The centennial anniversary of a hale old lady.
February 6, 1890
Furnished by Carl Tintle (great-grandson)
The attainment of a hundred years of life is always an event of great rarity and importance, under any circumstances, but is made particularly momentous when a person reaches that age with the faculties of the mind in a good state of preservation. Such is the happy lot of a lady resident of Morris County - Mrs. Eleanor Tintle, who lives just on the outskirts of Butler, in the township of Pequannoc. The only way that one can get an adequate idea of such an age is by comparison with leading events in history which seem very remote. By so doing we find that Mrs. Tintle was born in the first year of Washington's first presidential term, and was nearly ten years old when Washington died. she was a young woman when the great Napoleon had reached the zenith of his power in Europe, and was a matron of nearly two score when General Jackson assumed the presidency. We often hear old men allude with pride to the fact that they cast their first vote for President Harrison in 1840, yet at this time Mrs. Tintle had passed the half century mark, and she had traversed the allotted span of three score years and ten when our civil war broke out. In her life she has seen more of wonderful things in the way of science and progress than all the people who lived before her. She had reached the state of motherhood before railways and steamships were known, and was a grandmother before the electric telegraph was invented. It may be truly said that the wonders of the world have been evolved since she became a woman of mature years. Among the guests to do her honor on this centennial occasions was her grand-niece, Mrs. Abram Rapp, of Jersey City Heights, a lady who numbers great grand-children among her descendants, showing that Mrs. Tintle has lived to see six generations of her family.
The venerable dame has long looked forward to this momentous day. Of a devout Christian spirit, she has often expressed her readiness to depart whenever the Master should call her, but she has hoped that she might live to see this Centennial day for the gratification of her children, because they seemed so earnestly to desire it. As if to make her happiness complete a beautiful day was vouchsafed to her.
Mrs. Robert Richards, of this place, who is a grand-niece of Mrs. Tintle, felt hardly able to make the long trip over rough roads at this season of the year, but Mr. Richards and their daughter, Miss Jessie Richards, in company with Mrs. Rapp, made a journey to the old homestead yesterday to congratulate their venerable kinswoman, and the representative of the Era was glad of the privilege to e present on this remarkable occasion.
The old lady whose centennial had dawned so beautifully was found seated in a cozy arm chair, before a pleasant fire, and looked wonderfully well preserved, despite her early life of toil and the rigors of a hundred winters. Her home is that of her eldest son, Cornelius Tintle, himself an old man, having entered upon his seventieth year, and who is making the lengthened twilight of her life as pleasant and comfortable as possible. The face of the aged dame is not seasoned, but full, and her voice is remarkably strong and clear. Indeed she speaks louder and with more vigor than most people of sixty would. In fact, she is still in excellent health and spirits and bids fair to live for some time to come.
She walks about the house at will, her appetite is good, and her sleep is sound and restful. Her hearing has been impaired a little and her eyes are somewhat dim, but neither to such an extent as to cause embarrassment. The most remarkable feature about her, however, is the wonderful preservation of her mental faculties. Her mind is as clear as a bell, and ready to grasp anything on the instant. One of her relatives whom she has not seen for a score of years and only to suggest instances and names, when she would pick them up instantly and add facts to indicate the wonderful grasp her memory has upon the things of the past. Although her descendants have increased to a numerous company she knows them all and is still greatly interested in their welfare. As to the exactness of her age there is no possible reason for doubt, it being perfectly authenticated by complete family records. While eliciting the facts of her life we tried in the course of the conversation to test the accuracy of her memory, by questioning her regarding incidents and dates, and in every instance found the answers accurate to a year. And in every instance the answers to questions which tried the accuracy of her mind were given without a moments hesitation.
Mrs. Tintle and her descendants represent five living generations. Nine children were born to her and her husband - seven sons and two daughters - and of these five sons and two daughters are still living. All of these children, with the exception of two, live in her immediate neighborhood, where she can have the pleasure of seeing them frequently. The two exceptions - Thomas and Mary - reside at Preakness. The list of her living descendants are as follows; Cornelius, who has six children and fourteen grandchildren; Levi, who has two children and two grandchildren; Jacob, who has five children and two grandchildren; James, who has nine children and two grandchildren; Thomas, who has four children and five grandchildren; Elizabeth Gormley, who has nine children and eighteen grandchildren; and Mary, (whose husband's name we have omitted to get) who has two children and two grandchildren. There are also four great great grandchildren. Thus, not counting those who have married into the family, there are eighty-five persons living who count themselves as her lineal descendants. As all of her children, nearly all of her grandchildren and some of her great-grandchildren are married, it is probable that she is the representative head of a family of nearly one hundred and fifty people.
Her life has been a quiet and uneventful one, but she related it to us in a clear and pleasing manner. She told us how John Jacob Faesch first located in the iron business in Morris county, working the mines at Mt Hope and forges at Boonton. During the Revolutionary war she says that Faesch sent over to Germany for a number of expert iron workers and that her father was one of those who came over in this party. He did not serve in the war of the Revolution, but was employed in the iron works at Ramapo, where the subject of this sketch was born. When she spoke of Ranapo the old lady said, "I suppose they call it Ramapo now, but they have got to changing names so in these days I do not know." Her father, whose name was John Witte, married Elizabeth Sip, who also emigrated from Germany, and she is thus of pure German descent, or "High Dutch" as she called it, by which name Germans used to be spoken of, to distinguish them from the Hollanders. When Mrs. Tintle was but four years of age her parents came to the vicinity where she now lives and built a log house. She said that the very few families who then inhabited that vicinity all lived in log houses, but afterward they began to build stone houses and then frame houses. Several good specimens of these stone houses are still to be seen on the road between Brook Valley and Butler. They had a numerous family, consisting of seven sons and two daughters. The father died at the age of 74 and the mother was 80 years old at her death.
Eleanor Witte, the daughter of this couple of German pioneers was born February 6, 1790. In her 24th year she married Charles Tintle, who was her senior by two years. After a pleasant union which extended over the remarkable period of 64 years, he died in March, 1878, having attained to within one month of 90 years of age. Mrs. Tintle has in her possession an old family bible printed in German, giving many interesting facts pertaining to her family. Both she and her husband became members a little over seventy years ago of the Baptist Church at Bloomingdale, which was the first church built there. It had no regular stationed preacher at this time, but services were held there whenever a preacher came along.
Speaking of the olden times the aged lady's face brightened as she told of how they had to live when she was young and of their hardships. "In those days," she said, "we raised our own flax, cleaned the flax, raised the sheep, spun the wool, made our linen, wove our cloth, and made our clothes. Why, the women then had to work like horses and the men too had to work a good deal harder than they do now. The women had to work night and day." She laughed cheerily when she was asked if she remembered when slaves were owned in this state, as if it was a matter to be doubted, and said she remembered many of them.
Her long life of piety has made Mrs. Tintle very gentle, resigned to the infirmities of old age, and of a truly lovable disposition. From some of the guests she parted with words of Christian admonition and advice, and to one of them she recited these lines from an old fashioned hymn:
"I'm on the way to that blessed day
When God shall call my soul away."
Although Mrs. Tintle had looked forward to this memorable day with great anticipations, and had talked much about it, there was no attempt at any great special demonstration, for fear that it would unduly excite her and cause illness, so her kindred from far and near dropped in such times as suited their convenience, conversed with her a little time, and went away, some of them leaving pretty gifts as memorials of the extraordinary occasion. For each and all she had smiles and pleasant words, and all who called will doubtless always retain a lasting impression of the memorable visit.
Mr. Louis DeLemos, the Butler photographer, was present with his camera, and took a good picture of the venerable lady, which will doubtless be of great value to her numerous relatives. He also made a group picture of the members of the family present.
Notes: Alas, I was unable to find any of the pictures mentioned in this account in my dad’s files. I did however find this, original, book The Tintle Family 1765-1968:
and many, original, letters between Vera Joyce Nelson and Vincent Struble, handwritten notes, and veterans documents from the National Archives and Records Service in Washington DC.
I would be very happy to send any or all of these documents to the nearest family member or other interested party. Feel free to contact me using the contact form at right.