Laura Shackleford, born a slave

Laura Shackleford was born a slave on a plantation in Bainbridge, GA, in 1861 and lived to be 100. But she was best known for starting an
organization that arranged funerals for poor, black members of the
several communities where she lived. The group was called the “Burial
Aid Benevolence Society,” and it had chapters in Georgia and later in
Elizabeth, Jersey City and Newark after Shackleford migrated to New
Jersey. She moved to Newark in 1924 and remained in the city the rest
of her life. It was through the society’s work that she became known as
“Mother Shackleford.” At a party celebrating her 100 th birthday in April
1961, Shackleford said the secret to a long life was to “have faith in
your maker.” Her greatest enjoyments, she noted, were listening to the
radio and having friends over to visit. At that point, she lived with her
daughter – Mrs. Lelia Mann, a nurse — at 32 Avon Avenue in Newark.
Shackleford also remembered shaking hands with two U.S. presidents –
William McKinley and Franklin D. Roosevelt. When asked about her
approach to child-rearing, she advised parents to be strict with their
offspring to the point of getting physical with them, should the need
arise. The cake at her centennial party was baked by the Goodwill
Industries of New Jersey, where her grandson, Francis L. Warren, was
director of rehabilitation and personnel. Mother Shackleford died at
the Martland Medical Center in Newark on Nov. 26, 1961. Funeral
services were held at the Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Newark
followed by burial at Woodland Cemetery. She was survived by two
children, seven great grandchildren and three great, great

Research by Guy Sterling.

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