Friday, January 19, 2018

Great Uncle Jack Lived to 102 ~ 52 Ancestors #3

I am participating in this year's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Each week has an optional writing prompt and this week's writing prompt is Longevity.

In the early 1990s, when I was just starting out in researching my family history, I learned that my mother's great uncle Jack Hunter died in 1984 at 102 years old. He was the sixth of ten children of James Hunter and Mary Freeland Hunter, both of whom died in 1902.

He was written up in the Pittsburgh Press for his 100th birthday.

100 Today, He's Moving Right Along
By Jean Bryant
  Jack R. Hunter is celebrating 100 years of living today.
  He was born Jan. 24, 1882, on Irwin Avenue in Old Allegheny (now part of Brighton Road, North Side), and he's outlived countless friends, relatives and institutions he had been associated with.
  However, one company he once worked for still exists - the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. Hunter was office manager for the Pittsburgh office 50 years until his retirement in 1957.
  Dapper, in a brown suit and a red and blue striped tie, he gets around nimbly with a cane. His bright blue eyes are framed with silver-rimmed glasses. A shock of silver-white hair falls in a deliberate wave, giving him a bit of dash.
  "I feel fine," he said, sitting in his living room at the King Edward Apartments in Oakland.
  "I was the first tenant to sign a lease when the building was going up," he said.
  Hunter has vivid recollections of his past and remembers the times and dates as though they all happened yesterday.
  "Allegheny," he said, "is what they call the North Side now It was a separate city until 1908. It was a better place then. Now it's the tail end of Pittsburgh."
  Hunter left high school in 1902 to take a job with the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railroad copying "waybills." Both his parents had died and he took on some of the responsibility of helping his six brothers and two sisters.
  "They're all gone except me," Hunter said.
  After a year, he left the railroad to work in a new bank, the Real Estate Savings and Trust Co., which became the North Side Bank. It went under in the Great Depression.
  In 1907, Hunter took a job with the John Hancock.
  But he got the "wanderlust," he said, and left for the excitement of a mining camp in Goldfield, Nev., where he got a job with John S. Cook & Co., a bank.
  "The mining camp was a rough place," Hunter said. "It had a population of 20,000 people. There were 120 saloons and only two churches, as I recall."
  Killings took place regularly, Hunter said.
  Shortly after Hunter arrived in Goldfield, several great financial houses closed and panic took hold across the country.
  It caused a "big run on money" at the camp, Hunter said.
  But his bank quickly displayed $700,000 in gold to quell the fears of its customers, Hunter said. A bevy of rifle-toting men guarded the bank so tightly no one dared try to steal the gold.
  "The economy was in terrible shape then," Hunter said.
  He left Goldfield and returned to his old job at John Hancock. Later, he was to witness another depression - the Great One.
  "I remember the banks closed; many never reopened," he said.
  But Hunter doesn't expect to see the likes of that economic plunge again. And he's optimistic in spite of the current economic picture, which has soothsayers forecasting the worst plunge of all is yet to come.
  "There's no evidence of anything like that coming as far as I can see," said Hunter.
  He said he feels his opinions are valid even though he is "out of circulation."
  Hunter's pride and joy is his collection of lithographs by Russian-born artist Nicolai Fechin. Hunter helped Fechin immigrate in 1923, a time when America did not recognize the artist's native land. Fechin died 20 years ago.
  Hunter still subscribes to the Wall Street Journal "as did my father before me." He busies himself reading the many political, scientific and arts magazines to which he subscribes.
  "I get about 125 pieces of mail a week," he said.
  But Hunter's observation about some of the daily mail he gets is a good indication that in 100 years some things have changed very little.
  "I get a lot of mail from politicians...they all want money."
Source citation: Jean Bryant, "100 Today, He's Moving Right Along," The Pittsburgh Press 24 January 1982, digital image ( : accessed 15 January 2018), page 15, column 1. [Though I should note that I do have an original print copy of this article.]


Jack R. Hunter died on August 28, 1984, at 102 years and 7 months. I visited his grave when I was in Pittsburgh at the end of last summer.

His FindAGrave memorial can be seen here.

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