Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Mary Ridgely Brown Lee (1881-1922)
MSA SC 3520-2226
Official Hostess of Maryland, 1895-1896

Photographs from MSA SC 778:

These photographs were found, unlabelled, in the Frank Brown Collection [MSA SC 778], which houses an assortment of letters, newspaper clippings, papers, and photographs from the Brown family. I consulted the Director of Photography of the Maryland State Archives, and we compared the photographs in question with a precatalogued picture of Mary Brown Lee as a child, pictures of Mrs. Lee from newspaper clippings, and a precatalogued picture of her mother, Mary Preston Brown. The facial structures of the portrait photograph shown with the biographical profile and the women in the following pictures appear close enough to identical to suggest that they are the same woman. The dress in the portrait photograph is typical of the time period around 1910, a time that Mrs. Preston Brown would not have lived to see. Though it is difficult to compare the facial structure of a child with that of an adult, the child's structure appeared closer to Mrs. Lee than to Mrs. Brown. The shape of the eyes further supported the connection between the portrait of the child, Mary Ridgely Brown, and the later pictures of Mary Ridgely Brown Lee. The man in the following pictures appears to be Merwyn Ketcham Lee, Mary's third husband, when compared to a newspaper picture of him at the time of their wedding. This is further supported by the fact that a series of photographs, which appear to have been taken around the same time, based on the type of film and appearance of picture, were found in an envelope from the Homestead Pharmacy in Hot Springs, VA., dated June 12, 1920. Mary and Merwyn took their honeymoon in Hot Springs in June 1920. These may be pictures from that honeymoon. The man dressed in a white serving suit in the third picture may be Samuel Distance, a servant of Mary Lee during these last years of her life. She left him one thousand dollars in her will.

  Mary Ridgely Brown Lee                             Merwyn Ketchum Lee

Mary Lee and Samuel Distance

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