James O. Sullivan, who was born in County Clare, Ireland, in 1826, died on the 16th of June, 1898, upon his farm on section 27, Mona township. His life record therefore covered seventy-two years — years that were fraught with successful accomplishments proving the strength of his character and his business ability. Although he had no special advantages in youth, he became one of the extensive landowners of Ford county, winning his success through judicious investments and honorable methods. His youth and early manhood were spent in the land of his birth, and in 1850 he came to America with his father, Lott Sullivan, and his two brothers, Ed and Loll Sullivan, Jr. They made their way to Reading, Pennsylvania, where they worked by the month as farm hands. The year 1853, however, witnessed their arrival in Peoria county, Illinois, all of the family coming at that time. They rented a farm and the family have since been closely associated with the agricultural interests of this state. The mother died in Ireland previous to the emigration of the family to the new world. One brother of our subject, Michael Sullivan, died in La Salle county, and William is still living there. Lott is a resident of Minonk, Illinois. John, now deceased, reared a family of sixteen children. Dennis is also living in La Salle county. Michael, the eldest of the brothers, reared five families, having two sets of children by different marriages, and died in La Salle county in 1905, when more than one hundred years of age. He was widely known as a horseman and raised some of the finest horses ever seen in La Salle county. He lived five miles from Minonk, and such was his physical vigor and activity that at the age of eighty years he would prefer walking to riding into town.
James 0. Sullivan was identified with agricultural interests in Peoria county until his removal to La Salle county, where he again carried on general agricultural pursuits. Some time later he sold out there and in 1873 came to Ford county, where his remaining days were passed. He located on section 27, Mona township, and made it his place of abode until he was called to the home beyond. His purchase embraced one-half of the section and for this property he paid thirty dollars per acre. There were only four or five families in the vicinity at that time and the country was wild and proved an excellent hunting ground. Many people visited the region in order to engage in hunting, and Mr. Sullivan's home was frequently the place of entertainment for them. Professional men, statesmen and various distinguished citizens sought shelter in his hospitable home while as disciples of Nimrod they engaged in the chase in this section of the state. Mr. Sullivan himself cared little for hunting, but his son became quite expert in bringing down game with the rifle.
When Mr. Sullivan took up his abode upon this farm there was a story-and-a-half house upon it, sixteen by twenty-four feet. In 1880 he rebuilt this, converting it into a residence of eight rooms, which was later used as a tenant house. Two families had occupied the little story-and-a-half dwelling before the Sullivan family took up their abode there. Five years ago the present beautiful home was erected. It is a palatial dwelling of fifteen rooms, being the largest and finest residence in Mona township. As the years passed Mr. Sullivan continued the work of cultivating and improving his farm, and as his financial resources increased he added to the property from time to time, his second purchase bringing him one hundred and twenty acres on section 32. Subsequently he bought eighty acres on the same section and later one hundred and sixty acres on section 33. He also owned one hundred and sixty acres in La Salle county before his removal to Ford county. At one time he had twelve hundred head of cattle which he took to herd, utilizing the land east of him as pasturage, while his home place was largely devoted to the raising of grain. His business methods measure up to the full standard of upright dealing and the secret of his success lay in his close application, his unremitting industry and his keen business discernment.
In the fall of 1856 Mr. Sullivan was married, in Peoria, Illinois, to Miss Sarah Dawes, who was born in Ireland about forty miles from Dublin on the 20th of December, 1830. In 1849 she crossed the Atlantic to New Orleans, thence proceeded up the river to St. Louis and on to Peoria, making the journey with her parents, Michael and Bridget (McCort) Dawes. Her father died in New Orleans of ship fever the night after the family landed, leaving six daughters and two sons, the latter being ten and five years of age respectively. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan were born eight children: Bernard, residing at home; William, who was born in 1859 and died on the home farm in March, 1892, at the age of thirty-two years; Maggie, at home; Sarah, the wife of George Koerner, who resides in Mona township; Rose, James and Mary, all at home; and Kittie, the wife of R. A. Fruin of Ashton, Illinois. Mrs. Sullivan died in March, 1908.
The family own ten hundred and eighty acres, all in Mona township, and are numbered among the prominent and leading representatives of agricultural life in Ford county. To his family Mr. Sullivan left not only a good property, but also an untarnished name. For the greater part of a century he lived in the county and those who knew him respected him for his many good traits of character. His sons are carrying on the work which he began and the Sullivan property is classed with the valuable real estate of this part of Illinois.

Extracted 17 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 2, pages 724-726.

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