Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Back to School with the Livingstons

Did your parents ever say that you would be the first to attend college in your family? I knew I wasn't the first on my dad's side but I was curious to see who on my mother's side could claim that title. Of course fate would have it that I would find proof that not one but TWO of my great grand-uncles attended Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC way back in the late 1800s. Claflin is the oldest Historic Black College & University (HBCU) in the state of South Carolina. Claflin celebrates its 145th year in existence with the theme "Celebrating Traditions, Pursuing Transformative Change." I like their Twitter hashtag as well: #AverageIsOverGo Panthers!! 

Claflin University was founded in 1869 and its mission was to educate freedmen and prepare them with skills as full citizens. Their standard college courses included English, geometry and physics. On March 12, 1872 the College of Agriculture and Mechanics' Institute for Colored Students was created with an 116 acre experimental farm. There, students learned trades such as surveying, steam engineering, bricklaying, carpentry, nursing, tailoring and domestics. If you completed the standard college courses you received a diploma. If you completed the rudimentary English courses and learned a trade you received a certificate. 

Grant Livingston b. 1870 and Samuel Livingston b. 1872 were both sons of Jace and Dorcas Livingston from Liberty Township in Orangeburg County, SC.  In 1880, both sons attended school but Grant couldn't write. These two were the only ones that could read. Their parents were both illiterate and the other children were too young for school. It is not known how much education they received from public school but they probably left to help their parents on the farm. 

Once they reached their late teens, both young men went to college to learn a trade.

Samuel and Grant Livingston were named as students in the 1889 - 1890 Claflin University Annual Catalog. They attended sewing/tailoring classes that year. 

From 1890 to 1891, Grant and Samuel Livingston were enrolled in the Third Grade English Curriculum at Claflin University.  

Courses include:
Reading — Fourth Reader. 
Arithmetic, Multiplication, Division, etc., to Fractions. 
Geography — United States to South America. 
Language — Language Lessons. 
Science — Physiology (Elementary.) 
Religious Instructions daily. 

In 1891, Grant was enrolled in Carpentry and Painting. Samuel took Blacksmithing as a skilled trade. 

By 1900, Samuel was a married father of three with his wife Frances b. 1877 and 
grandmother Adella b. 1830 in his household located in Union Township of Orangeburg. His occupation was farmer. The later censuses said he had a 4th grade education. Grant 
became a longshoreman, married Lula Aiken b. 1880 and had several children in 
Charleston, SC. He spent most of his time out at sea throughout the years. 

It is not known if they received their certificates for the trades they studied or actually used 
those skills professionally. 

In our Livingston-Wilkinson Family Gathering Souvenir Booklets we normally have a 
page that lists all our University Graduates, next time I will petition to have Grant and Sam's names added as the FIRST of our family to attend college. 


  1. Here is a connect to more Livingstons. I would like to learn if--and how-- we are related.

    1. that depends on where your Livingstons are from Deborah. Mine are from Orangeburg, the town of Cope in particular.

  2. Hi Wayne. I am the great grand daughter of Doctor Livingston. Nice to meet you, cousin. So glad to find this blog. It is truly amazing. Really excellent work. I have been an on and off family researcher for a few years. It was truly a delight finding this blog and I look forward to keeping in touch. Thank you for this!