Saturday, July 12, 2014

Close, But Not Our Bloomington

While we’re struggling to discern which of several Denver capitalists calling themselves Julia Sullivan was our Julia Sullivan—the Kelly descendant whose family lived in Lafayette and Bloomington, Indiana—we add two more newspaper clippings to the mix.

One, from The Daily News on October 3, 1907, told the predictable rest of the story about the Julia Sullivan whom we met yesterday. Sadly, as often happens, not long after she lost her husband, Stephen J. Sullivan, this Julia died as well.

The newspaper acknowledgement of her passing was brief, headlined as “Widow of Pioneer Mining Man Summoned by Death.” Though the short entry will be useful for any descendants researching her line, we’ve already discovered they would not be including any of our Kelly family.

However, the article was also helpful in that it gave a bit of this Julia’s origins. The city name, Bloomington, jumped out of the newsprint and caught my eye right away—but only momentarily. That Bloomington was followed by “Md.” rather than “Ind.” But what a coincidence. After all, our Julia had a sister who had moved from Lafayette to Bloomington—Indiana, that is.
            Julia Sullivan, widow of Stephen J. Sullivan, a prominent mining man, is dead at the family residence, 1673 York street. Deceased was 54 years old, a native of Bloomington, Md.

A Denver Post article the previous day had provided a bit more detail on the woman’s background, as well as that of her quite successful husband, and focused on the deplorable condition of her health in her last months.

While the article leaves me with no doubt that our Julia Creahan Sullivan, “capitalist,” was not the same as this Julia Sullivan, it was interesting to see what details were considered to be vital for inclusion in an obituary of that era, and for the now-deceased woman whose life was about to be commemorated at a chapel on Logan Avenue in Denver.
            Just fourteen months after the death of her husband, Stephen J. Sullivan, a well-known mining man, Mrs. Julia A. Sullivan succumbed to a breakdown which resulted from the nervous shock and died at midnight last night. For seven months she has not left her bed, although for over a year she has been failing.
            For two years before the death of Mr. Sullivan the two traveled for the benefit of his health. Mrs. Sullivan chose to do the nursing herself and her constant attendance at his bedside wore her vitality and energy and the shock of his death, Aug. 6, 1906, left her a nervous wreck. She was born in Bloomington, Md., fifty-four years ago and came of an old Southern family. With her husband she went to Leadville in the early mining days and Mr. Sullivan became recognized as a successful man. He managed the Little Jonny for some time and operated for himself the Breese and Penn claims. Later in life he was heavily interested in Mexican properties. He left a fortune of $500,000 when he died last year.
            Mrs. Sullivan is survived by three sons and two daughters. S. J. Jr., Robert and Leo Sullivan, Mrs. Daniel G. Monaghan and Miss Eva Sullivan. The family home is at 1673 York street. The funeral will be held from the Logan Avenue chapel on Friday morning, the music being furnished by the Queen’s Daughters choir. Mrs. Sullivan was an honorary member of that organization and Mrs. Monaghan was at one time president.


  1. Wow -- privacy laws have come a long way since that obit.

    1. Privacy laws: the bane of town gossips and family snoops everywhere.

  2. What an interesting obituary! I'm sorry it wasn't "your" Julia, but it's intriguing, nevertheless. I wonder what his illness was? And why it led to her breakdown? And I love their use of "nervous wreck," which was probably not a cliche at that point. One question: which newspaper archive(s) do you use? I haven't had a lot of luck finding things about my family.

    1. Elise, I've had to hop between a number of services for my newspaper resources. It primarily depends on which family line I'm researching, where the family settled for the time period in question, and which service offers the newspapers I'm seeking. I currently subscribe to and, in addition to accessing what I can via

      If you aren't having much luck, I want to mention that it is not only subscription services which provide what you are seeking. There are many free online resources for historic newspapers, as well--the U.S. Library of Congress' Chronicling America website and Google newspapers come to mind, as well as such state online repositories as the California Digital Newspaper Collections.

      When all else fails, I go on the genealogy forums on,, or the erstwhile GenForum, and ask on the specific county forum I'm researching where I may find that county's free resources. Local researchers are quite willing to share their favorite local resources. I've discovered many free Canadian newspaper archives that way.

      Also, never underestimate the power of Google to unearth even the most out-of-the-way resources, even on historic newspapers. I utilize quote marks around terms I want to find verbatim, then combine those with secondary search terms to tease out possible hits. This takes trial-and-error patience, but worth it.

      And I couldn't end this comment without a hat tip to two resources which don't fall into any specific categories. One is the blog, Ancestor Hunt, whose author, Kenneth R. Marks, is fanatical about historic newspaper research. His page on newspaper resources contains multiple clickable sources you may find useful. The other, primarily for east coast U.S. and Canadian newspapers, is the seemingly-misnamed Old Fulton NY Postcards website.

      If all else fails, Elise, consider contacting the local library where your ancestors once lived, or that county's genealogical society or historical society, and inquire whether anyone would be available to send you obituaries or other news clippings. Many societies and libraries do this for a modest fee--some, as I've discovered, have online ordering forms handily connected to PayPal for those who can't stand the wait--or may actually have an online index or published book listing names included in their local resources.

      Best wishes as you track down your elusive ancestors!

  3. I enjoyed reading her obit..I love the colorful way her slow downhill slide was stated:)

    1. It's really an education, reading through all those old newspapers. A different world than ours, indeed.


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