The entire Oates family will gather in Stuttgart this Thanksgiving, not just for the holiday but also to celebrate the birthday of the family’s matriarch, Elfreda Oates, who becomes a centurion.
The birthday celebration will take place on Thanksgiving Day at the Holman Heritage Community Center on North Buerkle Street in Stuttgart.
Oates’ birthday is actually Dec. 8 but the family is celebrating a little early to allow family members, church members and the community the opportunity to share in the occasion.
Visitors of Oates any other day will find her managing the family farm. She currently farms 534.2 acres of cropland and 284.3 acres of woodland. She operates the family farm, which includes making all business decisions and limited farm machinery. At the age of 91, Oates applied for business assistance in the construction of a pit reservoir underground pipeline, a diesel powered pumping plant added height to a levy to hold more irrigation water and an eight-foot water controlled structure to regulate the flow of water in and out of the 65-acre reservoir. Once the project was complete she was very excited about the new irrigation system.
She began farming just after she and her husband, LeRoy, were married. The two were married on Sept. 28, 1932. She was 19, and he was 23. Together, they had 15 children, 40 grandchildren, 82 great-grandchildren and 28 great-great grandchildren. He passed in 1984.
What did she do to live this long? Oates says she stayed busy working all day and night and training her children and her neighbor’s children how to work and the importance of work. She ate plenty of raw and cooked vegetables and fruit.
In addition to being a busy wife, mother and farmer she also owned a grocery store called Oates Grocery for several years. Jokingly, she says she ran a hotel, daycare, restaurant, laundromat and a taxicab service all from her house.