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Former slave: Florida’s oldest woman lived in Madison County in 1970

Jacob Bembry: Greene Publishing, Inc.

Many people live for a long time, but in 1970, a woman returned to Madison from Orlando and she had claim to the title of Florida’s oldest living woman.

Willie Dukes Bellamy had been born into slavery in south Georgia. As a young girl, she migrated to Madison County with her parents, where she lived until moving to the Orlando area at the age of 30, in 1883. She remained in central Florida until 1970 at the age of 117.

Documentation of her birth came from a family Bible, owned by her father, Willis Dukes. A transcript of the family lineage was made from the original Bible, which was in the possession of Willie Dukes Bellamy’s stepmother, Florida Dukes.

Willie Dukes Bellamy was brought to Madison by her nephew, Columbus Dukes, so she could visit with her brother, Amos Dukes. Her vision and her hearing were good even at the age of 117, when she was living in the Hickory Grove area of Madison County.

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