I was going through the Social Security Death Index the other day looking for a friend. As I often do, I searched names that came to me randomly. I was sorry to see that Virginia (Burke) Fields passed away. Virginia was my Grandmother, Anna (Jackson) Shellabarger’s first cousin and she was the last of that generation in the Jones family.
I met Virgina through letters. Around 1990, I found her address and wrote her. We exchanged several letters over a couple of years and then she stopped writing. I assumed that her health was poor. She was in her 90s afterall.
Imagine my surprise when I found out in 2004, when I found she was still alive! Her sister, Madeline (Burke) Caughell had passed away at the age 101 and Virginia was listed as one of the survivors in her obituary.
Virginia was born in June of 1906. Her Mother was very pregnant with her when the earthquake struck San Francisco in April of that year. It’s amazing that her Mother survived since her husband was killed during the earthquake. Under these circumstances, it is a miracle that the baby survived too.
Virginia married Walter Fields ca. 1930. He was the son of Ambrose Fields and Elizabeth Swearingen. Virginia and Walter didn’t have any children. Walter died in 1962 and the age of 60.
I’ve written before about the longevity of the Jones Women. Unlike my other lines, the Jones women, if they survived childbirth lived well into their 80s. Virginia’s Mother, Gertrude, survived all that tragedy. She died in 1967 at the age of 65. The Jones Women Longevity Gene was passed down to all her daughters. Madeline died in 2006 at the age of 106, Genevieve died at the age of 101 in 2004, Claire died at the age of 82 in 1987. And, now Virginia has died at the “young” age of 104. How many families can boast three centarians?
I would have loved to have met Virginia, or at least, had a photograph of her to add to my collection. I am glad that we were able to exchange the letters that we did. She was the only elderly member of the my Grandmother’s generation outside of my Grandmother and her Sister that I was able to locate.
This is Virginia’s Obituary from the San Francisco Chronicle, 21 July 2010. It doesn’t see to say enough for a woman who lived over a century.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com