Family Story Friday – Aunt Lillie & the Mystery Man

This blog post is one in the series, Family Story Friday. I hope it inspires you to begin saving family stories one-at-a-time. After all, if you don’t save the stories, who will?

black and white and sepia of a young woman

Aunt Lillie Dearing and the Mysterious Button

Lillie Dearing was born in 1874 in Sullivan County, Missouri. Her parents were Samuel Broyles Dearing and Matilda Elizabeth Reger. Siblings were Earls, Jacob and half-sisters Ada and Oto Eaton. She is my great-grandaunt.

Lillie married Othal Dearing in 1903. They both passed away in 1956 and are buried in the Asbury Cemetery, 7 miles NW of Milan, Sullivan County, Missouri.

Tombstone of husband, wife and child

What Could This Button Be?

I’m unsure of when this photo of Lillie was taken, but she looks to be in her 20’s, although I’m terrible at guessing ages. (I think I need to ask Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective). When I first enlarged this photo I noticed that the pin she was wearing was of a man’s portrait. Now I’m truly puzzled as I don’t know if this would be some kind of political button or whether she might have worn a button with a photo of a deceased loved one?

Sadly, this family story is going to have to wait until I have more information about that pin (button) she’s wearing.

Do you know what this button could be? If so, please leave a comment.


I receive several requests a day for assistance with genealogy research. If you would like to receive research pricing information please contact me using the Contact link at the top of the page. I look forward to working with you.

Don't forget to pick up your free Cheatsheet for Saving Family Stories

Save Your Family Stories - 10 Easy Steps

*by downloading this free PDF you're confirming that you also wish to receive my free genealogy newsletter


  1. During the Victorian period it was popular to wear either a picture or an case containing a lock of hair from a deceased relative during a period of mourning.

    Perhaps this is the answer. More info is needed.

    1. Hi Theresa,

      I’ve seen articles about wearing a lock of hair, but just had never run into a button like this one. And you’re definitely right – more information is needed! Nancy

  2. Dear Theresa and Nancy,
    I have a set of ‘buttons/pins’ that are the photos of my great-grandparents. I am not great with judging ages but they are young and I have imagined (imagine if I had had the smarts to ask my mother about these photos?!) that the photos are about the time they were married. A friend of mine has a similar set from her grandparents … both of these would have been circa 1900. Mine were from Massachusetts, hers from Michigan, so I would guess that they may have been quite common.
    Hair from a deceased person was also woven into designs (one I saw in a antique shop, i.e. not from my family, included dried flowers) and framed. Very elaborate and detailed. It appeared to be the original framing and the flowers were quite well preserved considering how old it must have been. Seems a bit ‘creepy’ now but there is probably some cultural aspect of this that I am not aware of … hmmm … something else to look up and learn! šŸ™‚

    1. Lynn, I don’t have anything like that in my family but have seen them in museums. You’re SO lucky to have them.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.