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