Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Fight of Good Citizens

After Denver resident Harry Sullivan resigned from his post-World War I position as manager of the city’s demobilization bureau, there was an unusual year-long hiatus from mentions of his name in the local newspapers. I doubt this active advocate for the nation’s former soldiers had forsaken his sense of mission during that time. He was, after all, now working as the Colorado state “organizer” for the American Legion—and from the sound of the many press reports about this dynamo in his former position, there was still much work to be done.

It wasn’t until the Rocky Mountain News gave a progress report on January 6, 1921, that we get an idea of what Harry had been up to, lately:
            …To abolish poverty and employment seeking by former service men and women, and to provide self-employment, a bill creating a more generous homestead law for them will be introduced in congress next week by Representative William N. Valle of Denver. The proposed bill was drawn up by Harry A. Sullivan, national committeeman from Colorado of the American Legion.

Perhaps behind-the-scenes work was taking up more of Harry’s time, as he no longer seemed to be the darling of the Denver newspapers. Or perhaps this June 11, 1922, entry in the Denver Post helps paint the picture more accurately:
            Senator Harry Sullivan and Buddy Griffith, two local players, have been making their home at Model, Colo., where they both are homesteading. The club has been winning with regularity, and challenge any club in southern Colorado.

Though I have no idea what the reference to “Senator Harry Sullivan” might mean, the Post did clue me in on two things: that Harry was back to playing ball, and that that homesteading law he had drawn up must have worked out quite nicely for him as well.

So, if Harry no longer lived in Denver, where exactly did he live? Model, Colorado turned out to be an unincorporated area in Las Animas County, far to the south of Harry’s hometown of Denver. Close to the New Mexico border, the closest town of any size was the county seat, Trinidad—a municipality which, even now, only has a population of nine thousand people.

Trinidad Colorado in 1907

Wondering what impact such a remote location might have exerted on the American Legion organizer’s effectiveness, I was relieved to find evidence in the Rocky Mountain News that Harry was back in the game—the political game, that is—with a mention on August 4, 1922:
            …Harry A. Sullivan, Colorado department member of the national executive committee of the [American] legion, was the chairman of the evening…

Apparently, Harry was back in town for the occasion of a gala event of the American Legion in Denver. The evening’s proceedings were also covered that same day in the Denver Post, which reported on commentary from the evening’s speakers.
            The chief duty of the [American] legion…is at present the care of disabled veterans. [American Legion leaders] expressed confidence that the pending bonus legislation will be adopted.
            Harry A. Sullivan, Colorado department member of the national executive committee of the legion, presided at the banquet….

Shortly thereafter, the Post revealed results of additional political maneuvering, possibly an outgrowth of the behind-the-scenes networking that had enabled Harry to be so successful in his various positions advocating on behalf of returning soldiers after the war. On August 26, their report revealed
            The Ex-Service Men’s Political league of Denver was formed Friday night at a meeting held at Howe Hall, on California street, more than 300 former service men attending.
            Support for ex-service men who are candidates in the current political campaign, and for other candidates classed as “worthy,” is pledged by the league. Harry Sullivan was chosen permanent chairman….

On the eve of Veteran’s Day, 1922, a Denver Post article indicated the planned activities, the next day, for Harry’s old division, the 157th Infantry. In addition to other speakers, Harry Sullivan was slated to address his old regiment, after which, it was promised, a “lively entertainment program” would follow.
            Members of the 157th infantry will march in the parade 200 strong, but not in a body, it was announced Friday. Members of the organization will march with their respective ex-service men’s organizations. The annual banquet and reunion of the 157th will be held at the Albany hotel at 6 o’clock Saturday evening.

As the year of 1922 drew to a close, Harry once again was mentioned in the Denver newspapers, this time to indicate yet another step in his career trajectory. In a long article in the December 31 edition of the Post describing the noteworthy career and planned retirement of the “First U.S. Woman Deputy Marshal,” a postscript included the other personnel changes anticipated in the Marshal’s office in 1923. In the blip of a mere line of type, Harry’s name once again made its appearance.
            Thomas Keenan, also a deputy on [U.S.] Marshal Burris’ staff, resigned his position Saturday, and will enter the employ of the Colorado Fuel and Iron company.
            Harry A. Sullivan has been appointed to take Keenan’s place

Photograph, above: Business section of Las Animas County seat, Trinidad, Colorado, as it appeared in 1907, fifteen years before Harry Sullivan moved to a homestead in an unincorporated area of the county; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. When I read "Senator Harry Sullivan," I thought he had been elected senator. But I guess that was the team name, right? Did I read that right? There was an American League franchise called the Washington Senators.

    1. Yes, you're right, Wendy! The Senators. That name did have a "team" ring to it. But that's pro ball, and Harry was semi-pro. Still, I don't suppose anyone had a monopoly on names for ball teams at that level. Maybe so...

  2. "The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness."

    "American Legion Baseball is one of the nation’s most successful amateur athletic programs, educating young people about the importance of sportsmanship, citizenship and fitness."

    I wonder if Harry was a member of an American Legion ball team (named the Senators)? Or was he a state senator? And is he a relative? :)

    1. As far as your three questions go, Iggy, I have no idea. All good leads for further research. The only thing I do know at this point is that, after reading yesterday's post, my husband has decided that Harry is his top candidate for Most Wanted Cousin.

      We'll see if he wins that one ;)

  3. has a notice of Harry's passing dated September 9, 1950. I think if he had been a State or Federal Senator it would have mentioned it.

    1. Likely you are right about that one, Iggy. Well, that's another vote for the sports team theory!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...