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!


May 4, 1815 - December 4, 1928


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 pioneers.

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 lives.

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.

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Created 4/26/02
Copyright © 2002 Ron Smith/ Carol Perry
All Rights Reserved.