Every Friday The Psychogenealogist shares a "Pic of the Week." The intent is to encourage thought and imagination about the spaces where psychology, genealogy, and history converge.
This photograph really grabbed my attention when I was searching for late 1800s cabinet cards on eBay. The woman's face, hair, and stare struck me as more unique than most from that era. I was curious about her ethnicity.
The markings on the front suggest that the photographer is "Haynes" from St. Paul, presumably Minnesota.
A name on the back was written in elegant cursive. The writing seemed to be original from around the time of the photo was made. When that is the case my confidence in the information is always greater.
The name reads:
Lillian Florence Gray
Though in a different state, Prescott is only about 25 miles Southeast of St. Paul.
Who was Lillian Florence?
The first result in an initial Ancestry.com search yield a Find a Grave memorial entry for a Florence Lillian Grace (1866-1901) who was born in Prescott, died in St. Paul, and was buried in Prescott.
The population of Prescott, WI in 1900 was only about 1000 people. It seems highly unlikely that there was more than one Lillian Florence (or Florence Lillian) who lived there at the time. I think we've found our woman!
Assuming this is her, here are some likely details about here life.
- She was born to Ryan Gray (1811-1882) and Lucy Ellen Bowie Gray (1828-1896).
- Lillian appeared to have several half siblings who shared the same father. Evidence suggests Lucy was Ryan's 2nd wife (his 1st presumably died). Lucy was also 17 years younger than Ryan.
- In 1900, after both of her parents had died, and shortly before her own death, Lillian was living as a boarder in Prescott.
- She did not appear to marry or have children.
There were several "Potential" relatives generated by Ancestry. The leads seemed promising and, with a little time, could probably be confirmed or ruled out.
There were two family trees on Ancestry that included Lillian. One tree was private and the other was public. I will be contacting both to see if there as any connection. I will let you know what I find.
In the meantime, here are a few questions.
- What is Lillian's story?
- What you you think, feel, and wonder about as you look at her portrait?
- How did she die?
- Who was she living with in 1900 and why was she living there?
- What happened to her father's 1st wife?
- Are there any relatives of Lillian's alive today who might be interested in having this photograph returned to the family?