JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Shorpy members who are Patreon contributors get an ad-free experience! (Mostly -- there's still an ad above the comments.) Sign up or learn more.

Classic Rockers: 1900

Classic Rockers: 1900

Grosse Ile, Michigan, circa 1900. "Group at Rio Vista." The Great Lakes shipping magnate and Dime Savings Bank founder William Livingstone and family. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

About the Livingstones

I've found some information about the Livingstones.

In Bentley Historical Library, William Livingstone Papers there's a biography of William Livingstone ("A more detailed account of their family history can be found in David Sanders Clark's unpublished genealogy Notes on the Livingstone Family of Lanark, Scotland, and Detroit, Michigan and Related Families, located in the present collection").

In Young Henry Ford: a picture history of the first forty years, pages 160-2, there's more information about William Livingstone and two other photos.

In The Henry Ford, Detroit Publishing & Co you can find a photo about 1917; Livingstone wife, Susan, is second from the right (also in the photo, William Livingstone Jr., and sons William Allan and Robert Bruce Livingstone)

Same source, other photo, about 1910, William Allan Livingstone stands far left, his brother Robert Bruce Livingstone is third from the left

Suecris commented on 01/14/2011 that success of Detroit Publishing Company was based on the skill of photographer William Henry Jackson; in this two photos (same source and same source), Robert Bruce Livingstone, also a photographer, appears with William Henry Jackson.

About Seabourn, the elder of the sons in Shorpy's photo, I've found some quotations in old newspapers, here's one taken from Oswego Daily Palladium, 1918; Seabourn "returns to the sea to fight for his country."

Seabourn married Marion Henrietta Scherer in 1920 (daughter of Hugo Scherer); a photo or Marion Scherer in 1915 here; they had a son, Seabourn Scherer, and a daughter, Marion Helen.

Seabourn S. Livingstone died in 1998 at the age of 74.

Marion Helen Livingstone is Helen Livingstone Bogle, donor in 1996 of the William Livingstone Papers.

My family

William Livingstone Jr. was my great-great-grandfather and so I have quite a bit of family history and photos to draw upon. William and Susan had 8 children, plus an adopted niece. The 8 children were:

William Allan (b 1867), Margaret (b 1869), Helen Edith (b 1871), Susan Alice (b 1873), Robert Bruce (b 1875), Florence Mildred (b 1881), Seabourn Rome (b 1888), and Thomas Witherell Palmer (b 1891).

I am quite confident from family photos that the two boys are Seabourn and Palmer (as TWP was known). See the attached for another portrait of them. I'm also quite certain that neither of the ladies is Mrs. Livingstone (who was just five years younger than William) but rather they are two of her daughters. It's hard to tell which ones since they were very similar in appearance. However by 1900 Margaret (my great-grandmother) was married to James Scott, so that could be her on the left. (Their second child, my grandmother, would have been born earlier that year.) In fact this seems likely since the family history that I have indicates that Florence Mildred did not marry until 1908, and does not mention any marriage at all for the other daughters. Nor were any of the sons married in 1900 according to the family history.

The Others Might Be

The 1910 Census lists the following people in the Livingstone household:
William (66) head, Susan R (61) wife, William A (43) son, Helen E (38) daughter, Susan A (36) daughter, Robert B (34) son, Seabourn (21) son, Thomas WP (18) son.

Subtract ten years and I think we have (from left to right) unknown married woman, William NMI (56), Thomas WP (8), Seabourn (11), and Susan R (51)

Interesting names, A father and son with the same first name isn't unusual but mother and daughter with the same name is much less common. By the way, Seabourn was born at sea.

Detroit Publishing connection

I found this about the family - boys' names, at least:

Detroit Publishing Company, founded in 1895 as the Photochrom Company by the photographer Edwin Husher with backing from the Detroit financier Rudolph Demme and Colonel H. Wild of Zurich. Demme and Wild withdrew in 1896. Husher then enlisted the financial support of William Livingstone, Detroit publishing and shipping magnate, and his sons William and Robert, who expanded operations, first as the Detroit Photographic and then as the Detroit Publishing Company. Until its collapse in 1924, the company was the most important North American source of mass-produced photographs, lantern slides, postcards, and colour reproductions for business, tourism, and education. Success was based on the skill of staff photographers William Henry Jackson, Lycurgus Solon Glover, and Henry Greenwood Peabody and the exclusive American rights to the photochrom process acquired from the Photoglob Co. of Zurich.

— John V. Jezierski


Whoever the mom is they both seem quite young to be Mr. Livingstone's wife! It is quite hard to tell who is who because they all look alike in some ways. The boys have very similar features to the lady on the right (chin and mouth). I am leaning towards the lady on the right to be Mrs. Livingstone. Even though the outfit the lady on the left is wearing is quite nice, I can't imagine a banker's wife wearing anything less than the outfit on the lady on the right.

[Plus, the conventions of a pose like this would have the kids between the parents. - Dave]

Thomas Palmer Livingstone

The young boy is Thomas Palmer Livingstone, born November 1891 in Wayne County, Michigan, died 1950 in Wayne, Michigan, has a child still living.

1918 Photo

Livingstone Family

Ancestry gives the family in 1900 as William and his wife, Susan- age 51, and seven children living on Eliot Street. The two youngest (in the picture) are Seabourn and Palmer. Seabourn was born at sea according to the census record. I wonder if the other lady is either 29 year old Helen or 27 year old Susie.

Nervous? Anxious?

Look at the right hand of Mom.

Well Guess What

As I noted in a previous post the oldest son was a publisher. Well we all have to give him a great thank you.

The Detroit Publishing Company was an American photographic publishing firm best known for its large assortment of photochrom color postcards.

The company was founded as the Detroit Photographic Company in the 1890s by Detroit businessman and publisher William A. Livingstone, Jr., and photographer and photo-publisher Edwin H. Husher.


As of the 1910 census the William Livingstone family was quite a large one, living in the aforementioned house in Detroit.

William 66 head
Susan R 61 wife
William A 43 Son
Helen E 38 Daughter
Susan A 36 Daughter
Robert B 34 Son
Isabourn 21 Son
Thomas W P 18 Son

William is an owner of a publishing company and Robert is a salesman for the same company. I find it quite interesting that apparantly NONE of the children are married. Pretty unusual for that point in time. Maybe that austere face scared any potential mates away.

Wooden, you know

Studying this photo and the two other Livingstone family images triggers some observations (one mark of a good photo, I suppose):

- Are the wood walkways a clue that this substantial house is the family's river side cottage (OK, OK, river view, as it's billed), and a more traditionally built home (you know, not a boardwalk in sight) in center city Grosse Ile is where they really live?

[The family's main residence was a mansion in Detroit. - Dave]

- In the photo of the boy and dog, is the sturdy-looking apparatus in the left corner a block-and-tackle boat hoist, indicating a rather serious boat down below?

- Doesn't this look like a place where the Bobbsey twins come to visit, and the Livingstone kids wheel out their mom's fresh lemonade and cookies? Bert, of course, can't wait to get his hands on that spiffy new fishing pole leaning against the wall.


The enigmatic look on the William Livingstone's face makes this a photograph that make me exceptionally curious about the people in it and what happened to them in their lives.

It is interesting that the house was so notable that information on it can easily be found but I have had no luck finding details of the people who saw to its creation.

Which one is Mom?

The two boys certainly take after Mom. If we could only figure out who Mom was?

On closer inspection, I'm going to guess the woman on our left is Mr. Livingstone's wife. She has a wedding band on her finger, and woman on the right does not.

The Others

Interesting family and location. A cursory search in Google reveals much about William Livingstone but nothing about his handsome family. Talk about a family resemblance! I wonder if we could somehow learn the names and relationships of this group?

Gimme your best shot, Mister, we're hot!

Doesn't appear that Mr. Livingstone contributed DNA to his offspring, except maybe a bit to his youngest son; they all are clones of Mrs. Livingstone. Appears hot enough to wilt the vine, and yet the family remains composed during the long exposure time, excellent breeding, eh.

I'm Not Worthy

It's been said before, but Dave you are the Headline Master.

Syndicate content is a vintage photography site featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago. Contact us | Privacy policy | Site © 2021 Shorpy Inc.