1807 - 1892
Mary Josephine (O’Connell)
Timothy was born in 1807
in the Parish of Upper Glanmire, County Cork, Ireland.
Timothy and his eldest
brother Dennis began looking for land to purchase west of town. In
May of 1840, they purchased the North Half of Section 24 in Iowa
Township. The fact that they could purchase such a large tract of
land is a good indication of their wealth. They built a log cabin
along a creek bank and put in crops. While this land is not great
for farming, there were many reasons for selecting this site in
1840. In addition to the need for water and wood the problem of
breaking the sod was a formidable one. Also the summers blazed with
heat on the open prairie, and as fall approached, the danger of fire
was very real. The friendly woodland also offered protection from
the fearsome blasts of the winter blizzard. Before long a steam
powered saw mill was set up by Levi Sparks about a half mile from
the Sullivan’s farm. All that timber would be put to good use.
On Feb. 7, 1842, Bishop
Loras united Timothy and Catherine Murray in marriage. She was born
in Ireland on May 29, 1819 and emigrated in 1838. Her father was
reportedly an overseer at Bantry Estates in West Cork. Bantry House,
which still exists, is spectacularly situated and exuberantly
furnished by treasures collected by various generations of Earls of
Bantry from all parts of the world. The town of Bantry, at the head
of the Bay that carries its name, is famous in song and of legendary
beauty. It was and still is a fishing village and market place.
Catherine had a younger brother, Thomas and a sister Mary but little
else is known of her family.
A year after their
marriage their first child, Mary was born. Three more daughters were
born throughout the decade of the forties.
In 1849 Timothy purchased
forty acres on the prairie about four miles west of his farm, in
Section 17. He called this land “the Prairie farm” and he continued
to add to his holdings in the next few years eventually reaching 280
By the early fifties two
sons were born to complete the family. In September of 1856
Timothy’s youngest brother, Michael died at the age of forty.
The 1856 Tax Rolls
provide some information on the T. D. Sullivan farm. Of the 200
acres, mostly timber, that he owned only 60 acres were tillable.
They included 12 acres of meadow yielding 20 tons of Hay, 16 acres
Spring Wheat (135 bu), 9 acres Oats (250 bu), 9 acres Corn (300 bu),
½ acre Potatoes (30 bu). In addition there was 50# of wool and 400#
of butter produced. He also sold 11 hogs for $109 total and 3 head
of cattle for $41 each.
The Sullivan “Prairie”
farm was located just north of the small community of Tivoli (Tiv’-ola)
It was located on the Old Mission Road, a part of the highway built
in 1845, that ran from Dubuque to Fort Atkinson, Iowa and was a main
thoroughfare for early pioneers headed for northern Iowa and the
West. Fort Atkinson was located on the Turkey River about a dozen
miles southwest of Decorah. It was originally built to protect the
Winnebago during their removal from Wisconsin to western Iowa.
Construction of the fort began in May 1840 and was finished two
years later. The fort was abandoned in early 1849.
Tivoli was named for a
town in Italy on the outskirts of Rome. Its post office opened in
1847. In 1854, some of the village’s residents had the name changed
to Evergreen because of the abundance of evergreens in the area. The
post office was renamed Evergreen and Lawrence Duggan was named
postmaster. He operated a hotel and a variety store, too. Duggan was
married to Ellen O’Connell who became Dan Sullivan’s aunt after his
marriage to Bridget.
However, some of the
local Italians were not happy with the name change and induced the
town officials to return the name to Tivoli in 1855, Since there
were only 50 or so Italians in the entire township and 5 times that
many Irish, the townspeople must not have cared too much about the
Daniel D. O’Connell,
Timothy’s brother-in-law (as well as his son-in-law) operated a
store in Tivoli selling dry goods, Yankee notions, groceries, hats,
boots, and shoes. Thomas Murray, Timothy Sullivan’s brother-in-law,
was a shoemaker and ran a shop in the little village. So the whole
area was pretty much a family enterprise.
By 1899 there were still
46 residences in Tivoli but today there is nothing left to indicate
there was ever a town there.
A church (with a small
cemetery) and school had been built in 1853 at Tivoli which was just
½ mile south of the land Timothy had purchased in 1849. However the
church burned down in 1865. In 1860 the Bankston church was built
about a mile east of Tivoli and then improved in 1865. The Sullivan
and O’Connor families are among those listed as founders of St.
Clements Church in Bankston.
Timothy owned a total of 334 acres of land and Dennis had 240 acres.
Dennis lived with or very near Timothy all his life. On April 1,
1865 their brother John was accidentally shot and killed in Jackson
County. Two years later Mary Josephine, the Sullivan’s eldest
daughter died at age 24.
On January 31, 1873
Dennis passed away. He left his entire estate to his brother
Timothy. This brought his land holdings to almost an entire section
of land. (640 acres)
Nov. 14, 1884, Timothy
made out his will using John Deery, his nephew as his attorney and a
give and bequeath to my wife Catherine all my personal and
mixed property with the exceptions only hereinafter named.
devise and bequeath to my son Daniel Sullivan all my land in
Section 16 and 17 and the SW1/4 of the NW1/4 of Section 24,
Twp 89 R1W (Iowa Twp) subject to the payments and charges
hereinafter mentioned. (this was approx. 280 acres with a
taxable value of $3745)
devise to my son Timothy Sullivan (TJ) all my land in Section
24 excepting…that devised to my son Daniel and the SE1/4 of
the SE1/4 of Section 24 (40 acres) which I devise to my wife
in addition to said personal property. The devise to my son
Timothy above named is also made subject to the payments and
charges hereinafter mentioned viz: (so TJ got a little less
than 280 acres with a taxable value of $3360)
|That said Timothy
shall within five years from the date of my death shall pay my
two daughters Margaret and Catherine $1000 with interest $500
to each and that the said Daniel shall within five years from
the date of my death pay the said Margaret and Catherine $3000
with interest ($1500 to each)
|As I have already
advanced money to my daughter Johanna (Mrs. John Lagen) I will
give and bequeath her hereby but one Bond of the New Melleray
Corp. which I hold calling for $500.
|I also give and
bequeath to my grandson William Joseph O’Connell one Bond of
said New Melleray Corp which I hold calling for $500 or my
wife if she chooses may pay the said Johanna Lagen and Wm.
Joseph O’Connell $500 to each and retain said bonds…but I
desire that each…shall be paid $500 with interest within five
years of my death.
|I give and bequeath
to my wife all the residue of my property and I desire that
she shall have the full control of all my property during her
life notwithstanding said devised. And I do hereby exempt her
from giving bond for the execution of this will and appoint
her my Executrix believing that she will do what is for the
best interest of all therein.
added two codicils:
|I…give to my two
daughters…in addition to the bequeaths made them the amount of
two promissory notes made by my son Daniel to me in 1883, one
for $300, the other for $500 bearing interest…the amount of
said notes to be equally divided between them, the said
Margaret and Catherine.
|I also give to
them…whatever personal property and stock may be on the
Prairie Farm so called now occupied by my son Daniel
Sullivan…the proceeds to be divided equally. I mean to say
whatever personal property belonging to me at the time of my
death is to be given to them.
codicil on August 5, 1885…
|I desire that my
beloved wife shall be entitled to take without accounting for
is any and all cash that may be on hand at the time of my
|I also desire that
Jennie O’Toole who has lived with me many years shall have
$100 out of the property bequeathed to my wife and I direct
that my wife shall pay (her) immediately on the probate of my
the 280 acre “Prairie Farm” and his brother, T. J. got the original
277 acre farm. By the time of Timothy’s death, Dan had paid off the
$800 he had borrowed from his father.
T. D. Sullivan’s obituary
appeared in the ...
February 2, 1892
Death of Timothy D. Sullivan
“One of the few remaining and fast
disappearing of the early settlers of Dubuque passed away
yesterday morning at 6:30 o’clock at his home at Bankston, an
Timothy D. Sullivan was one of the
earliest of the early pioneers who braved the dangers and
privations of frontier life to make a home and fortune and
independence for his family. He came with his widowed mother
and brothers and sisters from Ireland, where he was born in
the year 1807, and settled first at Troy, N.Y. In the year
1836, the family removed to the then mining village of
Dubuque, in the new territory beyond the Mississippi. Here his
mother died, and in years later, followed the death of his
brothers John D., Dennis and Michael J. Sullivan, well known
citizens of the city and county. Timothy Sullivan was well
known too and highly respected by the people of the county,
who saw his sterling virtues tried through the vicissitudes of
life in a new country. His indomitable perseverance, untiring
industry and frugality enabled him during the long years
through which he labored to acquire and bring to the highest
degree of cultivation the splendid farm-the home where he has
in later hears enjoyed the fruits of his toil. During his long
and painful illness, borne with resignation and patience, his
house was besieged by the anxious inquiries of scores of
neighbors, who knew and appreciated his many excellent
qualities of head and heart. He leaves a bereaved widow, who
was the partner of his joys and sorrows for nearly half a
century. Surrounded by his children, who survive and who
ministered faithfully to his comfort and peace, he passed
quietly to eternal test. His life had been prolonged beyond
the usual years of men, but it was filled to the full with
usefulness and good deeds.”
after Timothy died, his wife passed away. Her obituary was written
in the ...
March 26, 1904
Death of Early Settler
Mrs. Catherine Sullivan Passes
Away at Home in Bankston on Friday.
“Mrs. Catherine Sullivan, widow of
the late Timothy D. Sullivan, died Friday morning at 8:30
o’clock at her residence in Iowa township this county. Mrs.
Sullivan was one of the few surviving early settlers of
Dubuque county, who came here when Iowa was but a name for
uninhabital prairies. She was born in Ireland May 29, 1819 and
came to America in 1838. In the same year in which Iowa
Territory was organized she came to the frontier settlement at
Dubuque, and was married to Mr. Sullivan in 1842. They
immediately began life on the farm where she died, and
together for more than Fifty years endured the hardships and
enjoyed the fruits of thrifty and industrious pioneer life in
the great west. In 1892, her husband died and with her
children she has since continued to occupy the old homestead.
Mrs. Sullivan was a woman of unusual
mental gifts, and while living a life of practical retirement
from contact with the world was devoted to the interests of
her home and family. She always maintained a deep and
discriminating interest in books and in the great public
questions of the day. She was a woman of broad charity or
undaunted hope and of unfaltering faith in everything which
underlies Christian fortitude. She died in the fullness of
years surrounded by her children and strengthened and consoled
by the ministrations of the church in which and according to
the teachings of which she had lived for more than four score
years. She is survived by her children, Mrs. John Lagen,
Daniel J., Margaret, Catherine and T. J. Sullivan.
The funeral will take place Sunday
morning at 9 o’clock.”
Children of Timothy & Catherine Sullivan:
1) Mary Josephine
b. 1843, d. Sept. 8, 1867 (24yrs. 9 mos.)
|married Daniel D. O’Connell b. 1841, d. at
age 46 on Dec. 5, 1887 He was the younger brother of Patrick
O’Connor’s wife, Anna and so was Bridget Sullivan’s uncle. OK
bear with me here: Mary Josephine was not only Bridget’s aunt
(by marriage) she was also Bridget’s sister-in-law since Mary
was Daniel’s sister. Got that??
Margaret Josephine died July 17, 1878 at 11
years 4mos. 15 days;
William Joseph b. June 18, 1865; d. Dec. 13,
William was of “unsound mind” and after his father died,
his uncle, Daniel Sullivan was appointed his guardian.
He lived with the Sullivans for years but then
disappeared and reportedly could not be found when
Daniel Sullivan’s will was probated. He showed up in
1928 and the following was filed in court: “…William
Joseph O’Connell who had been absent from these parts
for twenty years or thereabouts, had suddenly returned
to Dubuque but on account of his nomadic habits was
likely again to take the road, and that if he departed
as expected, it would eventually require the issuance of
letters of administration against the said legatee as an
absentee, and add costs. That fearing he would depart, a
check was issued unto him…” They paid him $500 that
Daniel had held for him since Timothy’s death 36 years
earlier. O’Connell agreed not to charge interest.
Johanna b. 1844, d. April 2, 1934; m. John Lagen (b. April 2,
1842; d. Dec. 25, 1913)
|They moved to Dubuque where she lived for 70
(b. Apr 1872; d. Jun 4, 1874)
Daniel ( b. July 12, 1874; d. Feb 21, 1939),
Cyril ( b. 1879; d. Apr. 10, 1955)
George (1881- ??)
( b. July 11, 1881; d. Mar. 28, 1946)
Joseph (b. Aug. 5, 1884; d. Apr. 29, 1938)
Louis “Pat” (b. Jan. 26, 1891; d. Apr. 1966)
|Johanna was 8 months pregnant when she left
her two-year-old son, John, with the hired girl while she went
shopping. John fell down the stairs and died. Johanna never
got over it. “That’s why she was so careful.”
article appeared in the paper:
LAGEN—On Thursday morning, the 4th
inst. (June 1874) John, infant son of John and Joanna Lagen,
aged 2 years and 2 months. Funeral this (Friday) morning at 8
½ o’clock from the family residence on 4th street,
above bluff. Friends of the family are invited to attend. The
remains will be conveyed to Tivoli, in Bankston settlement,
Margaret b. April 19, 1847 d. Oct. 19, 1937
|Died at her nephew, Cyril Lagen’s house. She
was a school teacher in Dubuque and never married. She filed a
simple will leaving everything to Cyril.
Katherine b. 1848 d. Sept. 17, 1918
She lived and
worked with her sister as an assistant teacher and after
retirement moved back to the farm with her brother, TJ, and
her obituary provides pretty much all that is known about her
DEATH SUMMONS MISS SULLIVAN
“Miss Catherine Sullivan daughter of
the late Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Sullivan of Bankston, in this
county died at her home on Thursday evening, after a long
illness which she endured with that characteristic patience
and unchanging sweetness manifested to all those with whom she
was associated in life.
Miss Sullivan was born and reared in
Dubuque county. She had many acquaintances in the city and
county who appreciated her sterling qualities of mind and
heart, but it was reserved for her family circle, her intimate
friends who knew her in every relation of life, to appreciated
her true womanly worth, her unselfish devotion to her parents,
her brothers and sisters, and that unfailing faithfulness to
her neighbor, which characterized her every day, and which
impressed and edified those who knew her best. She will be
long remembered in the community which her life adorned and
sadly mourned by her family and friends.
Her brother, T. J. Sullivan, and her
sisters, Margaret Sullivan, of Bankston, and Mrs. John Lagen,
of Dubuque, are the only surviving members of her family.
The funeral services will be held at
the Bankston church on Sunday afternoon at 3:30 o’clock.”
b. 1851 d. Oct. 18, 1917
|married Bridget O’Connor who was the niece of
his brother-in-law, D. D. O’Connell. (See Biography of Daniel
|It is curious that none of Daniel’s children
6) T. J.
b. 1853 d. June 1, 1931
Never married and
farmed at Bankston all his life. He was a member of the school
board. He reportedly was a very sensitive person. He also may
have been hard of hearing. (possibly even deaf) His obituary
reveals very little about his life:
T. J. SULLIVAN
“T. J. Sullivan, pioneer of Dubuque
county, was called by death at the Mercy hospital, Wednesday
after-noon at 3 o’clock. He had been ill for the past year.
The funeral will be held Saturday
morning from the home near Bankston, to St. Clement’s church
in that town at 9 o’clock. Internment will be made in the
cemetery adjoining the church. Mr. Sullivan was born near
Bankston seventy-seven years ago and had always resided on a
farm in that locality. He is survived by two sisters, Miss
Margaret Sullivan, Bankston, and Mrs. Johanna Lagen Dubuque;
two nephews, Cyril and Louis J. Lagen, both of Dubuque.
Although a non-resident of Dubuque Mr.
Sullivan was well known here as he visited this city
frequently. He possessed sterling qualities, which endeared
him to countless friends who extend their sympathy to the
bereaved relatives. Mr. Sullivan did much charity work for the
needy or his community.”
died in infancy