52 Ancestors: #14 Albert Spencer LILLIE (1848-1913) ~ Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can

Week 14 (April 2-8) – Favorite Photo: Who is in a favorite photo of yours? Or tell the story of the photo itself — where was it taken, what was the event?

With Easter weekend coming up, I was procrastinating, and I went off and did something completely different.

The family I had planned for this week was not quite finished. The information was in draft form and sources were cited. I had to write in details to make it an interesting read. Only I didn’t have a favorite photograph (or any at all) for the family to fit the proposed theme. Amy Johnson Crow says there is no 52 Ancestors police but I’m enjoying trying to fit the theme each week.

Did I mention how I was dawdling and dragging my feet? There are always things I want to get done and I usually find something more interesting to do instead.

Six weeks ago I received a zip file with 251 images of about 150 old photographs from my 4th cousin once removed, Joe ROONEY. His cousin Sandra LILLIE had saved them from the trash  can. Joe and I share my 4th great-grandparents Landon S. GOWING and Sally CRISP as ancestors. The story of how these old photographs came into his possession is included in this note he wrote:

15 February 2015: This collection of photographs was scanned at 300 dpi color by me. The original photos were sent by Sandra Lillie about ten years ago after she found them cleaning out a relative’s garage in Southern Illinois, finding no other takers (suckers). She believes they were a collection by L Vance Lillie. Many of the pictures seemed to be removed from frames or were in albums evidenced by fading characteristics and may have been from other’s collections. I scanned the reverse if there was laboratory advertising or writing. Some of the authors’ identification may be figured out of the handwriting matches. I did not scan the reverse of photos where there was only a three digit number that I believe to be sequence numbers on a roll of film. I didn’t spot any obvious helpful commonalities.

How do you choose your favorite photograph out of a 150 when many are of people who aren’t even in your database?

On Friday I was home alone (no interruptions) and decided to have a quick look through the photos and compare names with my database.

Cousin Joe derived file names from personal recognition or what was written on the reverse side. He used surnames first, given names next, and tried to find some means of differentiating photos of the same person by including detail: sitting, standing, wearing a hat, a date or some other detail from the photo. The pictures that were not identifiable he labeled with UNK and details.

I was able to match the most obvious LILLIE family members. Landon S. GOWING and his wife Sally CRISP’s daughter Martha C. “Martissa” GOWING married Wyatt F. LILLY in 1833 in Amherst County, Virginia. They moved to Caldwell County, Kentucky, where they raised 9 children. One son, Joe’s great-grandfather, Albert Spencer LILLIE, changed the spelling of his surname.

Albert S. LILLIE (1848-1913) is actually the closest relative in the entire batch of photos, being the nephew of my 3rd great-grandmother Clementine (Gowing) DEMPSEY. There were three photos of him in the batch along with scans of the reverse sides giving more information.

The first photo was taken when Albert was 22 years old.

ASLFour different persons wrote information on the back of this tinplate. In ink at the top: Albert S. Lillie. Directly below in pencil and very faded only the beginning of Albert can be read. In the center, again in pencil, A. S. Lillie 22 yrs. At the bottom, in yet another handwriting in ballpoint pen, Isaac Lillie father.

ASLbackIn the second photo of Albert S. LILLIE, he is with a woman. On the back Samuel Royalty LILLIE or his sister, Ruth J. LILLIE wrote, “My Grand Pa was going to marry Mrs. Roper But she died. Then he married Geneva.” From this information, the photo can be dated at between 1900-1904 as his first wife died in 1899 and he was married to Geneva MASON 6 years in 1910 as seen on the census.

aslroperMy favorite of the three is this one:


Joe Rooney has kindly given me permission to use these photographs on my blog.

Please contact me!
Are you related to a person mentioned in this post? Send an email to
openingdoorsinbrickwalls @ pt.lu or message me on my Facebook page
Opening Doors in Brick Walls.

Old Photographs Help Solve Relationships in Family Tree

While I worked through the other names, the pieces of the puzzle began to form a larger picture of the family tree. I ended up attaching nearly 120 photos to 51 persons in my database. About 30 photos remain, 10 with names, and the rest being unidentified persons.

Lynn Vance LILLIE and Joe ROONEY’s grandmother Florence ROYALTY, wife of Isaac Spencer LILLIE, appears to be the lady who plays the leading roll in the story of how these photos came to be collected. Not only did she collect photos of her siblings and their families, her husband Isaac Spencer LILLIE’s family, her mother-in-law Pernecia Elizabeth GLASS’s family,  but also of her stepmother Johanna PADDOCK’s family. I believe her children Samuel and Ruth who lived with her until her death in 1946 may have taken over her collection of photos which then went to Samuel’s son Lynn Vance LILLIE.

When Joe sent me the digital files he wrote, “Or I can mail the originals to you .” I didn’t take him up on offer as I didn’t know how serious he was. When I let him know how all the photos fit into his family tree he may be happy that he kept the originals.

I asked Joe about using the photos and he kindly wrote, Please use them at your will.  I feel it is keeping it in the family and don’t need credit.  If anything, I appreciate your evaluations, identifications and detective work.  I’m hopeful you and yours enjoy them.  On a blog, in a book, above a cloud.” So a spin-off of this blog post will be coming as I share the photos, one person at a time.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Albert Spencer LILLIE
Parents: Wyatt F. LILLY and Martha C. “Martissa” GOWING
Spouse: Pernecia Elizabeth GLASS(*) and Geneva MASON
Children: Isaac S., George W., Frank G., Rosa L., Thomas N., John C., Albert P., Edward B., Reuben D., Jesse L., and Robert W.
Whereabouts: Caldwell County, KY; Trigg County, KY; and Pope County, IL
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 1st cousin 4 times removed

* Albert Spencer LILLIE
* son of Martha C. Martissa GOWING
* grandson of Landon S. GOWING
* nephew of Clementine M. GOWING
* 1C of Mary M. DEMPSEY
* 1C1R of Laura Belle INGRAM
* 1C2R of Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY
* 1C3R of Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY
* 1C4R of Cathy Meder-Dempsey

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

52ancestors-2015This is my weekly entry for Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge:
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. It was so successful in 2014 that genealogists wanted to continue or join in on the fun in 2015. Be sure to check out the other great posts by visiting Amy’s blog No Story Too Small where she’ll be posting the weekly recap on Thurdays and allowing all participants to leave a link to their post(s) in the comments.



Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

10 thoughts on “52 Ancestors: #14 Albert Spencer LILLIE (1848-1913) ~ Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can”

  1. I like the format you used to document your relationship to the featured relative (1C1R etc). I was wondering the best way to do it for distant relatives. I always learn something from you. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with the others in that Wow! What a wonderful gift! I also applaud your detective work which is always superb, and highlights your highly analytical mind. I’d like to know how you put those, are they called water marks on the pics? Cool! And, how did you draw the box around the acestry chart? I often want to do that, but haven’t figured out how! LOL You are often a teacher to me as well! Fondly, H

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How lucky it was that someone was in the right place at the right time to save these from the trash can. A paternal second cousin said when his aunt died, her family came in and tossed all the family photos and historical information. He has always wished someone was there to stop it from happening. I like the last photo, too. “Grand Paw” is looking straight ahead with such an intent expression on his face.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LInda, I am always happy to hear about photos and research being saved from the trash can or local dump. I know that we need to take steps so that this does not happen to our own research. Albert does have an intent expression onhis face and I love how they spelled Grand Paw! Thank you for always stopping by.


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