Friday’s Faces from the Past – With a Twist

I need some help. I think I may have come across something very exciting.

I had found this envelope in my chaotic hope chest of pictures a while ago. On the front it says: This was given to mother in ’96 (Here I am assuming mother is my great-grandmother as she is the only logical “mother” who would have been given this and that means that my grandmother wrote that and the margin notations in the pictures you’ll see below). It also says women Aunt Lile Witherell & Geardie Witherell.

Mystery Envelope

Mystery Envelope


It reads:

Aunt Lill (Witherell) Clarkson sitting + Little (McLord) Witherell standing <Gardie Witherell’s mother 

- Gardie as a small child

To be given to him or one of his boys. Lila P. 

Now. I hunted for these pictures because I believed that was my great brick wall of Lily McLeod and any link I can have to her would be amazing! There were two pictures in the envelope I believe, one with the two women, and then one of Gardie as a small child.

There are two Gard Witherell’s though but the elder Gard’s mother was Martha (Wolcott), so I can be pretty sure it is not the woman the envelope mentioned. I am also assuming there are two pictures because otherwise that line about Gardie as a small child doesn’t make sense nor the line on the front. So I have this picture of Gard as a small child:

Gard Witherell - my great-great grandpa whose mother is Lily.

Gard Witherell – my great-great grandpa whose mother is Lily.


Notice the handwriting on the side? That’s my grandmother who wrote that. (The reliability of her knowledge is suspect since she is married to a Witherell and this would be her husband’s great-grandfather and her father in-law doesn’t know a lot about his own family either). It says Gardie Witherell – Glenn’s Dad.

Now notice that top picture? It’s a bit odd. It reminded me of a similar picture I saw of two women…

Mystery Picture

Mystery Picture


The same type of original photo – are these my two pictures?? On the side, my grandmother wrote Aunt Lile & Fannie McGriff – Glenn’s mother. I always assumed this was correct although there is no Aunt Lile I can find but Fannie did have a sister named Nellie. However, looking at these two pictures, I wondered if they were the same woman. After all, Gardie in the first picture is Fanny’s husband – that would mean that these two pictures were about 20 years apart in age. That doesn’t make sense (right??). So, is this my brick-wall Lily?

Well, to be sure, I grabbed a picture of Fannie and then compared it to the picture of the two women – specifically the woman standing:

Fannie McGriff

Fannie McGriff

Close up of the two women



























Specifically, I looked at their noses, and they don’t match to me. Also, the clothes for each don’t seem to match. The picture of Fannie would have been taken probably about 1915 or so because there is a matching picture of the three boys and they are rather young. The picture of the two girls, if it is Lily, would have been taken around the mid 1880’s with the matching picture of Gardie being about a year or two old.

Of course, I’m worried that I’m so excited about the possibility that the picture could be Lily McLeod that I’m not seeing the reality – that these two pictures have the same women. So I’m reaching out – what do you all believe? Are those two pictures of the same woman?

And just in case you are curious, I have NO idea who the other woman would be (nor who the woman who sent the picture, Lila P, is). If it is Fanny, my guess is it is her sister, Nellie. However, if it isn’t Fanny and it is Lily, then it would be one of her husband’s sisters – none of whom were named Lill or Till (depending on what that first letter may be – I think it’s an L) and none of the sisters (Frances and Jane made it to marriage, Helen died at the age of 8) married someone by the name of Clarkson. I will be the first to admit though, that my research into Gard’s family is sketchy right now. So I may have missed a sibling.

I’m reaching out to you internet world! Can anyone help me?

Categories: Discovery, McGRIFF, McLEOD, Photo, Problem, WITHERELL+ | Tags: , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Friday’s Faces from the Past – With a Twist

  1. Oh I love a good mystery! After looking at this quite a bit, I definitely think the women are different!!! How exciting! I love that feeling of “breaking through” a wall :) Keep us posted as you find out more.

    • NikiMarie

      Will do! She has been my biggest wall for quite some time so anything that gives me a bit more is always exciting. :)

  2. I hear you – but I don’t know. I hope you figure it out!

  3. I think the clothes are way too far apart to be the same women. The one with the two women sitting is likely the 1870s-1880s. The decoration on the skirts comes from that time period in addition to the style of bodices (and corseting). The picture of the woman standing in profile alone is from the 1910s to teens. Notice the shape of the collar and the slimness through the waist. The puffiness in her bodice is a remainder of the pigeon shape of the 1910s but the waistline is higher.

    So my opinion is that they are not the same woman, and that they are probably 20-30 years apart in time.

    • NikiMarie

      That is wonderful to hear! I had looked back and forth and clothes from the era and thought that too. It’s good to hear that from experienced eyes! Thanks :)

      • I also wanted to point out that if it is the same woman, she didn’t age a day in 20-30 years!

        And you are very welcome! :-) All those years studying clothing certainly comes in handy.

  4. You should enlist the help of Maureen Taylor, “photo detective”! She has a website at She has quite a few books out there on ancient photographs and is an expert on pegging the time frame and location of the styles of dress. I brought her to our Western Massachusetts Genealogical Society through a virtual SKYPE presentation a few months back. Very impressive!

  5. Pingback: 52 Ancestors #4: Fannie McGriff | My People in History

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