Sunday, July 27, 2014

In the Service of Our Country

So the young lieutenant returning home to Denver after the Great War was welcomed by two sisters with the right names—Florence and Regina Sullivan—but was reported to have been welcomed by the warm embrace of a mother named Katherine Sullivan. Not Julia.

I dunno…call it wishful thinking, but I’m hoping the “C” in “Julia C. Sullivan” wasn’t just there to represent her maiden name, Creahan. After yesterday’s discovery, I’m sincerely hoping that “C” was meant to stand for a middle name of Catherine—which, of course, would often be misspelled as Katherine.

I’m still in pursuit of everything that I can find about the descendants of my Kelly family from Lafayette, Indiana—including Michael and Bridget Kelly Creahan’s daughter Julia, who had moved to Denver, Colorado, sometime before her marriage there in 1888. I’ve been trying to reconstruct this family constellation, line upon line, but those efforts have been thwarted on many fronts. The minute I finally feel like I’ve found substantial evidence to connect the right Julia Sullivan with the one I knew as Julia Creahan, it seems there’s another twist in the story.

In the process of conducting this research, however, I slowly got sucked in to the story, itself. With Julia’s son Harry’s charming story splashed throughout the pages of Denver newspapers, I couldn’t help being captivated. Alright, I admit it: Harry Sullivan became my new “ooh, shiny” decoy. Whether he turns out to be family or fascinating diversion—and after yesterday’s newspaper article naming his mother as Katherine, not Julia, it isn’t looking too hopeful for the family side of the equation—I had to follow the rest of the story as it unfolded in the Denver papers.

One question was, “So where did Harry go, once he was sent ‘over there’ to fight in the Great War?” Reconstructing that record of service is not so easy, but I think I’ll be able to explain some of the details in tomorrow’s post. But for now, I’d like to share just one excerpt from a Denver Post article appearing in the January 13, 1920, edition.

The article was a two-page spread about the man of the hour, General John J. Pershing. The Post had put together the in-depth article, including personal recollections “showing the soldierly and personal side of General Pershing” by a number of Denver residents who, in service in France, had met the general personally. Among the Denver men quoted in the article was—you guessed it—Harry A. Sullivan.
            …Harry Sullivan vividly recalls the day when General Pershing inspected the 157th at Point de Loma, France, just before its departure for home.
            “It was a proud day for all of us,” says Mr. Sullivan, “when the commander-in-chief told us we were a fine looking body of men and had performed our work well, in a manner meeting all expectations.”
            “‘Now you are going home and your services as soldiers will soon cease, but you will still be in the service of our country, for you will take up the fight of good citizens, and I know you will not fail,’ he told us.
            “He has a remarkable memory. When he saw Col. Pat Hamrock, commanding the 157th, he stopped and said: ‘Where have I seen you before, colonel? Your face is familiar.’ Colonel Hamrock replied that it was out in California in 1911, and the general, shaking hands, immediately recalled the circumstances.”


  1. Oh, hope has been restored! Reading yesterday, I totally missed the possible Katherine/Catherine connection to "Julia C."

    1. Well, it is a rather twisted hope, Wendy! Can't decide whether my gut feeling is believable, or whether I should just let it go.

  2. So this may be your Harry..if the sisters names match then there must be an explanation for his mothers name too:)

    1. If this were any place beside Denver, I might have believed that was enough to justify a connection. But Denver? After all the Julia Sullivans I've found there--not to mention, Thomases and Harrys--I'm really hesitant to believe this is good enough. I'm still holding out for more...

  3. I wouldn't think Florence and Regina would be all that common a "pairing" for sisters... but statistic can't be used here except as a "guidance".

    1. That's what I was thinking, too, Iggy. But one never knows with the likes of a city like Denver...I've seen priors for doubles there, you know ;)

      I'm still holding out for some other support for my conjecture that "Katherine" was just a reporter's error. Here's hoping...


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