled in New Jersey from 1910-1918. Three children were born while they were there: William James Jr. (1911), James Albert (1914), and Eileen Elizabeth (1915). James died after three months, so he was the first to be buried at Mount Moriah, the only family member there besides his parents.

The Taylors moved to 504 Reno Street in Philadelphia in 1918. When their second daughter arrived in 1919 they must have had memories of their time in Helena, so they named her Helen. Their last son, John, was born in 1923. All four Taylor children were raised at the same address until the 1930s when the Depression hurt the homebuilding business.

Bill had the type of job that suffered during economic downturns. Census reports in 1930 and 1940 reveal he was usually not employed the entire year. He was unemployed for the first four months of 1940 and worked only 12 weeks in 1939. Fortunately, his two single daughters in their early 20s had steady jobs that kept the family afloat. By then they were living at 768 South 52nd Street.

World War II saw Bill and Martha’s youngest son go overseas with the Army for two years and return safely in 1945. He got married, was a pharmaceutical salesman, and raised three children in Newtown Square, Delaware County. Son John was an engineer with Philadelphia Electric Co. with a wife and three daughters by 1950. Eileen got married in 1949, Helen in 1950, and Martha went to work in the cafeteria of a public school in Philly.

After 55 years of marriage, Bill died in 1963. Martha lived another 25 years, first with daughter Eileen in New Jersey. As this obituary says, she lived the last of her 108 years at a nursing home, being laid to rest with her husband at Mount Moriah.

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

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