In August, 1936, Noah Monroe Brock tallied the oldest Montgomery County citizen, hitting 100 years old that birthday, living to be yet five and almost six years older. Certainly, he loved birthdays and had many unique and unusual ones.
Born in Farmington, North Carolina 14 August, 1836 to William Britton and Frances Chaffin Brock, the youngest of four sons and at least two sisters, he did what he loved, farmed, but when the Civil War broke out, he was forced to make a choice. He chose with two of his brothers to fight for the Confederates. Another brother chose the other side.
With a good education, Noah enlisted 2 Oct 1861 with the rank of 2nd Sgt. He would spend all four years in the ranks of Co B, 10th Virginia Calvary and move up to 1st Lt., having fought under William Henry Lee and was wounded at the battle of Fredericksburg.
Upon his return, he fell in love with Emily Church whose family loved him. In fact, about everyone loved Noah Monroe Brock. She was 15 and he twice her age when they were married April 17th in 1866 by Rev. C.M. Anderson. This marriage would storm the birth and death of four children (some indication also had a son Ben who died young); moving several states, and finally the death of the adored Emily, but that wasn’t until after almost 70 years of marriage (lacking less than three months).
The family lived in NC where three of the children to grow to adulthood were born: Willie Lee in Feb 1867; Sallie (March 1869); Richard Francis “Frank” (Dec 1871) and Belle (Nov 1876). Right after Frank’s birth, they moved to Johnson County, Indiana and about 20 years (according to two sources although they are listed in the 1880 MoCo census) later moved on to their last home just northeast of Darlington. Life is odd, for sure. He lived to be almost 106; Emily 85, but Willie died of asthma at age 41; Frank killed himself at 45; Belle died at age 47 (bladder troubles) and Sallie lived the longest of their children to be 52. She was also the only one to have children: three – Lee, Belle and Florence.
Noah’s birthday party after Belle passed away was instigated and carried out with 46 in attendance by Emily’s brother and families. Thereafter, although the grand girls lived in Michigan, Noah would invite them and Lee, who mainly lived in the Darlington area, to join him for his parties after the deaths of Emily and his children. Many friends from the area would stop by and bring flowers and small gifts, as well. Definitely, he was lucky to have his daughter-in-law, Edith (wife of Willie) take excellent care of him. They had a true love for each other it seemed and he would let her boss him around as long as it was for his own good. His 100th birthday was one of the best, though as it was not only his 100th but the 100th of Darlington, too. He led the parade of 25 floats (plus many displays) and everyone was so proud of their unique veteran. Over 2,000 persons viewed the celebration and most individuals in the Darlington area were involved!
Even the press loved old Noah, as they often featured him in small pieces, including quite the hoopla when he became a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and even had Major Joseph Rich, a NC veteran of the Spanish-American War come to present a personal wish to have a “long and continued life of happiness,” on Noah’s 105th. The problem I found however was that there really wasn’t an exceptional picture of our fellow, but here is one of the better ones from the Lafayette Journal-Courier 15 April 1939. Edith was good to all his visitors (he had many from all over the US) and Major Rich stayed several days enjoying everyone’s company and hospitality.
At other times, Noah would be questioned on current events. Once he said, “President Roosevelt is all right, but he’s had office long enough!” He was well read and even after his century day could read without his glasses. Daily, he walked ¼ of a mile to his post box and said that not worrying (“Worry kills people, that’s why I’ve always farmed”) and eating right was the key to a lengthy life. An example of his meal was “a small portion of chicken livers, mashed potatoes, green beans, fresh tomatoes” (that he dearly loved) and almost always cookies, cake or a dessert. For breakfast, rolled oats, sugared but no cream and a cup of black coffee. Not sure that’s all so healthy, but it obviously worked for him!
After a short illness of just a few days, still able to come to the table for his meals, he passed away. Dr. Ralph Edward Otten of Darlington signed Noah’s death record and I loved that he made sure that everyone knew how great he was, even someone who didn’t know him as the age was huge and bold, meticulously written as 105 Years 9 Months 26 Days. Rest in peace, Noah Monroe Brock!

Karen Zach is the editor of Montgomery Memories, our monthly magazine all about Montgomery County. Her column, Around the County, appears each Thursday in The Paper of Montgomery County.