Ellis Album

Black Ellis Album #1, Page 21


This album page highlights the unique nature of families.  The first photo features my great-grandmother holding her much younger first cousin, Donna Le Whitlock.  The last photo features my great-grandmother’s youngest sibling who was born sixteen years after she was.  Families are all different.  Siblings and cousins can be spread across many years.

One of my favorite things about these messy generations is that some of my older family members are closer, generationally speaking, to ancestors I never met.  Those older family members may not have met certain ancestors, but still know more about them because their parents told them about those ancestors — ancestors who were their siblings, parents, or grandparents.

I am grateful for each one of those family members who are among the last of their generation.  They answer so many questions as I work with old family treasures.  I also recognize that it must be lonely to be one of the last of a generation.  My own little one is much younger than his older brothers.  He will likely be among the last of his generation.  I think this makes me more sensitive and appreciative of my older family members who are in this situation.

Here is the first photo:


Blanche Octavia Huband holding Donna Le Whitlock, likely winter 1922


In this lovely photo, my great-grandmother, Blanche Octavia Huband, is holding her first cousin, Donna Le Whitlock.  Donna was born 5 August 1921 so this photo was likely taken in the winter of 1922.  One person wrote directly on the photo, “Donna Lee Whitlock.”  Beneath the photo, my grandmother, Blanche’s daughter, wrote “Blanche Ellis, Donna Lee Whitlock,” in white pencil.  The records from Donna’s life agree that her middle name was spelled “Le” and not “Lee.”  Blanche was born 21 May 1895, so she was twenty-six years older than her sweet little first cousin.

The second photo was a mystery.  The label simply reads, “Calif- May 1915.”  Thankfully, my cousin, Suzanne, was able to help identify the children as sisters Mary Beryl Hill, 1909–2009, and Mildred Lorraine Hill, 1912–1999.  The young girls were the daughters of Maude Grace Bevans and Barton Deworne Hill.  Maude was my great-grandmother’s first cousin.


Taken in California May 1915, l-r: Mary Beryl Hill & Mildren Lorraine Hill


The last photo brings up a surprising family story:


Grant Cheney Huband, June 1914


Grant Cheney Huband is the youngest sibling of my great-grandmother.  Grant was born in 1911.  My great-grandmother’s oldest child was born in 1919.  The families lived across the street from each other.  Grant, his older sister Gene, and my great-grandmother’s oldest children were more like siblings than aunts/uncles and nieces/nephews.

Grant had beautiful blond ringlets — you can see one peeking out from his hat.  Grant’s mother, Hattie Margaret Cheney, loved his hair and never cut it.  When Grant was about six years old, my great-grandfather, Claude Albert Ellis, apparently took his much younger brother-in-law into the barn and cut off his hair.  It is said that Grandma Hattie wouldn’t speak to her son-in-law Claude for quite some time after this incident.

Families are messy and beautiful and I’m so glad to be the current steward of so many precious photos.  Sharing those photos is a privilege.  Remembering the lives of those in the photos is an honor.



This post is part of a series sharing this wonderful old family photo album.  You can learn more about the album here.  A digital version of this photo album can be viewed on Flickr here.



Happy Monday, I hope you and your loved ones are happy, safe, and healthy!  xoxo



6 thoughts on “Black Ellis Album #1, Page 21”

  1. Lovely photos, Amberly. My mom is that last of her generation in our family. She was twelve years younger than her brother, thirteen years younger than her sister, and her mother was the youngest of her siblings to have children. My mother did have a few first cousins close in age, but she long ago (before I was born) lost touch. So she is the last one left, and sadly she now has dementia and cannot answer any questions I have.

    1. Oh, you are breaking my heart a little bit, Amy! My little one is fourteen years younger than his oldest brother and eleven years younger than my middle one. At least I’m the oldest so my oldest two are the oldest cousins, then there are bunch of cousins, then my little guy, then one more cousin. But, sadly, we live all across the country so he doesn’t know his cousins well. Several of my cousins live close by and we have family dinner every Sunday (well, we did, for eleven straight years until last March . . .) so he knows some of my cousins and their kids really well. He is only a little older than his second cousins.

      I am so sorry to hear that your Mom has dementia. She is blessed to have you. Are you able to see her in some way?

      1. I don’t be sad about it—he has a much larger extended family than my mom did. And I don’t think she ever was sad about her position in the family. Her sister doted on her—maybe too much! She always said she had two mothers. And she had a very long and happy marriage with my dad. Your baby will be fine!

        We moved her from NY to MA a year and a half ago after my dad died. She’s living in a wonderful memory care facility about ten miles from me, and they have done a fabulous job of keeping everyone safe. We can do short indoor visits with full PPE now. And in some ways the dementia is a blessing because she has no idea about COVID. There’s always a silver lining.

        1. Thank you, Amy! You are making me feel better. ❤️

          I’m so glad your Mom is doing okay and that you are able to visit!! COVID has been cruel to so many, especially our elderly population living in care facilities. I hadn’t considered dementia being a blessing during COVID, but I can see how it could be.

          Everytime I hear about someone I know being vaccinated I am so happy! Has your Mom been vaccinated?

          1. She had her first shot on January 15, so her second will be a week from tomorrow. Massachusetts has been very slow. What about out there?

            1. I’m not sure. From news reports it sounds like we are moving along well, but I haven’t followed it that closely since my parents live in Washington and I’m too young to be vaccinated yet.

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