Monday, January 30, 2012

Mystery Monday - Columbus, O Woman - Lillie McMullen Blair?

Lillie McMullen Late 1890's?
I bought a group of old photographs a while back on eBay and there were two of the same beautiful woman from Columbus, O (Ohio). This first one is identified on the back as "Lillie McMullen." The photographer is W. H. Wells of 262 1/2 S. High St., Columbus, O.  

The second picture I posted recently in my "Women with Hats" series.  She's on the right identified as "Lillie Blair" and an unknown friend or relative on the left.  The photographer is also Wells.  I think she looks older in the second photo so am guessing her maiden name is McMullen and married name Blair.  I found several Lillie McMullens and Lillie Blairs on  The only one that seems to fit the timeline was born 1873 to Alex & Eliza McMullen in Columbus, Ohio.  I did not find much else to substantiate her identity.  In the same lot of pictures I also have a picture of a little girl Muriel Blair but cannot match her up with Lillie an any way.  Such a mystery!

Lillie McMullen Blair (r) late 1890's?

The photographer was a successful and talented African-American photographer.  I found a mention of him in a book written by Diane VanSkiver Gagel, "Ohio Photographers 1839-1900. She listed him as W. H. Wells, Columbus, 276 S. High, 1895-98, 262 South High, 1899.  In I found him in the Columbus, Ohio city directory still at the 262 South High address in 1914 and then in 1928 at the address of 1220 Mt. Vernon Avenue.  I also found him in the 1930 Columbus census listed as William H. Wells, negro, age 63, married 19 years, born Ohio, wife Sadie age 60 years, one daughter Artura age 17 years.  He owned his own home worth $3000.


  1. A beautiful portrait. A graduation photo? Identifying the photographer is very interesting. How did a black man enter into this trade in this era? He knew his art.

  2. I had not considered that being a graduation photo, but it very well could be especially considering the dress she is wearing. I too found the photographer very interesting and worth the mention.

  3. I believe you have photos of Lillian May Blair who was born in September 1876 in Pennsylvania, daughter of John K. and Sarah Lavinia Blair. Lillian married James H. McMullen of Charleston, WV. Lillie and James had as son, Robert J. McMullen, born February 17, 1893 in Charleston.

    In the 1900 Census, Lillian and Robert are living in Columbus with her sister May and brother-in-law, Enoch Kibbey. Members of the Blair family are living in neighboring houses, 1160 and 1188 Hildreth Avenue. Lillie is listed as widowed and is working as a shiner in a shoe factory.

    I believe that Muriel is Lillie's niece, the daughter of her brother Harry.

    The Blairs lived in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania in 1880. John K. Blair worked as a bricklayer his entire life.

    1. Thank you for this additional information about my subject. Are you a relative or descendant? If you are I can provide you with copies without my copyright. At any rate, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to research and comment!


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