Saturday, July 18, 2015

White Hair Turning Black & Sleeping 60 Hours Straight: Things a 100(+) Year Old Might Do

This week I had a breakthrough on my Snavely ancestors. I knew my 4x great grandfather, Jacob Coppenbarger (1769-1841) married Catherine Ann Snavely. But, Catherine Ann was the only Snavely I had found.

My great aunt's files had Catherine Ann's father as "John Snavely" and said in the notes: His Will, proved 14 Mar 1826 in Smyth Co, VA (signed with a mark X). A lot of the info on his data and children was taken from his Will. Book 3: 186-187.

Though I thought my great aunt was probably correct, I'd never seen a copy of the will. And, Smyth county didn't form until 1832. It formed from Wythe & Washington Counties and I knew this family lived in Wythe at some point. When I looked at the FHL microfilms, I saw that Wythe County Will "Book 3" would include 1826, so it was likely this was where John Snavely's will would be found.

I received the microfilm and was able to go to the library earlier this week. I found John's will! And, it is certainly evidence that John Snavely was my Catherine Ann Snavely's father. Among other children it listed "C--t--- [hard to read] Jacob Kappenbergers [sic] wife..."

Catharine Ann Snavely's sister, Mary (Snavely) Crow at age 62 in the 1850 census
1850; Census Place: District 60, Smyth, Virginia; Roll: M432_976; Page: 220B; Image: 442
accessed at
Besides Catherine, I was able to find out about the other children of Jacob. As I entered them into Ancestry, various "hints" popped up and I was able to piece together more of this Snavely family.

One exciting find was that one of Catherine Ann's sisters, Mary, lived to be 100 years old! And, I found a newspaper article written about her just weeks before she died.

Stauton Spectator, Stauton, Pennsylvania, 08 Dec 1886, page 3 column 7; 
digital image; accessed 17 Jul 2015. 
I think the newspaper exaggerated as it said she was 110 years old, but it was a wonderful article,
I've added paragraphs to make it easier to read, but here's the article as written near the end of 1886:

A Wonderful Old Lady

Living in Southwest Virginia - at the Age of One Hundred and Ten Her Hair Growing Black

Marion, Va., November 29, 1886.

To the Editor of the Dispatch:

Probably the oldest person in Southwest Virginia lives in this county, and it is such a remarkable case I will give it to you for publication. 

Mrs. Mary Crow, widow of Thomas Crow, was born August 11, 1776; was a Miss Snavely, of German descent, and was married in 1794. She has great-great-grandchildren sixteen years old - her fourth generation. 

Her eyesight is almost perfect; can read German without glasses; cannot read English at all. 

For a number of years her hair was white as snow. Not it is getting black again. Two inches or more of the hair next [to] the scalp is now perfectly black; is growing rapidly, and black and full. 

She is quite childish now. When a stranger visits her or comes on the place she becomes very much excited; is afraid of strangers. 

Her health is good. She does not hear very well. She has a very poor memory of things that have happened recently, but will talk of things that happened fifty to ninety years ago as clearly as if they had only happened. 

A week or two since she went to bed as usual, and slept for sixty hours without waking. When she awoke she was very hungry, and ate very heartily.

In the prime of her life she weighed between 275 and 290 pounds. Now she weighs scarcely 100 pounds. 

This is certainly a remarkable case, and your correspondent knows the facts as reported true in every particular. How do you account for the changing of the gray hair now growing out black? Can't some of your scientific correspondents answer?

Yours, &c.,                                                Southwest.

Interestingly, I did some research about white or gray hair returning to black and found several examples. Too bad there aren't any photos!

But, I was thrilled to find this article about Catherine Ann Snavely's sister. Mary (Snavely) Crow died only a few weeks after this article was published. Unfortunately, at this time, I have not been able to find a death notice or obituary for her. 


  1. Dana,
    Fantastic Information you have found.. Would you mind if i copy it? You really have found some great information for the Snavely's.. Can't wait to find more..

  2. That is really very interesting. A fascinating find!

  3. It's wonderful that you found the will and all the additional information. But the newspaper article is the best!

  4. Superb. you have really addressed the matter properly.
    Hair fall in Bangalore


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