Plum Street Series

Linn Family

William Linn was born in Glasgow, Scotland in November 1788. He married Jean (or Jane) Ralston on October 29, 1814. They had 7 children that I know of: William, Alexander, Caroline, Thomas, Robert, Janette, and James. The family belonged to the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. In 1838, Alexander Linn and his sister Caroline became friends with Helen Lambie and began attending services at the Methodist church with her. In 1839, Alexander became a member of the Scotch Baptist church because he had begun to believe in immersion for baptism. He and Helen joined and were baptized and the rest of the Linns also joined. In 1840, however, Caroline Linn left the Baptists and started attending the Disciples of Christ meeting in Glasgow. She was 19 at the time and walked the 7 miles to the meeting each way each Sunday. This is where she met her future husband, Colin Campbell.

William and Jean Linn and their children Alexander (with his wife and 10-month-old son), Caroline (with her husband and son), Thomas, Robert, and Janette left Scotland and arrived in New York on August 2, 1842 on the ship Wandsworth.

More about William and Jean’s 7 children:

  • William (b. 6/27/1815) – married Ann Margaret Munn on June 1, 1840 in Paisley, Scotland. In the 1841 Scottish census, they were living in Paisley with a 3-month-old son, William Campbell Linn. He did not emigrate to America in 1842 like the rest of his family. In the 1861 census, they lived in Govan (now part of Glasgow) with children William, now 20, Margaret, aged 11, and Caroline, aged 7. William Sr. worked in the upholstery business. In the 1871 census, William was an upholsterer and trimming manufacturer, employing 4 men and 40 women. He was also listed as a Church of Christ pastor and all 3 children still lived with them. In the 1881 census, William, his wife, and daughter Margaret were living in Kinning Park, Glasgow. William Sr. died before the 1901 census, but his wife, aged 86, was living in Govan with her unmarried daughter Margaret, her married daughter Caroline, her son-in-law William Crockatt, and their 6 children.
  • Alexander (b. 4/26/1818) – married Helen Lambie on July 2, 1840 in Paisley, Scotland.
  • Caroline (b. 1/12/1821) – married Colin Campbell about 1840 in Scotland (more about him in another post).
  • Thomas (b. 5/24/1826) – married Annie Stanbery in about 1868 in New York. She was a cousin of George Gourlay’s wife Maria Stanbery.
  • Robert (b. 2/14/1830) – married Jessie Craig Blackie on June 28, 1858 in St. Clair County, Michigan.
  • Janette (b. 4/20/1832) – married Charles A. Lorman (also featured in a separate post) on December 24, 1858 in Detroit.
  • James (?)

From New York, the Linn family moved to Detroit and began meeting with the Hawley family on Sundays. In the 1850 U.S. census, William and Jean Linn were living in Detroit with their daughter Caroline and her husband Colin Campbell and their 3 children. William’s children Janette (18) and Thomas (26) were also living with them. In 1854, Charles A. Lorman was baptized by Alexander Linn (Lorman would marry Janette in 1858). William, the patriarch, died on August 17, 1860 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery. His wife Jean died on May 20, 1877.

The rest of this post will mostly deal with William and Jean’s sons Alexander, Thomas, and Robert.


Alexander and his wife Helen came to New York on August 2, 1842 with their 10-month-old son Alexander. In the 1850 census, Alexander and Helen were living with the J.F. Johnson family in Detroit and had 3 children: Alexander (8), William (6), and Jane (3). Alex was listed as a pine oil maker. In about 1854, Alexander and his family, along with his brother Robert, moved to Marine City, Michigan. Alexander preached at various churches including Marine City’s, Brockway, Algonac, and Ionia. Back in Detroit by 1862, Alexander worked at Duncan Stewart and also as a cashier at his brother Thomas’ store, “Campbell & Linn.” In 1863, Alexander and Helen’s sons Alexander R. and William F. Linn opened “A.R. & W.F. Linn,” a company that sold tea, coffee, and spices.

A.R. & W.F. Linn at Jefferson and Shelby Avenues, c1881
from Detroit Public Library Burton Historical Collection

Children of Alexander Linn and Helen Lambie

ALEXANDER R. – born in 1841 in Scotland. He married Janette Craig (sister of James Gourlay’s wife Jean) in about 1865. They had 3 daughters: Katherine Campbell Linn (7/25/1868-5/27/1965), Helen Gourlay Linn (8/6/1871-2/7/1940), and Jeanette (Nettie) Linn (b. 9/7/1874, d. 1/18/1887 of diptheria). His wife Janette died on Dec. 26, 1875 of consumption. In 1880, A.R. lived with his 3 daughters, and James Gourlay and his wife were boarding with them. In about 1882, he remarried to Ella Levington and had a daughter born in 1884 named Marguerite Gray Linn. In 1930, Alex was a widow living with his 2 unmarried daughters, Katherine and Helen, in Cleveland, Ohio. He died at the age of 90 on October 2, 1932.
WILLIAM F. – born in 1844 in Michigan. He married Ella Lyman in about 1874. In the 1880 census, they lived on Howard Street in Detroit. In the 1900 census, William and Ella were living on Vinewood Avenue with an adopted daughter named Hazel Draine who was 14. He died May 28, 1904 in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Ella died in Los Angeles in 1931.
JANE ANDERSON – born Nov. 30, 1847 in Detroit. She married Edward H. Patterson on Dec. 28, 1870. They had 2 daughters, Helen (b. 1871) and Susan (b. 1873). They attended Plum St. Church of Christ. Edward was an undertaker in the firm of “Latimer & Patterson.” In the 1890s, he was an alderman in Detroit’s 4th ward. He died July 12, 1914 at his home “a few hours before a telegram arrived asking him to notify Mrs. C. A. Lorman [Jane’s aunt]…of the death of her grandson, Welwood Murray, in an automobile accident in Seattle, Washington” (Detroit Free Press, 7/13/1914). Jane died on 1/27/1930.
COLIN – born April 18, 1851. He worked as a clerk in the early 1870s and died on February 15, 1873 in Detroit of lockjaw.
CAROLINE HELEN – born January 1857, married Alexander Anderson Trout on February 24, 1881 in Detroit. Alexander was involved in the Plum Street mission at 14th and Ash Streets in 1882-1884. They had one son, Alexander Linn Trout, on February 2, 1886. A. A. Trout died on January 1, 1888 at the age of 35. A. L. Trout was a captain in the Engineering Corps of the U.S. Army during World War I. He wrote a letter to his mother that was published in the Detroit Free Press on Sept. 22, 1918, in which he discussed a Red Cross hospital in France. In the late 1920s, he worked for the firm Malcomson & Higginbotham. Caroline died on April 8, 1944.
THOMAS S. – born Jan. 1, 1862. The 9/7/1884 Free Pess detailed a surprise going-away party thrown for him at Caroline & Alexander Trout’s home. Thomas was leaving the next Monday for the west. “During the evening, Mr. James Sanderson in behalf of his gentlemen friends presented him with an elegantly bound Bible.” Many family members and friends from Plum Street were also guests, including Mrs. Helen Linn [mother], Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Trout [sister & bro-in-law], Mr. and Mrs. William Linn [brother & sis-in-law], Mrs. J. A. Patterson [sister], Sarah Mickleborough [Alexander Malcomson’s 1st wife], Cora and Nellie Long [from Plum St.], Flora Belle Lorman [cousin], Nellie and Susie Patterson [nieces], Edward H. Patterson [bro-in-law], Charles A. Lorman [uncle], Alexander Malcomson [from Plum St.], Allen Murray [son of Lilly Gourlay, later married Thoma’s cousin Jean Lorman], Robert Lambie [grandmother’s nephew], and James Sanderson [son of John Gray’s sister Isabella].

In January 1868, the Linn and Lorman group that split from Colin Campbell’s group started meeting for church at the Detroit Ice Company (owned by Lorman). In February 1868, the church of Christ bought 2 lots at the southwest corner of Fourth and Plum streets for $1800. From 1870 to his death, Alexander Linn devoted much of his time to the Plum Street Church. In the 1880 census, Alexander, his wife, daughter Caroline, and son Thomas were living at 364 Abbott St. Alexander died April 9, 1882 of “debility from old age.” He was nearly 64 years old. According to his niece, Caroline Campbell, “When Uncle Aleck died, his hand was in my mother’s in spite of church difficulties. He asked my mother to recite a hymn.” (daughter “Tina” Campbell’s letter dated July 1932 – from His wife Helen died August 10, 1902 at the home of their daughter Jane.


Thomas Linn was 16 years old when his family emigrated from Scotland to America in 1842. He worked as a trader in Northern Michigan for his brother-in-law Colin Campbell’s business, “Campbell & Jack.” In 1848, Thomas and Colin opened the “Campbell & Linn” Dry Goods Store (aka the “Scotch Store”) at the corner of Jefferson and Woodward Avenues. There was a fire in 1858 and the store moved to the corner of Woodward and Congress.

Campbell & Linn at Jefferson and Woodward, c1856
from Detroit Public Library Burton Historical Collection
Business card for Campbell & Linn at Congress and Woodward
from Detroit Public Library Burton Historical Collection

Thomas attended the Central Christian Church. In 1868, he married Annie Stanbery, who was born on October 18, 1834 in New York City. Their son Robert was born November 20, 1869. In 1871, Thomas and Colin’s partnership ended, and Thomas started “Linn & Stanbery” with Annie’s brother John. They sold millinery, dress goods, undergarments and other items at 154 Woodward Avenue. That business lasted until 1876. In the 1880 census, Thomas, Annie, and Robert were boarding at physician Benjamin Stone’s house. In the late 1880s, Thomas and family moved to 38 W. Adams on the corner of Park in Detroit.

38 W. Adams on left, photographed in July 1906
from Detroit Public Library Burton Historical Collection

Thomas started working as a floor manager at Newcomb, Endicott, & Co. in about 1880 and retired in 1897. Upon his retirement, he received an inscribed gold watch with a chain from the firm, a leather easy chair from the employees of the 2nd floor, and a gold-headed cane from those on the 1st floor (Detroit Free Press, Aug. 1, 1897). Thomas’ son Robert Stanbery Linn became a physician and joined the army as a surgeon during the Spanish-American War. In the early June 1900 census, he was living with his parents and two servants at 38 W. Adams. In the summer of 1900, Robert went to China as an army surgeon. On August 11, 1903, Robert married Alice MacLay in Glen Falls, New York and they had a daughter named Marian in June 12, 1904. On August 26, 1909, Thomas Linn died at his son’s house at 594 Cass Avenue. He was buried in Elmwood Cemetery. Annie lived with her son and his family during the 1910 census. She died on April 6, 1912. Robert died on June 18, 1941.

Dr Robert Stanbery Linn
Robert Stanbery Linn, son of Thomas and Annie Linn from Find-a-Grave


After his marriage in 1858 to Jessie Craig Blackie, they lived in Brownstown in the 1860 U.S. census. At that time, Robert was a merchant with $5000 in real estate and $4600 in personal estate. In the June 1863 draft registration, Robert was still a merchant in Brownstown. In November 1866, he was appointed a U.S. Postmaster in Gibraltar. Robert was a shipbuilder in Gibraltar.

In 1866, Robert formed the shipbuilding company “Linn & Craig” with John Craig, who was the brother of Jean/Mrs. James Gourlay and Jeanette/Mrs. Alex R. Linn. You may remember Alexander R. Linn was Robert’s nephew. They worked together through the 1870s building ships of wood. Some of their ships were named after friends and relatives, like the Colin Campbell, theĀ Annie L. Craig, and theĀ Jessie Linn. John left the partnership because he had begun wanting to build steel hulled ships. Robert continued the business until about 1892. John Craig established his shipyard in Gibraltar, then moved to Trenton, Michigan in 1883. He then moved on to Toledo, Ohio in 1888. Eventually, John Craig retired from the Craig Shipbuilding Company, and it was found that Toledo was now too small. His son John F. Craig moved the company to Long Beach, California in 1906.

Robert Linn and his wife Jessie had 4 daughters: Annie Ella, born on August 5, 1863; Lillian, born July 8, 1865; Caroline Campbell, born January 17, 1870; and Flora Ralston, born March 1, 1875. Around 1890, the family moved to Detroit and attended Central Christian Church. Lillian married Edward Waterfall on October 31, 1894 in Detroit. They had a daughter named Jessie C. Waterfall on October 7, 1897. The rest of Robert’s daughters never married. Robert’s wife Jessie died of heart trouble on July 19, 1896. Robert died on Sept. 16, 1900 at his home at 514 Cass Ave. Around 1903, Caroline became an elementary school teacher in Escanaba, Michigan. Flora also became a teacher, but in the Detroit Public School system.

Picture of
Gravestone of Robert W. Linn in Detroit’s Elmwood Cemetery
from Find-A-Grave

Annie Ella was admitted to the Ypsilanti State Hospital on Christmas Eve 1931. She died there on May 22, 1934 at the age of 70. Lillian died at the home of her daughter in Highland Park on December 9, 1933. Caroline died on November 20, 1934 in Escanaba and was buried there. Flora died on July 5, 1937 and was buried with her sister Caroline in Escanaba.


Plum Street Series

Gourlay Brothers

Robert Gourlay was born in 1792 in Fifeshire, Scotland. His first wife’s maiden name was Cameron and they had 3 children, William, Thomas, and Sarah. Robert married Helen Lawson on October 22, 1822 in Edinburgh, Scotland. They had two daughters, Margaret and Lilly Ann, and three sons, George, James, and Alfred – who would become the owners of “Gourlay Brothers” in Detroit in the 1870s. Margaret was born July 26, 1829 and died in Detroit on March 8, 1918. George was born January 7, 1834 and died December 8, 1900 in Detroit. Lilly Ann was born December 31, 1835. She died May 17, 1860 in New York City. James was born December 3, 1837 and died November 19, 1919 in Detroit. Alfred was born July 31, 1845 and died in Detroit on March 5, 1930.

Robert Gourlay’s children with his first wife:

WILLIAM – born 1815 in Edinburgh. He was a popular comedian and actor, playing roles in Scotland, England, Australia, and America. He married Louisa J. Ryder on Oct. 25, 1841 and had 6 children – Ellen, Jessie, Robert, Corbet, John, and Alice. With his second wife, Susan, William had 2 more children, Minnie and William. The whole family was involved in the theatre. In 1866-1869, he and the family traveled to Australia. He visited New Zealand in 1874 with his collection of curiosities. In the summer of 1880, the Gourlay family made their last stage appearance in Newcastle, England. They presented Mrs. MacGregor’s Levee on July 26-27, 1880.
THOMAS – born 1820 in Edinburgh. He was also an actor. He and daughters Jeannie and Margaret were in the cast of “Our American Cousin” the night Lincoln was assassinated. Apparently, Jeannie had just left the stage when the shot was fired. According to a Feb. 3, 1968 article in The Pocono Record, Thomas covered Lincoln with a flag from the theater and helped to carry Lincoln to a house across the street. The flag is currently at the Pike County Historical Society’s The Columns Museum.

The cast from Our American Cousin the night of April 14, 1865

In the 1841 Scotland census, Robert’s family was living at 219 High Street in Edinburgh where Robert was a tailor. Robert died before the 1851 census, in which the family was still living at the same address. Helen was a draper and her sons George and James were draper’s assistants. In May 1855, Lilly Gourlay married George Welwood Murray in Edinburgh. The next year, Helen and her children left Scotland for New York. George Murray, Lilly, and their son George came in July 1858. In the 1860 U.S. Census, taken on June 5th, Helen and her three sons were living in New York City. George and James were clerks and Alfred was a compositor (a typesetter). Next to Helen lived her son-in-law George W. Murray, his sons George (4 years old) and James Alan (11 months), and Helen’s daughter Margaret. Sadly, Lilly Ann had died the previous month.

On October 21, 1866, James Gourlay married Jean F. Craig in Manhattan. On August 9, 1868, they placed membership at the Plum Street Church of Christ in Detroit. On January 15, 1869, George Gourlay married Maria Stanbery in New York. In the 1870 U.S. Census, Helen and her children Margaret and Alfred were still living in New York City. James and Jean were living in Detroit where James worked in a tailor shop. In the May 8, 1870 Detroit Free Press, an advertisement for Baxter & Gourlay, “fashionable merchant tailors” from New York, stated that they had just opened a store at 156 Jefferson Avenue. On May 1, 1873, Baxter & Gourlay dissolved. Baxter stayed at the Jefferson Ave. store and James occupied a store next to the Detroit Opera House. In 1875, Alfred Gourlay (who had married Laura Andruss in 1872) joined his brother in Detroit and Gourlay Brothers was formed. Their brother George joined them in Detroit in 1878 (I think his wife Maria never joined him in Detroit and stayed in New York with her parents until George divorced her for desertion in 1893). The brothers all joined the Plum Street Church of Christ and were “noted for their musical ability.” According to Boyd, William B. Thompson, ex-mayor of Detroit, used to stand outside the church building and listen to the singing (p. 106).

In 1875, James’ wife Jean went to Scotland with a bunch of her lady friends. According to the Paw Paw, Michigan newspaper The True Northerner for May 7, 1875, “A party of Detroit ladies will shortly leave their hubands, and unaccompanied by any male protector, will proceed to Scotland to see their relatives and recruit their health. The names of the party are: Mrs. A. R. Linn [Jeanette Craig, Jean’s sister], Mrs. John Harvey [Jessie G. Campbell, daughter of Colin Campbell & Caroline Linn], Mrs. James Gourlay [Jean F. Craig], Mrs. C. A. Lorman [Janette Linn, Caroline’s sister], and Miss Emma Haywood [Emma Hayward, John S. Gray’s sister-in-law].” In October 1875, the Plum Street Church of Christ’s Literary Society elected John S. Gray as president, James Gourlay as vice-president, and Alfred Gourlay as secretary.

According to the Detroit Free Press (8-14-1904), in 1876 at the Gourlay Brothers store, “one of the first illuminated signs in Detroit appeared, formed of gas jets. Of course, it attracted a good deal of attention, and, curiously enough, on the first night the jets were lighted, the sign did not work well and it read as follows: ‘Gourlay’s Shirt tore.'”

John Gourlay, nephew of the Gourlay Brothers

John was the son of William Gourlay, the half-brother of James, George, and Alfred. He became an actor and comedian like his father, beginning at 4 years old. He went with his father to Australia in 1866. He joined a group called The Salsbury Troubadours in America and toured with them in Australia and New Zealand in 1878. Later he joined with comedian Louis Harrison and toured with him for five years. He often visited his uncles in Detroit in the 1870s and 1880s. He married his Australian wife Hannah Lambert in August 1884 in Detroit. The reception was held at Alfred Gourlay’s home at 647 2nd Avenue. In 1887, they returned to Australia, where John continued his career.

In an 1893 article featuring John’s reminiscences, he recounted a story about him and his brother Robert: “We had been separated from childhood, for 16 years. When I was in Chicago I received a telegram from an uncle in business in Detroit, saying that Bob was with him, but was just then in Chicago on business. I took train from Chicago, and Bob sat beside me in the carriage. Neither of us know the other, and Bob proved to be a young man of very taking proclivities. He smoked most of my cigars, and, as the weather was cold, took my overcoat, and wound up by borrowing fifty cents. I found he was well known to the police, for when we arrived at a station near Detroit a policeman called out, ‘Hello, Gourlay!’ I got up and looked out of the carriage window, and he did the same. ‘What,’ I said, ‘is your name Gourlay?’ ‘It is,’ he said. Business, fraternal embrace. As Bob and I are both Scotch, I made him return the fifty cents.”

Of George, James, and Alfred Gourlay, only Alfred had children. He and Laura had a daughter and a son – Helen Lawson Gourlay (1873-1960), who married Vernon C. Fry, and Charles A. Gourlay (1879-1963). In the 1880 census, James and Jean were boarding with Alexander R. Linn and his family. James’ mother Helen died September 15, 1880 in Detroit and was buried in Woodmere Cemetery. In 1884, James Gourlay became a deacon at Plum Street Church of Christ and an elder in 1897.

Advertisements for Gourlay Bros., Linn Bros., and Lorman’s ice company from the “Report of Proceedings of the Michigan Christian Missionary Association at the 16th Annual Meeting held in Detroit, October 4-5, 1884”

In the June 1, 1900 U.S. Census, James and Jean Gourlay were living at 649 (now 3747) 2nd Avenue with George Gourlay and a servant named Anna Mitchell. James’ and George’s occupation was “gents furnisher.” Alfred (also a “gents furnisher”), Laura and their children Helen and Charles were living in the two-family house at 647 (now 3745) 2nd Avenue. Margaret Gourlay, Alfred’s sister, was also living with him. Around this time, the store moved to 153 Woodward Avenue (now 1059).

James Gourlay built this house in Detroit, now at 3745-3747 2nd Ave., in 1880
Gourlay Brothers sign on the left, at 153 (1059) Woodward Avenue in 1909, between Michigan and State Streets – from Burton Historical Collection at the Detroit Public Library

George Gourlay, who acted as manager of Gourlay Brothers, died on Saturday, December 8, 1900 at 7 AM at his brother James’ house, where he had been living. The 12/9/1900 Free Press said that George “had left the store in unusual spirits Friday evening, and his jovial and splendid disposition was in evidence, as with his usual pleasantry he joked with the men in the store.” He had been a president of the Detroit Musical Society and had sung before President Lincoln. His funeral was at Plum Street Church of Christ and he was buried in Woodmere Cemetery.

george gourlay
George Gourlay

In 1901, James Gourlay declared bankruptcy with a debt of $23,096.97 and assets of $15,582. His house and $216 in personal assets were exempt. He stated that his petition had nothing to do with Gourlay Brothers (Detroit Free Press, 3/9/1901). In August 1904, James retired from Gourlay Brothers, while his brother Alfred continued the company at 153 Woodward Avenue.

In the 1910 census, James and Alfred and their wives were living at 647 2nd Ave. Margaret, their sister, was living with Alfred and Laura. Laura died on December 8, 1911 at the age of 59 of mitral regurgitation. Jean Gourlay died on July 18, 1916 of hemipligia, which is paralysis on one side of the body. Margaret died on March 8, 1918 at the age of 88 of senility and old age.

Alfred Gourlay remarried on September 3, 1919 in London, Ontario to Mary Talbot. James died November 19, 1919 after six months of “senility of cerebral arteries.” His funeral was held at Plum Street and he was buried in Woodmere Cemetery. He was an elder at Plum Street for many years and was a choir leader. In the 1920 census, Alfred was still living at 647 2nd Avenue. He was listed as married, but Mary was not enumerated with him. His niece, Sara Gourlay, who was his half-brother William’s youngest child. She was 64, while Alfred was 75. Sara had been a nurse in Battle Creek, Michigan for many years. Alfred, at the time living at 1494 Virginia Park in Detroit, died on March 5, 1930 of cerebral apoplexy at the age of 84. His wife Mary was the informant on the death certificate. He was buried in Woodmere Cemetery with his first wife Laura.


[George Gourlay obituary]. (January 10, 1901). The Christian Evangelist, v. 38(2), page 50.

Boyd, R. Vernon. A History of the Stone-Campbell Churches in Michigan, 2009.

“Thirty-six years on the stage.” Star (Christchurch), Issue 4750, September 16, 1893, page 1.