Saturday, June 30, 2012


     Just typing the name "Sullivan" in relation to St. Thomas gives me a headache.  I once tried to figure out all the Sullivans and I'm not sure it is possible for an outsider!!
     The following information is from the Le Sueur News Herald of May 8th, 1940.  It is from a column called "Our Neighbors--" by J. H. Sellie.
When I began looking up material for this paper one of my Irish friends suggested that I drive over to St. Thomas and have a talk with Mr. and Mrs. Jim Sullivan.  I did so and found them a most interesting and delightful old couple, whose memories were apparently good and whose minds were full of old stories about the early days in the settlement.  Mr. Sullivan is 82 and his wife 78.  They live in a little cottage on the edge of the cemetery.  The outside of their house is most unpretentious but the inside is cozy and comfortable. 
Mrs. Sullivan was cutting up seed potatoes and her husband was out making the rows into which the potatoes were to be planted. When I began my interview Mrs. Sullivan offered to call her husband saying with wifely pride and loyalty, "He knows so much more than I do."  She looked out and said, "He is only resting and might as well do it in the house". He came and we had a delightful hour.  Information? Well yes, enough for the start of a book.  Book-writer, there is a gold mine for you.
Like so many of the St. Thomas pioneers, Mr. Sullivan's father lived in Pennsylvania for awhile before he, in 1857, came to Minnesota.  The mother of my new-found friend, before marriage was Ellen Hennesey.  James Sullivan Sr. was the first to be buried in the St. Thomas Cemetery.  Mrs. Sullivan's maiden name was Catherine Regan, the daughter of another old settler. They were the parents of seven children three of whom died and the four living had long since left the parental domicile to set up homes of their own. 
 There was a picture of a fine looking man on the wall and, thinking that it perhaps this was the picture of one of their children, I asked who he was and was told that it was Father John C. Abbott who has a parish near Minneapolis.  They said that this young man was born in Le Sueur and was the son of John C. Abbott who used to live in Le Sueur.  Father Abbott is a nephew of Mr. and Mrs. Jim Sullivan of St. Thomas.  They were proud of relating this fact. 
 On one side of the cottage was the cemetery and on the other, a little way back, were the stores, the school house and the filling stations. I could not but reflect that in a short time these old people would be carried a few feet into the cemetery there to rest beside their old friends and neighbors, but other people would come to buy gas for cars in which to carry their children to church and the school house and few would ever think of Jim Sullivan and Catherine Regan and many others who had made these blessings a reality. 
Some people in America have claimed, with how much truth I cannot say, that the Irish women would rather dance than darn the socks of their menfolks and that the Irishmen would rather drive a fast horse or car, on the road than plow their fields and that sometimes, when they had had a little too strong drink, or too much of some that was not so strong, they were quick to fight. Maybe so they had their faults, of course and so had the other nationalities too.  We all have them, but not the same ones.  The Irish have made their contribution to the life in Le Sueur  county.  But for the Irish songs, stories and wit we would all be the poorer. 


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