Sunday, July 29, 2012

Census Sunday: Lillie Killeen

I don’t know why I was surprised to see my great-aunt Lillie Killeen in the 1940 Portsmouth, Virginia census living alone as the owner of the family home on Charleston Avenue.  But it makes perfect sense because her mother had died the year before.  Her sisters and brother were all married and on their own. 

Lillie Killeen at her sister Helen Parker's house
about 1969 or 1970

As long as I knew Lillie, she lived in an apartment; it never occurred to me that she ever owned a house. Now I’m wondering whether she was THE owner or merely the only owner-occupant possibly sharing ownership with her brother and sisters as inheritors of the home, valued at $2800 in 1940.  And then when and why was the house later sold?  Just curious.  Maybe it was just too much house and too many expenses for a single lady with a meager income.

from the photo album of Helen Parker
about 1918-20

Lillie had completed only six years of school. She was fully employed and earned $700 in 1939, and she worked 40 hours the last week of March 1940 as a “nurse” in a doctor’s office.  She was really the secretary in charge of scheduling appointments and taking payments, but she wore a white uniform and accompanied the doctor when he was examining a female patient. Nothing like keeping it legit.

Click to enlarge

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Love those big old houses. And only $2800. Wow! Then again for someone making $700 a year that was a big investment.

    Wrote By Rote

  2. Yeah, Daddy had hard feelings about Aunt Lil and Matt Killeen coming in and selling the house and contents. He said it was the worse day of his life when his Grandma died =(

    I'm sure it was way too much for Lil.