Centenarian Passes Away at her home in St. Joe Township Had lived on the Old Farm for Fifty Years.   Bowed beneath the weight of more than one hundred years. Mrs. Mary Rank last evening laid down the burden of life. At the little log home, in St. Joseph Township, she passed away, she who had lived in three centuries, and who had seen three generations die. At her bedside were three generations of her descendants to bid her spirit Godspeed to the other land, where all of her family and most of her generation; had gone long years ago.

For many years Mrs. Rank had lingered on the border land between this world and the next. But age was kind to her and although her eye was dim, her form bowed and her mental faculties impaired, yet she knew little of pain that is the part of most of mankind when youth departs and the frosts of age enfeeble the frame. She suffered little, but for several years past had attacks of weakness at intervals, which her relatives and attendants thought could not but result in death. But always she rallied. Always the wonderful constitution triumphed, and she would again rise from the bed of illness and bid defiance to death.

A year ago early in August, while walking about the garden, she was overcome by vertigo, probably due to the heat, and fell, striking her head and inflicting an injury that confined her to bed for several weeks. Her physician then expected that she could not recover, but recover she did, and on August 29 celebrated her one hundredth birthday anniversary. Had she lived until next Thursday she would have been 101 years of age, and her children and descendants had been hoping that she would survive to celebrate the day with them.

But of late age had more and more enfeebled her and the once strong body at length yielded. She grew weaker and weaker, and the end came at 7 o’clock Sunday evening.

In the humble little home that the toiling hands of her husband and herself reared half a century ago this wonderful woman passed from life. Some of her children, on leaving the old homestead, enjoyed more pretentious dwellings and gladly would have had the mother live with them, but she clung fondly to the rude structure of logs that she and her loved partner had built amid the forest trees when Indiana was but little more than a wilderness. There her husband and she had shared their joys and sorrows in the rude pioneer days. Within the rough walls her children had been born and from its doors they had gone forth into the world, some to return no more. There beneath the clapboard roof were pictured the fondest, sweetest memories of half a century, and there she willed to live her life away, to sit beneath the shade of the old forest trees that she had known as saplings and that had grown to echo, the youthful voices that now echo only in the halls of memory. She wished to die peacefully in the old home, and last night the Creator to whom time is not, to whom centuries are as moments, called her to him.


Mrs. Mary Rank was born on Bamby Common, between York and Pucklington, Yorkshire, England, August 29, 1800. This much she herself remembered when she reached the century mark, and from her daughter, Miss Tamer, and her granddaughter, Mrs. Michael Wambach, the rest of her story was gleaned. Her maiden name was Newsome. She was married to James Rank on November 26, 1826. Thirteen children were born to them, of whom ten lived to maturity. In 1844 she came with her husband and children to America, and for seven years they lived in New York State. In 1851 they came to Allen County and settled on the farm where she lived to her death. The log cabin that served as their domicile was built by Mr. Rank in a clearing in the woods. He cleared off the rest of the land, and here they lived the life of the pioneer and raised their children. Ten of them latter were born in England and three in this country. The husband

and most of the children preceded the wife and mother to the grave. James and William were sailors. The former died at sea and the latter bade his mother good-bye one day and sailed from port, strong in the flush of young manhood, never to return. His ship was never heard of again. The eldest child, Anna, now Mrs. Broom, who was born in 1827, lives in Kansas. Newsome was born in 1828 and lives in Nebraska. Eli now 72 lives in Fort Wayne. George, now living in Michigan, was born in 1834: Ezra in 1844, Joab in 1846, Richard in 1835. Two sons named Christopher and a daughter Mary are dead. Miss Tamer, the youngest of the children, lived with her mother, having devoted her whole life to the care of her parents. Her father died in 1877, after having been an invalid for 25 years. For 20 years Miss Tamer has never been away from home more than a few days at a time, and her visits then were few and far between. She has cared for her father and mother and assisted brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces in bringing up their children. She has lived a busy life albeit her years have been spent in the quiet little home in the shadows of the forest threes.

The grandchildren are Mrs. Michael Wambach, of this city, who has three daughters, who called Mary Rank great-grandmother; George Rank who has three children; Mrs. Maggie Stoddard, of Michigan, who has two children: Mrs. Irene Laisure, of Fort Wayne, who has one child: Mrs. Ida Castel of Nebraska, who has one child; Mrs. Anna Payne, of Fort Wayne, who is the mother of two children. Newsome Broom, of Nebraska, who has two children. James Broom, of Kansas, who also has two children who called the centenarian Great-grandmother.


When Mrs. Rank and her husband came to Allen County, the country was but thinly settled, and neighbors were far and far between. They bought land in St. Joseph Township about six miles north of the city. Here in a clearing in the woods they built their home of logs and Mrs. Rank had never lived elsewhere since that time. Like all pioneer women she had not an easy life. She shared all the hardships and difficulties incident to frontier life, and assisted her husband in the work of the farm.

She was greatly beloved by the early settlers, as well as by those who came after them and even a generation ago the name of “Mother” Rank was spoken with gratitude, for she loved to follow the golden rule, and although her life was never blessed by prosperity, yet always she was willing to aid others less fortunate than herself. She became a member of a church at a very early age and all her long life she lived up to the precepts instilled into her mind by pious parents and earnest Christian preceptors. Her deep Christian spirit became manifest after she came to Indiana. There were no churches in the vicinity in those days and in the hardships of pioneer life, and the lack of spiritual solace, there was not much to keep alive the fires of religion in the lowly cabins of the settlers. But her faith never wavered, and it is still told by very old people how Mother Rank used to gather round her those who preserved the truths of Christianity they had been taught, and it is still remembered that on many an occasion she would lead in the simple prayer meetings she would herself organize. Now and then an itinerant protestant minister came that way, but when none came Mrs. Rank would read the Bible, pray and exhort those about her, and an old settler informed the writer last year that she could “preach most as good as a preacher.” In later years when churches reared their spires amid the trees, she was a regular attendant and never missed services until of very recent years, when her great age forbade her leaving the house. She was of a deeply religious temperament and even in her last months of life she loved to sing verses of the beautiful old-church hymns that she loved so many many years ago in old Yorkshire.


Four of her sons were soldiers in the Union Army in the war between the state, and one of her grandsons is, or was until recently in service in the army in the Philippines


Mary Newsome was a small lass when the battles of Waterloo was fought in 1815, and she remembered the incidents of that period up to the last. For several years past her mind has been clouded but an effort to bring back the memory of her younger days usually was successful, and a suggestion would start her on a retrospective chat that was delightful for the listener. Two years ago, in talking with the writer, she told of the excitement that pervaded old Yorkshire in Napoleon’s day the anxiety while waiting for the battle that was to decide the destinies of Europe, and the final joy after Waterloo. She even remembered snatches of old songs chronicling and glorifying Wellington’s victory, and would sing them with great gusto.

Since age affected her mind she had to be watched closely. On two occasions a couple of years ago, she left home and walked to Fort Wayne, greatly frightening her relatives. The long walk apparently did not fatigue her. Of late, however, her physical weakness prevented her from wondering away.

The Rank homestead is located perhaps a quarter of a mile northeast of the Riverview stock farm, on the St. Joe Road. A narrow lane runs back from the road and leads to the house, which is sheltered behind a stretch of woods and barely visible from the road. It is a primitive log structure with a “lean to” kitchen. Mrs. Rank had the closet attention in her declining years, from her daughter, Miss Tamer, who attended her like a child. The old lady liked to assist in the household work and would insist on having some task to perform.   In summer she would walk about the garden, or sit in the shade of the orchard trees. In winter she never left the seat beside the window except to retire.


Her death was peaceful as her life had been. The venerable woman had not been ill although gradually growing weaker, and every morning found her up and about the house. Sunday morning, however she was very weak and did not rise from her bed. During the forenoon it became apparent that she could not survive much longer and Miss Tamer sent for other members of the family. Mrs. Rank did not regain strength but declined steadily and at 7 o’clock in the evening breathed her last.

The funeral arrangements will be announced tomorrow.

Microfilm Journal Gazette, Tuesday August 27, 1901 5:1

The arrangements for the funeral of Mrs. Mary Rank the centenarian who died Sunday evening, have been completed, at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow services will be held in the late residence of the deceased on the St. Joe Road, at 2 p.m. services will be held at St. Joseph’s Chapel. The interment will be in Parker Cemetery, near the St. Joe Road. The Rev. H. J. Norris, of the Berry St. Methodist Episcopal church, assisted by the Rev. Mr. Real will have charge of the services.