John Oliver Wait (1787-1876) of Perth Amboy

The Independent Hour, Woodbridge, NJ, Thursday, Dec 7, 1876

I stumbled on an obituary recently for my fourth great-grandfather, John O. Wait of Perth Amboy, NJ. It was in the 7 December 1876 issue of The Independent Hour (Woodbridge, Middlesex Co., NJ).

A carpenter, and later a baker, by trade, John lived to the very ripe old age of 89, outliving his wife Elizabeth Crow by 22 years, and his daughter (my 3rd-great-grandmother Margaret Wait) by nearly 25 years. At the time of his death, he was one of the oldest, if not the oldest, citizens in the town.

The obit is short and sweet but provides me with some new details:

  • He was “an undertaker for a number of years”, which makes perfect sense—I’m sure he was called on to make plenty of coffins anyway.
  • He died “at the residence of his son, James T. Wait” (b. 1824).
  • He was “an amiable and straightforward man, and filled many offices of trust and importance in the city.” While I’d known he was someone who’d had his fingers in many pies (sometimes, perhaps, quite literally!), it was pleasant to read those characteristics nonetheless. For a past post on John, click here.
  • “The funeral services were held in the Baptist Church, after which the remains were taken to the cemetery for internment.” This surprised me, since I’d have thought that any funeral would have taken place at the Presbyterian Church where his father had been a founding member.

baptist_church I can think of a few others in my/our family tree who made it to such a ripe old age, or even farther: Isaac Jaques (1791-1880); Captain Richard Brodhead (1666-1758); Andrew Jackson Brodhead (1822-1913); Daniel Westbrook Dingman (1774-1862); and there may be others. But as the blog I’ve linked to below points out, the average age back then, which was in the forties, was just that—an average. Many attained old age, and they did it without all the healthcare advantages we have today.

Well, that’s the morsel I am sharing today. Have a good weekend.

Resources:
Other blog posts on the Wait family: See: Post 1, Post 2, Post 3, Post 4, Post 5 and Post 6
Passion for the Past – Blog: Post on 19th century Mourning Practices; Post on The Average Life Expectancy Myth

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Categories: Perth Amboy, Wait | Tags: | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “John Oliver Wait (1787-1876) of Perth Amboy

  1. I’ve also noticed that I have some ancestors who lived into their late 80’s and even into their 90s. The high infant death rate years ago must have been at least part of the reason that the average age was so low back then.

    • Yes, that is definitely true. In looking at a 2nd-great-grandmother’s 1877 death record (one where they list people). Of the 22 people listed on the page with her, 12 died before age 4. Seven of the 12 died before age 2. The two oldest people were 54 and 78. (My 2nd-great-grandmother was 48; she died of stomach cancer.)

  2. These little tidbits like “amiable and straightforward man” mean so much so many generations later.

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