Venus Ruff, centenarian?

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Sarah Jackson, 21; brother-in-law Gabriel Bowden, 40, brother-in-law, laborer; sister Anna, 32, cook; nephews Columbus, 11, house servant, and James, 9; son B.F. Jackson, 6; mother Vinus Ruff, 52; and boarder Whitehurst Wiswould, 64, laborer.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: jailor Columbus Gay, 39; Silva Mix, 24, housekeeper; Vinous Wisber, 72, housekeeper; and Sarah Jackson, 47, cooking.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Sarah Jackson, 55, widow, private cook; mother Venus Ruff, 73, widow; and adopted daughters Effie, 17, private nurse, Bessie, 17, private cook, and Etta, 12.

There is no accounting for the 27-year gap between Ruff’s estimated age in the census and her age on her death certificate, made the same year. Earlier census records, however, suggest that she was closer to 82 than 100 when she died.