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Aunty Malinda Clemons

Updated: Feb 19

(Article c.1907)

100 YEARS OLD DECEMBER 30 Aunty Clemens Will Soon be a Centenarian. RECORDS SAID TO GIVE HER AGE. Her Family Does Not Credit the Story that She is 107 Years Old – She Came Here in 1826 and Cooked in Many of the Famous Old Hotels According to papers, which the family claims are authentic, "Old Aunty Clemens" will be 100 years old December 30. Members of the family say that there may be some miscalculation but they believe this is her correct age. In recent years, some people have tried to make out that she is 107 years old, but her children do not have much faith in this calculation. With her son, Joseph, and her daughter, Mrs. Caroline Robinson, taking care of her, Aunty Clemens is living for the present at the latter's home 34 North Mill street. Up until two weeks ago, when she contracted a severe cold, her health has been excellent. Since then, her mind and body have been enfeebled. Monday morning, she was much better and talked to a reporter for The Independent who called at her daughter's house. Aunty Clemens is said to be the oldest colored woman in Stark county and one of the oldest in the state. Age and hard work have bent her body and weakened her frame, but she is still active and can walk about unassisted. She cooked for years in some of Massillon's oldest hotels and the memories of some of her meals still cling in the minds of the older residents. During the time she worked here she raised thirteen children, two of whom now survive. Aunty Clements was born in Brooke County, W. Va. Her mother was a free woman, but her father a slave. Her mother died when she was a little girl and she went to work for a family by the name of Chambers. There she remained until eighteen years old. When she was 19 years of age, she came to Massillon. The present city scarcely existed then. The canal was the artery of commerce that kept the little village alive. Stage coaches ran through to the canal from Canton. It was very natural then that when Aunty Clemens got out of the coach upon that spring morning in 1826, she should look for employment in the old Folger tavern, the stage coach station, which stood upon the corner of now occupied by the First National bank. From that time Aunty Clemons was a resident of Massillon and with the exception of short visits, she has never left it. The renown of the cooking at the Folger tavern grew as time passed. Farmers stopped at the hotel after driving to Massillon with a load of wheat from a distance of sixty miles to taste Aunty Clemens' pies. The meals she used to prepare are said by older residents to have been beyond compare nad the hotel prospered. When it finally went out of business, Aunty Clemens went to the Madison and the Bayliss hotels and that conducted by the late George Zelley. In the meantime she had married Jerry Clemens and was raising a family. In the early days of the history of the canal, the boats shipped passengers as well as large cargoes of grain. The craft were handsomer than they are at present. White paint always adorned the sides, while the cabins were comfortably furnished for the passengers. Aunty Clemens tells of how the boatmen blew horns when nearing town. Then followed a general scramble fo the dock. Prospective passengers with carpet bags, would rush out to the tavern and down to the canal side ready to go on board as soon as the boat touched. After the craft swung out into the stream again and was moving slowly away, the loiterers would return to the tavern office to smoke and talk until the next boat arrived. Aunty Clemens was a resident of Kendal during the first few years she lived here. Her home was in State street, near the old Quaker meeting house. She told this morning of how the pigs used to stroll about the now downtown streets while many of the lots were grown up with hazel bushes. The ground upon which she now lives was covered with a heavy growth of bushes, through which residents had tramped a path to the canal. The stage line ran from Steubenville to Canton and from Canton to Massillon. The only houses on East Main street in 1826 were the Bayliss residence, which stood at the corner of Main and Prospect streets, recently moved to South Prospect street, the old James Duncan property on the northeast corner of Main and Hill streets and a house occupied by the Hoban family farther out on Main street. Aunty Clemens was one of a family of five. She had three sisters and one brother. Beside her children she has seven grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.



Well Known Resident; Hotel Cook for Years.


Although She Lived in Virginia Before the War She Was Born a Free Woman She Would Have Been 102 Thursday—Funeral Friday.

Within two days of her one hundred and second birthday anniversary, Mrs. Malinda Clemons, widow of the late Jeremiah Clemons and familiarly known to a wide circle friends, young and old as “Aunty Clemons,” died Tuesday evening at her home. 36 North Mill street, where for years she has lived with her son. Joseph Clemons. The cause was old age and the end came so quietly that a granddaughter who sat at the bedside was unaware of what had happened until an attempt was made to talk to her grandmother. She was active physically and mentally until the last.

The funeral will take place Friday afternoon at 2 o’clock at the AME Zion Church. The Rev. ET Fleming of Sharon, formerly of this city, an old friend of the family, has been sent for and will probably officiate.

Besides her son Joseph, a daughter, Mrs. Caroline Robinson, of 34 North Mill Street, together with seven grandchildren and nine great grandchildren survive.

Although her early years were spent in Virginia, Aunty Clemons was never a slave. Her mother was a free woman. At the age of 19 years old she followed her future husband to this city from Hancock County, Virginia, and upon arriving here took a position as cook in Folger’s hotel, which stood at the corner of Erie and Main Streets. When the Folgers went out of business, Aunty Clemons went to the Madison, Bayliss, and Zeilly hotels, where her renown as a pie baker grew. So did her family. It was once composed of thirteen children.

When old age overtook her Aunty Clemons gave up her position as cook and devoted her entire time to her home. She had a wide circle of friends and there are some people who retain memories of her delicious meals.


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