Hester Ford, the oldest living American who was over 115 years old, has died, her family have said.
Ms Ford, a North Carolina woman with more than 120 great-great-grandchildren, died peacefully in her home on Saturday, according to her family.
According to different census reports, Ms Ford was either 115 or 116 years old at the time of her death. The Gerontology Research Group listed her age as 115 years and 245 days.
Ms Ford was born on a farm in Lancaster County, South Carolina, in 1905 or 1904 and went on to get married at the age of 14 to John Ford.
After she gave birth to the first of her dozen children, the couple later moved to Charlotte, where she remained for the rest of her life.
Mr Ford died in 1963 at age 57, three years after the couple moved to Charlotte. Ms Ford lived the home on her own, without assistance, until the age of 108.
Her 12 children gave her 68 grandchildren, 125 great-grandchildren, and at least 120 great-great-grandchildren.
“She was a pillar and stalwart to our family and provided much needed love, support and understanding to us all,” her great-granddaughter, Tanisha Patterson-Powe, told news media.
She added: “She not only represented the advancement of our family but of the Black African American race and culture in our country. She was a reminder of how far we have come as people on this earth.”
The great-great-grandmother lived through two global pandemics in her lifetimes. Last year she celebrated her birthday amid the coronavirus outbreak, having also experienced the influenza pandemic in 1918.
Ms Ford lived in her Charlotte home with her family until her death.
"She never complained, never showed defeat or entertained a pity-party," Ms Patterson-Powe told CNN.
"She never ‘fit into a one size fit all box’ as she was a master inventor and innovator -- a trailblazer setting her own trends within the community and her home," she said.
Following Ms Ford’s death, Thelma Sutcliffe of Nebraska, born in 1906, became the oldest living American at 114-years-old, according to the Gerontology Research Group.
The world’s oldest person is Kane Tanaka of Japan at 118 years old, the group says.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies