OBIT of DELINA FILKINS
Town of Stark
Herkimer County, New York
The obit of Stark's venerable Delina Filkins was graciously contributed
by Town of Stark Editor Ron Smith and prepared by Town of Stark Coordinator Carol Perry!
DEATH CLOSES LONG LIFE OF DELINA FILKINS
May 4, 1815 - December 4, 1928
THE VENERABLE LADY PASSES AWAY IN RICHFIELD SPRINGS
End came at 4 o'clock this morning - passed 113th birthday last May - resided
near Jordanville until about two months ago- Had been ailing for some time, but
confined to bed only three days - epitome of the great historical events
encompassed within her span of life.
Herkimer county's grand old lady Mrs. Delia "Grandma" Filkins passed away at the
home of her grandson, Berton Filkins, at Richfield Springs at 4 o'clock this
morning; after having lived more than 113 years all of which was spent in this
county with the exception of the past two months, during which time she had
resided with the grandson at whose home she died.
Her demise was due to the infirmities of age, she having been indisposed for
sometime past, altho refusing to take to her bed until three days ago. She
continued to sit in her rocking chair beside the fire until forced to lie down.
"Grandma" Filkins enjoying the distinction of being the Empire state's oldest
woman, if not the oldest in the entire nation. She bore her 113 summers upon her
vigorously until a short time ago. When she began to feel less strong than usual
and altho she never complained of illness, her family could see that she was, at
least, nearing the end of her earthly journey.
This morning, while the darkness of coming winter hovered over the village, her
soul left its mortal habitation.
Sketch of her Life
Delina Ecker Filkins was born May 4th, 1815, in the town of Stark and spent all
her life until about two months ago, within a radius of 10 miles. Her father,
William Ecker, lived to reach the age of 97 before he died, while her mother was
78. Her ancestors were of the staunch old Mohawk Dutch colonial stock, early
settlers in the town of Stark, hardy pioneers who with their bare hands wrested
from the virgin forest a home, then farm acreage and finally a tiny frontier
settlement on the upper reaches of the Otsquago creek.
The Ecker farm had been carved out of the vast wilderness during those stirring
days of the French and Indian war by "Grandma's" grandparents, who had come from
Holland and settled first in the Hudson Valley under a patent granted by the
Patroons, then controllers of the Dutch colony of New (unclear) Dutch power in
the colony and its resulting capture by the British, her grandparents immigrated
to the vicinity of Jordanville where they resided for many years. Here the home
in which she was born was built in the edge of the forest, and her father
constructed one of the first frame barns in this part of the state. The rough
hewn, sturdy building was frequently used as a church, where the settlers of that
neighborhood gathered on Sundays to worship their Creator.
"Grandma" Filkins attended the community school under one of those old-fashioned
schoolmasters who believed that to spare the rod spoiled the child and it was
there she learned the three well-known Rs. She left school at the age of 11,
however, and went to work at home - girls used to be home-girls in those
days - spinning flax raised on the Stark hillsides. This, when it had been
transformed into homespun yarn, was woven into the durable clothing worn by the
Delina Ecker was one of the belles of the town of Stark and many the young swain
who sought her favors at the dances and other homely frolics of those days.
However, John Filkins was destined to gain first place in her esteem and it was
he who, when she was 19 years of age, made her his wife, John was the son of a
neighboring farmer and took his bride to the "old place" in Stark, as she has
frequently referred to it, where she resided for 89 years. On her wedding day in
1834, she planted a rose bush in the yard of her home and this bush still
blossoms every June. It was always "Grandma's delight to pluck from there a
beautiful rose each year, reminding her of the wonderful days she and her young
husband spent (illegible)."
For over 39 years after her marriage she and her husband made cheese at their
home, supply neighbors with that delectable eatable. Then came cheese factories,
and the Filkinses took their products to the factory for manufacturing. But Mrs.
Filkins lived to see the passing of these factories in the section in which she
Six children were born of the union, two of whom are still living. They are Frank
who resides near Jordanville, 72 years of age and Alonzo 86, of Richfield
Springs. The oldest of the six children had he lived would have been 92. That was
Joseph who died in infancy.