Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Welcome Home Lillian Bromagen Stevens

I had made contact with a new-found cousin a few months ago through a tree I have on ancestry.com. He had mentioned the existence of some photos he inherited from another family cousin and I asked if he wouldn't mind scanning a few for me to add to the collection I've been accumulating. Over the weekend he sent them and they were the most wonderful surprise I could have imagined. Included in the photo set was a photo of Lillian Bromagen Stevens taken around late 1908-early 1909. Nothing extraordinary in that, except for the fact that she was thought to have been long dead. Her only child, my Great Grandfather, claimed that he never knew his mother so we all figured that she had died when he was extremely young or even during childbirth (which we knew was premature). And yet there she was in this picture, holding my Great Grandfather's first-born child who was born in 1908. I had long suspected that something was going on regarding Papa's claim, the settling of Lillian's mother's widow's pension claim for one was a tip off that something wasn't right, but didn't have any proof. Til now. It's another mystery to try to solve, but more importantly I feel like she's made her way home. We can finally put a face to the name and place her with the photos of the rest of her family. And we as a family can recognize her, and that is so important. Being able to find the names of those who have come before us is one thing. It's exhilarating to make that connection for sure. But when you can actually see the face of that person you've been researching for months and months, or even years on end, there is something more. I don't know what happened to her, I don't know what her mystery is, but I'm glad I can see her face and be able to say that she's my Great Great Grandmother. Welcome home, Lillian.


  1. What an interesting mystery you have here! At least you have photographic evidence to start from.

  2. It really is a mystery. And you're right about the photographic evidence. It's definitely a step in the right direction. It really was a stroke of luck that the one known photo of her could be dated so closely. We knew the baby was born in 1908 in Chicago and this photo shows him to be fairly young, under a year old so we can date this very closely. For now, I'm just waiting for the death record to arrive to see if the Lillian Stevens who died in Chicago in 1909 is the right person. If it is, it may have a clue about the cause of death. I'm thinking my next step after getting the death record may be asylums as this family group is known to have had at least 2 cases of insanity, including her father. It would explain the hush hush attitude shown by her husband and son. But that's down the road. I need to wait and see what happens with this death record.