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Local History

Edward Rickman

“District Social Security workers gave a party to Edward G. Rickman on the occasion of his turning 100 years old. He was a former cowpuncher, hostler, student, minister, cook, and traveler…Rickman was born at Gallatin, Tennessee on June 3 of either 1863 or 1864.  His fourth wife died November 23, 1963, and a married daughter, Mrs. Thelma Parker, now lives with him, although he plans to reside by himself in the future.

“A highly articulate person, he enjoys watching television without glasses. He claims his only health problem is ‘the usual infirmities of old age,’ but they are not evident to the onlooker.

“Rickman told a Social Security interviewer, Tom Huffman, that he had 'a call of the wild' and 'walked off from his parents' when quite young. He walked to Scranton, Pa., and recalls that ‘it got warm, then cold' on the trip.

“He said a woman took him in for the winter, then a German woman 'caught me by the hand and led me down the street' in Scranton. He was 'adopted' by her family and stayed several years.

“When about 12 or 13, he said, he again took off and started west hitchhiking with wagon trains. People were more friendly in those days, he said. He was adopted by a doctor’s family in Rossville, Kan., near Topeka, and began his schooling. After punching cows in the Panhandle, he went to Topeka, and served as a hostler while going to high school. He enlisted in the 5th Infantry in Arizona and served in the Arizona Indian campaigns, then heard about college.

“‘I just thought I’d go down and see what it was all about,’ he explained. He attended Wilberforce University, Xenia, Ohio, walking four miles each way to school from the farm where he worked. Later he attended a finishing school in Edinburgh, Scotland.

“He reenlisted in the Army in 1907 and served until 1916, serving in Oklahoma, Texas, Washington state, the Philippines and Hawaii. He also worked as a cook and traveled with a steamship line for two years. He claims to have been around the world at least three times.

“He ministered at churches in Ellensburg, Wash., Lamar, Colo., Des Moines, Iowa, and Emporia and Fort Scott in Kansas. He is 'emeritus associate pastor' of Benton Avenue AME church in Springfield.

“In addition to Mrs. Parker, Richman has five children, 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He said he also reared children not his own and all the children went to college, with all but one finishing school…Rickman has been receiving Social Security benefits since July, 1944. He suffered a work deduction for the month of June, 1948, for working that month on a construction job at the age of 84 or 85.

“He says the secret to his longevity is ‘living as closely to nature as humanly possible. Nature possesses all elements necessary for the human body. Man extracts all these elements and puts in harmful preservatives. The result is the human race is slowly being poisoned to death.’ He claimed he eats ‘everything.’

“The only other centenarian on the district Social Security lists is Richard Crouthers, of Elkland, who was 100 on July 4, 1962. Rickman was a mere 98 or 99 then.”

Leader & Press, June 3, 1964

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