Biography of Larissa SHAILER

[original article courtesy of Don Smith]


MIDDLETOWN TRIBUNE, Saturday, September 22, 1900.



Miss Larissa Shailer Yesterday

Was 100 Years Old


Many Called to Congratulate

She Has Outlived All her Immediate Relatives, But is Tenderly Cared for at the Home of B. H. Annis - She Bids Fair to Live for Many Years Yet.

          In these days of bustle and nervous excitement it is a rarity that one lives to see the completion of many years beyond the allotted three score years and ten. Now and then one is found who has rounded out another score and rarer yet is it that one reaches the century mark. Such yesterday was the good fortune of Miss Larissa Shailer of Tylerville, "Aunt" Larissa as she is familiarly called by everyone in Tylerville. Fancy a little woman, dressed in black, with a black lace cap; her eyes bright and dark, and clear of vision to match; her hearing unimpaired, every faculty undiminished in skill; in fact looking as she were only 70, and you see "Aunt" Larissa as she looked yesterday afternoon, when from 2 to 5 she received the congratulations of her friends.

          She has the record of being the oldest spinster in this state, and probably in New England. She was born in Haddam, Sept 21, 1800, and is a descendant of James Wells, one of the original 28 proprietors of the town of Haddam.

          Nearly the whole of her life has been spent within a few rods of her present home. When a young girl under 20 years of age, she attended a then celebrated boarding school, taught by the Misses Patton in Hartford. After completing the course of instruction she returned to Haddam and has since resided in that town. She has seen four generations pass away, and today readily recalls the stirring events of the early part of this century.

          In 1823 she united with the Haddam Congregational church on profession of faith, and has been for several years the oldest member of that church. The last of her immediate family has been dead for many years, but she lived in the old house built by her family after the original homestead was burned until about seven years ago. Since then she has boarded with Mr. Annis and his family. She has never known a sick day, and never has called a doctor, or taken any medicine prescribed by a physician. Her rule for living might well be followed by all. It is as follows: "I have always been regular in my habits and have always taken as good care of myself as lay in my power. To this day I make a practice of going out into the dooryard for a walk every day, summer or winter, with my feet properly protected, and I have never taken cold. I don't remember when I had a sick day. But after all I owe my good health as much to my not worrying about anything that happened or was likely to happen. I've had my troubles as who hasn't, but I long ago learned that there was One upon whom I could lay all my troubles, and I took them to Him and I never found him to fail." Though bereft of all her own relatives she is content to stay on earth as long as God wills, and she looks forward to her eternal home with equal tranquility.

          "Aunt" Larissa is fond of reading and she is well posted on all the current topics of the day, but her Bible is her greatest delight, and she spends hours reading it.

          She received yesterday many reminders of her anniversary and a number of her friends called on her. At the "at home" given by Miss Lucinda Annis yesterday, the following guests were present: Joseph WELLS and daughter, Mrs. TILLMAN of New York, Mrs. Henry SHAILER, Mrs. WEBBER and Mrs. Davis TYLER of Deep River, the Rev. Mr. KNOWLES of Killingworth, the Rev. Mr. LEWIS, Mr. & Mrs. John ODBER, Mrs. Albert DICKENSON, Miss Kate KELSEY, Haddam; Charles HART, Boston; Mr. & Mrs. George HAVENS, Springfield; Mr. & Mrs. H. B. SISSON, Hamburg; Mrs. John ALEXANDER, Mrs. George HOPKINS, Chester; William PURPLE, Miss Florilla WHETMORE and Mr. SHAILER of Hartford, beside many others. All of the neighbors dropped in to pay their respects. The receiving hours were from 2 to 5 p.m., Miss Annis receiving.

          A lunch consisting of punch and cake was served. A large birthday cake with the figures 1900 was a feature of the lunch, which pleased Miss Shailer very much. The presents were numerous and beautiful, some of the being books, black lace and purple cap, a large pamphlet of daily readings of verses from the Scriptures, also eleven bouquets of flowers, as follows: Bunch of 100 asters, pink roses, gladiolas bouquet of roses and pinks, pinks, dahlias and tuberose, geraniums and mixed flowers. Exhibited at this time was a sampler worked by Miss Shailer's sister when a girl with the names of the seven brothers and sisters of the family.

          Among her callers were two clergymen, Mr. Knowles of Ponset and Mr. Lewis of Haddam. The latter held a religious service, at which Aunt Larissa spoke freely, giving abundant reason for the hope that was in her. About 15, including many from out of town called to pay their respects, and all were impressed with the wonderful brightness and sweetness of this aged saint.

          To very few it is granted to reach such a great age as Aunt Larissa, in possession of so many faculties. Eyesight, hearing, health seem absolutely unimpaired, while her memory is truly wonderful. She was asked if she remembered the famous September gale of 1815. She answered brightly "Oh yes! I had good reason to remember that gale, for I had a brother away from home on the water at that time, and for many days we didn't hear anything from him, and were growing very anxious, fearing that he had been cast away. But he had managed to slip into some port and turned up all right; and what a joy that was to us all."

          At the close of the day, when the last guest had departed, she was asked if she was not tired? "O, no! but hungry!" was her characteristic answer.

          All her many friends wish her many more years of unalloyed happiness, and surrounded by everything that contributes to her comfort and enjoyment there is no reason why their wishes may not be realized.

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