For Christmas 2013, I bought my son a book for Christmas –

Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big  I love the first lines of the book, “From a long line of liars, there’s none higher upper… Than my fibbing big brother, the Edwurd Fudwupper.”  In your digital research,  you may find a few Fudwuppers in your research.

Orsamus Page fibbed big.

While researching for my friend’s family tree,  I found his name, I was delighted.  A name like Orsamus  is genealogical gold baby!  I was able to find him easily on census records, and identify his children.  He was too old to have had a mandatory social security number.   Then, I found him, recorded as the oldest newsboy in America.

Orsamus was a salesperson. He knew that interesting stories sell papers, and as a Newsboy, it was his job to sell as many newspapers as possible at the train depot in Joilet, Illinois.  I believe he created an interesting story to sell more papers.  Maybe it was a slow news week and a reporter wanted a personal interest piece.  The late 19th century was long before the digital information age to Google him, or easily check sources. Maybe, it was just a misprint.

Orsamus’s recorded birth dates are sporadic. Maybe, every census record is wrong. Maybe, he forgot what year he was born and used his father’s birth year instead.  I just don’t believe it though. He had one leg and worked the train depot in Joilet, Illinois. His name was Orsamus. Census records align for other places he lived, and his occupation. His daughters had the same names.  It’s important to document and attach sources to your genealogical research to support your hunches.  You should question the information you find …and everything you read.

One reporter’s story about an old newsboy was reported nationally in several papers.  It was revisited, revised and reprinted across America from Boston to Los Angeles. It was reported as truth in printed newspapers 50 years after Orsamus Page died.

I think Orsamus wanted to have an angle, and notoriety. If you claim to be 100, no one will believe you, but 103?  Why would someone lie about that? (He aged his wife a bit too.)  Honestly, he wouldn’t be the first person to lie, and on a sliding scale of falsehood it’s generally overlooked.

People lie about their age… a lot.  When they are younger, people want to be older to drive cars,  drink alcohol or gamble or vote. ( Okay, maybe I was the only 18 year old excited to register to vote. )

Some women I know turn 29 or 39 every year. If I were to lie about my age, I would claim to be older.  My friend TJ’s mother claims to be a decade older than she is so people compliment her constantly about her youthful appearance. She’s 56, but claims to be 66, so people lavish her with praise.  I spend part of my mornings slathering my face with 70 spf  in an attempt to combat future age spots and wrinkles. I’m 38, (real number) so I am sure it will be another decade or two before I see if spf made a difference, but I am hoping it will.

Orsamus Page, you may have fibbed big about your age.  I doubt you died at 106…. but then again, I could be wrong.  Maybe, it was really 112.

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