Wow. I missed this thread. I didn't realize the analysis was as sophisticated as it was. Nonetheless, I'll leave this because it puts a minimum number on the old cannibal's age.
Don't know if anyone else caught this, or has since refuted it. The Picture in the House was set in 1896. So, the Old Man cannibal is at least one hundred thirty eight years old.
“Oh, thet Afriky book? Cap’n Ebenezer Holt traded me thet in ’sixty-eight—him as was kilt in the war.”
He's not referring to the Civil War, but the Revolutionary, War because as our narrator goes on to say:
"Something about the name of Ebenezer Holt caused me to look up sharply. I had encountered it in my genealogical work, but not in any record since the Revolution."
“As I says, ’tis queer haow picters sets ye thinkin’. D’ye know, young Sir, I’m right sot on this un here. Arter I got the book off Eb I uster look at it a lot, especial when I’d heerd Passon Clark rant o’ Sundays in his big wig.
What parson in the 19th century wore a wig when preaching? Again, wigs were worn in the 18th century during pre-revolutionary times, and for a short while after. Now assuming the Old Man was twenty when he traded Captain Ebenezer for the book, in 1768, in 1896, he would have to be at least 138 years old.
Which is just one more reason western society's blanket condemnation of cannibalism, needs to be rethought from first principles... ah, but perhaps I've said too much...
Ha! Miscount! Ye Olde Backwoods Wyrdo would be 148 (Now that `s 100 extra nerdpoints for me!) according to your calculation. But right, one does the maths almost automatically for it makes you all curious how old that guy really is. I think you are absolutely right in assuming he took up his peculiar dining habits at a young age thus undergoing a queerly different kind of aging rather than preserving himself at an already matured state .
I do also like the curwenized talk in that part, complete with wigs and other anachronisims.
@T. Kelly Lee: Do you have a link or something? This sounds a bit silly to me. Were Neanderthals both cannibals and too stupid to heat their meal up? Are there any more prions in human flesh than normal?