finding your roots

the case of Bevil Waters: married agian at nearly ninety

garth tuttle June 26, 2012

For a long time, I was frustrated by otherwise well informed persons who repeatedly mistake the average age of death with life expectancy – who expects to die at infancy ? The truth is, most people expect to live as long as their ancestors and other realtives – often, in my case , into the late nineties and even over a hundred – We are not, in fact, living longer than our ancestors, we are servivng long enough to rerach old age more – and that is quite a different story !
Take, for example, my ancestor Bevil Waters : he was said to be over ninety when he remarried; he lived on for at least seven years – and, though he was my oldest known ancestor, he lived at during the colonial persiod of American history. I have two great grandparents who were ninety five, one ninety, another 88 & 11 months exactly, as well as many others in their late sixties, seventies and eighties ; two were hit and run victims, but both close to sixty (one in her alte fifties, the other in his mid sixties ) ; nor is this patern unique to my family – far from it.
Longevity is easy to achieve: even many who died of cancer – sad as it is – were already old ; averages should never be confused with facts – there are too many misleading statistics , too many variables – and even, sometimes, hidden ‘surprises ‘ – facts recorsded where few might search for them …

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The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Filmed on location across the United States, the series premieres nationally Sundays, March 25 – May 20 at 8 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).

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