Thursday, July 10, 2014

High Finance in the Mile High City

What can be found about a Julia Sullivan who claimed to be a capitalist in Denver at the turn of the last century? Too much, it turns out.

I turned to the local newspapers to see what reports might have been published about our Kelly descendant, Julia Creahan, who claimed such a lofty occupation for herself.

For some reason, Julia had left her hometown of Lafayette, Indiana, to live in Denver, Colorado. Somewhere along the line—although where is not yet entirely apparent—she met and married a man by the frustratingly common name of Thomas Sullivan, who then stepped out of the picture after the couple’s arrival in the Centennial State.

If the 1900 census declared Julia Sullivan to be a capitalist, then surely some report in a local newspaper would reflect that feminine financial prowess, I figured. I was rewarded for that hunch when I found a small announcement buried on page eleven of The Daily News in the business section of the March 25, 1898, edition.
Julia L. Sullivan yesterday transferred to the Julia L. Real Estate, Loan and Investment company several lots in West Elyria, Harman’s subdivision and a tract of farming land. The consideration named was $50,000. The company has recently been incorporated and Mrs. Sullivan turned her properties into it.

Lest you find $50,000 to be a trivial amount, let me remind you—by way of my favorite online inflation calculator—that that amount would be the equivalent of $1,388,888.89 in today’s dollars. Not bad for a widowed mother of four living in a rented home in Denver.

Oh, I get it—the home must have been owned by Julia’s trust fund. Silly me.

With a one-time transaction such as this, surely Julia’s financial dealings would be mentioned more than once in the Denver newspapers.

They were. Highlighted within a two-page diatribe about the “victims” of a local real estate mogul by name of Sullivan was this entry in the July 13, 1902 Denver Post:
Of late years nearly all Sullivan’s transactions have been in the name of “Julia Investment company,” named for his wife, Julia Clise Sullivan. She is practically the company, and as trustee he does all the business. It is not generally known among his creditors that the “Julia” is not incorporated in this state.

Oh. Apparently, the “C” in this Julia’s name did not stand for “Creahan.”

Come to find out, this Julia’s husband was known about town as A. B. Sullivan—the “A” standing for Augustus, according to a sidebar to the 1902 diatribe—not Thomas. If “Julia Investment Company” were one and the same as “Julia L. Real Estate, Loan and Investment Company,” we might safely have assumed that this capitalist was not our Julia Sullivan.

However, Julia C. and Julia L. may not necessarily have been the same woman. Come to find out, there was yet another Julia Sullivan in town—another one with considerable holdings of her own.

Above: Photograph of Denver, Colorado, looking northwest from the steps of the state capitol in 1898—the same year as Julia L. Sullivan's $50,000 Denver real estate transaction was recorded; courtesy United States Library of Congress via Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. Just when you think you've found a UNIQUE clue . . . .

    1. Really! And here I thought I had a chance with a name like Julia...apparently it was more popular than I thought.

  2. Darn I hope you find the right Julia:)

  3. Hard saying if this is the "right" Julie or not, but I looked at where "West Elyria" was located and found that it is very near the Denver Coliseum and the Riverside Cemetery. Today, it appears to be largely covered by the "Denver Rock Island Railroad" rail yard. Despite the name, I think the railroad involved is actually the Union Pacific.

    1. Interesting. I wonder how long the Riverside Cemetery has been there--and what the history of the rail yard was. I'm thinking the original railroad was bought out by, eventually, Union Pacific.

      I'm pretty sure this wasn't the right Julia, though. Just amazed how many there were in that town, all involved with large land holdings. Well, maybe all ;)

      Perhaps our Julia just had a really strange sense of humor...

  4. Oh, Jacqi, I really enjoyed reading about Julia's saga. And thank you so much for the Inflation calculator site link. My husband will really think I'm in the know! Pat

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Pat. I'm glad you found the link useful. It does come in handy at times.

      I really appreciated your own post on the Irish in Chicago, by the way. I'll be following up on those resources you mentioned, since I'm also researching that area.


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