Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can ~ #83 William F. HOLT Family of Brookport, Illinois

While doing these posts I’ve opened several doors in Joe’s brick walls. Joe is my 4th cousin once removed through my 4th great-grandparents Landon S. GOWING and Sally CRISP of Amherst and Nelson County, Virginia.

In the beginning, I was only concentrating on getting the identified photos posted with a little family history. Along the way, I’ve been able to identify some of the unknowns.

Although I’ve learned about old photographs and the fashion of the period, I’m still a beginner and nowhere near possessing the expertise others have when working with vintage photography. This proficiency is lacking when it comes to the photo I am featuring today.

I’ve been avoiding doing this one as it was labeled as an unknown family and I don’t know how to classify it.

wfholtfamilyThe original is 4 1/3 by 5 1/2 inches including a border of about 1/2 an inch. It is unique and not similar in format to any of the other photos in the collection. It has been mounted onto a piece of glass. The image is facing the glass like a photo in a picture frame. The glass is larger than the photo and a green border has been painted on the back side where the glass overlaps the photo. The brush strokes can be seen along the edge of the back of the photo which is gray with very light writing on it.

wfholtfamilybackAt first glance, I did not see there was writing on it, it is that faint. I tried holding it at an angle by a window (natural light), using a lighted magnifier, and taking a picture of it. I was able to make out some letters and two words. W. F. Holt and Brookport.

HOLT is one of the surnames which has been mentioned a few times in this series. Thelma HOLT was the wife (they later divorced) of Samuel Royalty “Roy” LILLIE and the mother of Lynn Vance LILLIE. Thelma’s parents were from Brookport, Massac County, Illinois.

Her parents were William F. HOLT (1871-1934) and Edith S. WYMER (1874-1948). They had a daughter Lula M. HOLT (1895-1963) and a son Leonard Herman HOLT (1897-1947), both born before Thelma whose birthday was 30 June 1901. This fits perfectly with the family group in this picture. A man and a woman, a young girl about 6 or 7 years old, a young boy about 4 years old, and a baby.

While researching this photograph I learned that wicker chairs first appeared in the 1890s as studio props and continued to be used for several decades. In this photograph, the father is sitting on what looks like a wicker chair or stool. His wife is also sitting and holding a baby. The two children are standing.

I suspect the photo was taken in late 1901. The baby on the mother’s lap is wearing what looks like a voluminous christening gown which completely hides her size and makes it difficult to estimate her age.

The young girl, standing behind her parents, wears a center part. Her hair is French braided from the crown to the nape of the neck and then hangs in two regular braids down her back. The mother’s hair is combed back from her face and likely pinned up in a bun at the nape. Both mother and daughter are wearing similar blouses with large collars adorned with a gathered ruffle which reaches to the shoulder seam, perhaps made by the mother from the same pattern. The mother is wearing a dark floor-length skirt. One of her pointed shoe tips is peeking out from under the skirt.

The young boy has a side part like his father and is wearing a darling suit, similar to the sailor suits children were wearing at the time. The large lapels are embroidered as are the cuffs of the jacket and a row of buttons is on both sides. He is wearing knee pants, knee-high socks, and boots laced up above the ankle. Around his neck, he has a floppy bow tie while his father, who is wearing a three-piece suit without leg cuffs, does not have any kind of tie. The lapels of the man’s jacket have shiny inserts. A watch chain hangs from the vest buttons and is likely tucked into the vest pocket hidden by his jacket. A tiny light circular adornment is on the collar of his vest. His white shirt is buttoned up to the pointed collar. The toe caps of his lace up boots are dull, likely from daily use.

I believe the identification on the back fits the William F. HOLT family of Brookport, Illinois, and the fashion fits for late 1901. One question remains. Does this method of mounting a photo on a piece of glass and adding a painted border have a name or could it have been a homemade preservation attempt by a person who formerly owned the photograph?


More about this collection, how it came to be in my possession,
and links to previous posts in the series can be found here.

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.

© 2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.













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.

9 thoughts on “Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can ~ #83 William F. HOLT Family of Brookport, Illinois”

    1. Dry glass plate is the developing stage, also known as gelatin process. Gelatin silver prints replaced albumen prints as the most popular photographic process by 1895. It is very probably that this photograph was developed using this process but does not explain why the print appears to have been glued face down to the glass plate.
      I learned more about photography today, thanks to your comment.


  1. Isn’t that a number I see on the right under Brookport? It seems clearly a ‘9’, and at first I saw 98, then maybe 90. Are you seeing that as something other than a number?
    And have you figured out the word with the very large capitol “R”. Must be important to be so large.
    I admire your attention to detail. You always make me go back and look again at things I skimmed over in the picture the first time. Teaches me to look at my own photos more carefully.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nearly missed your comment, Vera, as I did not get the WP notification.
      There does seem to be something there and I also thought it might be a 98 at the end. Below, I thought at the end of the R it might be “ville” but wasn’t sure. It is so faint. I was lucky to get this much on the photo I took of the back.
      Thank you so much for the compliment, Vera. Glad to hear you are learning something from me.


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