Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can ~ #91 A Series of Brick Wall Photos

The photographs I’m sharing today were taken with a brick wall as the backdrop. None are labeled but in the first, I recognize Florence ROYALTY and her brother-in-law George Wyte LILLIE. I don’t know who the woman in the middle is. There were two copies of this photo in the collection, one had June 14 written across the top but no year.

George Wyte LILLIE, an unknown woman, and Florence ROYALTY

For comparison here are two photos taken around 1930. Definitely, before 19 November 1932 as this is when Isaac died.

Isaac LILLIE (1872-1932) with his wife Florence ROYALTY (1868-1946)
Isaac and Florence’s sons Raymond (1904-1970), on the left, and Roy (1895-1979), on the right, with their uncle George Wyte LILLIE (1874-1943) in the middle.


The above two photos were taken in Detroit, Michigan, in front of the apartment building the family was living in. Although the coat with the fur collar worn by Florence and the light colored hat with the dark band worn by George appear to be the same, the second set of photos were most likely not taken on the same day. George in the top photo is wearing a tiny bow tie while in the lower right photo he is wearing a tie. In both pictures, he has a cigar in his hand. Also as the copy of the top photo was labeled June 14 it is very unlikely that the other two photos were not taken in the middle of June since the men are so warmly dressed.

Perhaps the next two photographs could be clues to identify the woman in the middle in the photograph at the top. Could she be the mother of the three children in these photos?

Three unknown children (sitting)
Three unknown children (standing)

Using the bricks as a guide I estimated the height of the children. From left to right, the oldest girl is 17-18 bricks=51-54 inches, the young boy is about 12 bricks=36 inches, and the younger girl is 15-16=45-48 inches. This matches with my estimates of their ages being from youngest to oldest, about 2 1/2, 5, and 7-8 years.

I’ve gone through the LILLIE family tree looking for siblings who were born in the 1920s. The only family group I found which would match was the family of Isaac’s youngest brother Robert Wiley LILLIE (1895-1947) with his wife Neele Audrey OWENS (1898-1942) and their children Roberta Neele b. Oct 1921, Marian Gene b. Aug 1924, and Robert Walton b. Jan 1927.

Roberta’s photo was shared in Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can ~ #7 Robert Wiley LILLIE (1895-1940).

I found a yearbook photo of Marian in the U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 database at Ancestry.

U.S. School Yearbooks, 1880-2012, (Ancestry.com : accessed 28 February 2017)

I shared the photos with Robert Walton LILLIE’s daughter Julie back in December hoping to get them into a post at the end of the year. She wrote, “Cathy, I have never seen this picture before, and in my opinion, they don’t look like my Dad and (his) sisters. But, I could be wrong. Let me send to my sister and see if she recognizes it. I will get back to you.” After sharing with her sister she wrote, “My sister didn’t recognize the picture either, nor did she think it was them. But, neither one of us is 100% sure.”

I still think the children could be an older Roberta, her sister Marian, and their little brother Robert. I sent a new request to Julie to take a look at the lady in the middle in the top photo.

Robert and Marian. Photograph courtesy of family member.

Julie got back to me and sent some photographs including the above for comparison. I believe the children’s blond hair darkened over the years. This would explain the darker hair of the older girl in the photo of the three children. Is she the same person as Roberta seen with the cute blond haircut? Between the time the bottom photo of Robert and Marian was taken and Marian’s picture for the school yearbook, her hair darkened. Alas, Robert and the young boy were not very good studies in either photo. The one above, sent by Julie, shows Robert a bit older than the little boy in the photo with the girls but the cute newsboy cap hides his eyes. In the pictures with the girls, the young boy is looking down, hiding his face.

While we were chatting, Julie told me something I did not know. My research on Robert Sr. and his wife Neele was difficult, to say the least. I never found them together on a census. They were married on 10 April 1920. In 1930 Neele and her oldest daughter Roberta were lodgers in a household. No trace of daughter Marian and husband Robert. I had no idea there was also a son Robert until Julie’s son contacted me.

I have never understood why my Father had to go live with his Uncle Ray and Aunt Clara. I don’t remember my Dad ever explaining it to me, and perhaps he didn’t know for sure. Neele and Robert were married twice and divorced twice. I know my Dad had a rough childhood…..My father seemed to adore his Mother, but not a lot of talk or praise of his Father…..don’t worry about bringing up skeletons, as I am perfectly aware that there are many.

Since we now know Robert and Neele’s marriage had its difficulties, I want you to take another look at the photo at the beginning of this post with the young woman in the middle between George and Florence. Do you notice what I noticed? I have to admit I didn’t see this until I looked at the second copy I have of the same photo which is dated June 14 (without a year).

Is the young woman pregnant? If this was Neele, what happened to the child? Could she have given birth while in Detroit? If this isn’t Neele, would it be possible to find a woman who gave birth sometime after June 14th?

Will someone recognize the children and the young woman in this series of photos taken in front of a brick wall? Are they Neele Audrey Owens Lillie and her children Roberta Neele, Marian Gene, and Robert Walton?

Photos of Neele were shared in Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can ~ #79 The Unusual Hairdo (Identified).

These are the last of the photographs from the collection I was gifted by my cousin Joe Rooney who took them off the hands of his cousin Sandra Lillie who saved them from the trash can. I will be taking a week or two off from writing about this collection but will be back with a final post, a synopsis of the family connections made during the process of writing about each of the over 150 photos.

Would you like to re-visit the photos? You can see them on my Pinterest board Old Photographs Saved from Trash Can.


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.

© 2017, 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.

4 thoughts on “Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can ~ #91 A Series of Brick Wall Photos”

  1. I definitely see a resemblance among the girls in the three photos—there is something about the mouth and smile that appears the same. But I’d think the family would know better? And I do think the woman is pregnant in the bottom photo—perhaps six months or so? If I am right, I’d look for a baby born around September. I can’t believe you’ve finished the whole collection! Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cathy, I have forwarded the post to another family member. I am hoping she will look at the photos and give me her opinion. I do believe you are on to something. I have read your posts and looked at the pictures multiple times, and am starting to believe this all adds up.

    Liked by 1 person

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