Chester Beryl LILLIE (1900-1921) was the only son of George Wyte LILLIE (1874-1943) and his first wife Mary Belle Stafford (1878-1915). Chester and his family were living in Kalamazoo as early as 1915, the year his mother died. They resided there until about 1918 when they went to live in Chicago. This photograph was likely taken before the move to Chicago. He is the young man on the left. The other two were not identified.
Bradley J. Fuller, the oldest of nine children, was the proprietor of Fuller Studio on 409 North Burdick Street in Kalamazoo, Michigan, from 1916 to 1917. His youngest brother Dana Simon Fuller took over in 1919. Which of the Fuller brothers took this portrait of these young men is not known.
In 1920 Chester was enumerated twice on the census. He was in Chicago with his father, step-mother, and his two sisters on a census sheet dated 2 January. Chester was listed as working as a switchman for the railroad, the same occupation as his father George and his cousin Samuel Royalty LILLIE. He was also found in the Oak Forest Institution, Bremen Township, Cook County, Illinois, as a patient on an undated census sheet. The institution was enumerated on 67 sheets, the first few were dated 26 January. Chester may have only been home for the holidays.
On Tuesday, 1 March 1920, Chester died in Chicago. His body was transported to Kalamazoo for burial in Riverside Cemetery where his mother was buried. She also died of tuberculosis. His older sister Pearl Eva LILLIE died four months later and was buried in Riverside Cemetery. I have not found a death record with the cause of her death but suspect she may have also succumbed to tuberculosis.
Getting back to the two young men in the photograph with Chester. They appear to be at least 5 years older than Chester. Could they be friends or relatives? Reese Gentry LILLIE and Samuel Royalty LILLIE would be about the right age but there are no photos of Reese to compare with. Roy’s eyes were darker than the young man on the right although he does resemble Roy due to the way his hair is combed.
More about this collection, how it came to be in my possession,
and links to previous posts in the series can be found here.
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