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  --  (From the American Review, August, 1912)   Table of Contents     FRANCES JANE BROWN
  --  April 15, 1819--April 16, 1914

Brown, Hallie Q.
Homespun heroines

- GRANDMOTHER GROSS -- 1817--(?)


The subject of this sketch is a picturesque and interesting personage of 108 years of age.

Elizabeth West Gross, familiarly and affectionately known as "Grandmother Gross" was born in New Liberty, Owen County, Kentucky, October 7, 1817.

When three years of age, her mother was sold for debt to Dr. Gayle, New Liberty. There she lived until she was twenty-one, when she married Peter Herndon Gross.

"Granny Gross" is the mother of five children, has fourteen grandchildren, and seventeen great-grandchildren. Her youngest son and last child, nearing seventy years of age, died recently in Pittsburgh, Pa.

During all of her years before the Civil War, "Granny Gross" never left the old plantation, and when freedom came she lived with the daughter of her former mistress, Mrs. Hallum, who lives with her daughter, Mrs. Russell Reville.

Grandmother Gross has been and is yet a great traveler. She has made ten visits to Washington, D. C., some of which were to inaugurations. She has seen many notable persons among whom were Abraham Lincoln and James Buchannon.

She tells of the Indians who often passed her home in great numbers, going to school which was taught by old Col. Dick Jackson. Oft-times they would stop and she gave them food.

She remembers clearly the night of November 13, 1833, when the stars fell as thick as hail.


Sometimes when "Granny Gross" is in a reminiscent mood she will sing snatches of old campaign songs, popular during the Harrison and Tyler and Polk campaigns, to the great delight to her listeners and her own enjoyment.

Grandmother Gross possesses few characteristics peculiar to old persons. She has not taken any medicine in ten years, has recently completed three beautiful silk quilts and crocheted several sets of mats. She seldom uses glasses.

On the occasion of her 106th birthday, October 7, 1923, a noted local baker made and presented to her a handsomely decorated cake mounted by 106 candles.

There was never a more faithful follower of Isaak Walton than is "Granny Gross." Only last September she spent an afternoon fishing at her favorite spot.

A few years ago, she made a visit to the home of her former owner's daughter who is past seventy. Upon her arrival there she found a very sick member of the family. The trained nurse in charge proved incompetent and was forthwith discharged. Then "Granny Gross," at the age of 96, was given the case and the patient recovered. In her prime, she was unsurpassed as a nurse.

Even now at her advanced age, she is wonderfully active and requires the aid of neither crutch nor cane to climb a long stairway to her bedroom.

The Sunshine Club, a charitable club of Urbana, has for several years made Grandmother Gross the guest of honor at its annual dinner given for the elderly women of the city. She looks forward to this event with the delight and happiness of a child.

She makes her home with a grand daughter, Mrs. John Kennedy, of Urbana, Ohio.


  --  (From the American Review, August, 1912)   Table of Contents     FRANCES JANE BROWN
  --  April 15, 1819--April 16, 1914