Friday, August 1, 2014

Always Worth a Try

Now supplied with that solitary tidbit linking the athletic and accomplished Denver man-about-town, Harry A. Sullivan, with Julia C. Sullivan—the right Julia Sullivan, I’m hoping—I needed only to find some conclusive evidence demonstrating that this Julia Sullivan was indeed the one related to our Kelly descendants from Lafayette, Indiana.

There’s just something about success: it begets more success. And that’s just what I was primed to see. After wandering around this newspaper wilderness about as long as I could bear—after all, I had neared the end of the date range for the digitized archive I was using for this search—I was ready for a little victory dance. But first, I needed Julia’s obituary.

Remembering a comment by A Family Tapestry reader Nancy suggesting the use of services at the Denver Public Library, I thought I’d try a little experiment. I already knew I had a date of publication for the obituary of a Julia Sullivan—the only catch was that it was mentioned in a Lafayette newspaper, not in Denver. Of course, I wasn’t even sure this would be referring to the same Julia Sullivan—after all, she had priors for name twins in Denver. But I thought it was worth a gamble. I would try and see if the Lafayette date got any hits in the Denver newspaper. What did I have to lose?

The Denver Public Library has this wonderful service in which it provides an index for the many obituaries it has on file. The only catch is that the process of indexing is apparently not yet completed. However, on the page in its website listing the years available in its holdings, the library added this note:
For years not represented here, refer to the print volumes or contact us.

Well, it was a cinch I wouldn’t be going to Denver any time soon, so I wouldn’t be consulting any print volumes there. Why not take them up on their invitation to contact them?

I clicked on the link, which brought me to a form to complete. I entered Julia’s name, the anticipated date of the obituary, and an explanation that it fell within the years not included in their available date range. (Fortunately for me, I hadn’t yet stumbled upon a separate page within the library’s website which includes the digitized index for that same year, which would have enabled me, by a tedious trial and error method, to locate the date of publication, myself.)

Of course, nowhere on the website did it indicate whether the librarians would be willing to extend their services to those not living in the Denver area, or even to those not possessing a valid library card. Not to worry, however, as I soon found out. A cordial email response indicated that, if it were available, I would be receiving a copy of Julia’s obituary in the near future. And I did.

From the July 13, 1930, edition of the Rocky Mountain News:
Julia C. Sullivan, 1320 Gilpin st., beloved mother of Tom, Harry, and Florence Sullivan and Regina McClinton. Rosary recitation at the residence. Sunday, 9:30 a.m. Requiem mass will be offered at the Cathedral. Monday, 10 a.m. Interment Mount Olivet.

As thankful as I was for the help—there was no charge, although mention was made of how I might express my appreciation by sending a donation to the address provided—I found Julia’s obituary only accomplished one half of my goal. It linked Julia C. Sullivan with her four children: Tom, Harry, Florence and Regina.

Still, receiving that obituary, dated about the same time as the one listed in the Lafayette, Indiana newspaper index, implied that the Colorado Julia and the Indiana Julia were one and the same.

But it didn’t say that. I wanted more.

Not satisfied to have inferences stolen by coincidences, I decided to find a way around what seemed to be a less-than-inviting library persona projected by the website for the Lafayette Public Library. If crowdsourcing gave me the encouragement to attempt my request of the Denver Public Library, perhaps some kind soul at a genealogy forum would provide some guidance for my dilemma in obtaining the Sullivan obituary I needed from Lafayette.


  1. Such a brief obituary. Wasn't she a "finance mogul" at one time?

    I bet Julia always regretted not having a son named Richard.

    1. Looks like Florence may have never married and now you have a McClinton lead...

      Mount Olivet huh... only one of hundreds of cemeteries with that name! I looked in Find A Grave... "Mount Olivet Cemetery is a Roman Catholic cemetery operated by the Archdiocese of Denver. The cemetery is located at 12801 W. 44th Avenue in Wheat Ridge, [Jefferson County], Colorado."

    2. Iggy, you wouldn't believe how long it took me to find that Mount Olivet cemetery! I kept looking for one in Denver on Find a Grave. And nothing would come up! I finally did a search, state-wide, bracing myself for all the hits I just knew I'd get. Then I pulled up Mapquest to check on all the city names I didn't recognize. Wheat Ridge--or whatever it turned out to be in Jefferson County--was farthest from any of my guesses...but turns out to be quite a short drive from the middle of downtown Denver. Surprise.

      I am still working on the rest of Julia's children, by the way. Not sure I'll write about them, but I did see that Florence remained single. The Julia obit sure helped locate Regina, as well as railroad employee Tom. Out of all four of her children, though, I don't believe a one of them had any children of their own. (I'm still looking, though, so don't hold me to that conclusion yet.)

  2. MCCLINTON Regina E. (F-N) 9 Jul 1991 120

    But from what I can tell, Regina had no children.


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