As the family of a different Julia Sullivan bid their mother a final goodbye at the Logan Avenue Chapel in Denver, apparently another Julia Sullivan was waiting in the wings to make her appearance in local newspapers. Chalk this one up as yet another genealogical research woe of historical newspapers when it comes to researching ancestors with fairly common names.
Still seeking whatever information I could find on the Julia Creahan Sullivan who had left her childhood home in Lafayette, Indiana, in the 1880s to move—married or unmarried—to Denver, Colorado, the more I searched, the more I seemed to brush up against her doubles in town.
I’m not sure the term doppelgänger had yet attained its in-vogue status.
After discovering the reference to the chapel on Logan Avenue for the grief-stricken Julia, widow of the wrong husband (Stephen J.), perhaps I had been sensitized to the reference to “Logan” in conjunction with “Sullivan.” Besides, after the tell-all obituary for the Sullivan heiress, one could not escape knowing about her “nervous breakdown” and lingering illness.
I couldn’t help divulging an unkind wry smile upon spotting this headline in the Denver Post:
Mrs. J. Sullivan Gives Details of SufferingNow Feels That Her Trouble is Entirely Eliminated by Use of New Tonic
See for yourself how well the narrative fit the unfortunate Julia Sullivan’s scenario:
When seen recently at her home, 18 Logan street, city, Mrs. Julia Sullivan spoke interestingly regarding her experience with the new tonic “Tona Vita,” now being introduced in Denver by specialists sent here for that purpose.Mrs. Sullivan said: “I have been sick for a long time, during which I have tried all kinds of doctors. Besides that, I took every medicine that I thought would do me any good. I am one of those that want to enjoy life and be happy, but I know that without good health that is an impossibility. Neither the doctors’ treatments or the medicines that I took gave me any relief and I was beginning to give up hope….
Of course, this article post-dated the 1907 passing of the false Julia Sullivan, appearing in the paper on May 9, 1912. It served only to add yet another Julia to the mix. (See? I warned you.)
Frustration over all these reports of other Julia Sullivans drove me to the Denver city directories. After all, while Denver in the early 1900s was nowhere near the size it is today, it was home to almost 134,000 people at the time of the 1900 census. Granted, the city’s population increased by another twenty five percent by the time of the subsequent census, so there was certainly room for more than one woman by the name of Julia Sullivan. I began to wonder just how many that might be.
Only happy to oblige, Ancestry.com popped up a few results for city directories in Denver containing the name Julia Sullivan. Granted, these were for yet another ten years beyond the 1912 Tona Vita Julia, but they would suffice. After all the newspaper entries I had found for others claiming the same name as our Kelly descendant—oh, and did I mention, “capitalist”?—Julia Sullivan, my curiosity was to see how many Julia Sullivans could be found in Denver.
The 1923 directory told me there were four: beside our Julia, one a resident of Clay Street, one listed as “Mrs.” Julia Sullivan on South Lincoln, and one being the Tona Vita Julia—whom the directory listed as widow of Patrick.
By 1927, all that was listed was the Julia Sullivan on Clay Street—now identified as widow of Michael Sullivan—and our Julia. Apparently, the Tona Vita wasn’t working for the other Julia.
Unfortunately for my research, dates later than this exceed the stretch of time for which Denver newspapers were digitized for the online services I utilize. If I hope to find anything more recent on our Julia Creahan Sullivan—I’m thinking an obituary would be a nice addition to the collection, not to mention an answer to several questions—I will somehow need to take this directly to the source.
Not seeing a trip to the Denver area in my near future, my next best option is to trace what can be found on our Julia’s four children. Perhaps something reported on her descendants could boost our confidence in whether we have, indeed, isolated the right Julia.