In 1883 Abraham Sullivan welcomed his wife, Livinia and four children, Charles, Nynetta, Emma, and Theodore to Boston, Massachusetts. Emigrating from New Brunswick, Canada, the family would remain in the Boston area for many generations to come. After the move to Boston, oldest son Charles H. Sullivan would rise to prominence in the New England music scene. He became a skilled craftsman in instrument-making and founded the Boston Victorian Orchestra, a multi-racial orchestra.
Charles Sullivan never married, which perhaps contributes to the lack of information on his life. His brother Theodore married Anne Vann of Nova Scotia, Canada. Together they raised two daughters from Anne’s previous marriage, Sadie and Rosa Jones (later Sadie Thompson and Rosa Miller). They also had four children of their own, Theodore M., twins Mary (later Mary Walters) and May, and Frances (later Frances Mendez).
Theodore and Anne’s son Theodore M. began his family’s military tradition by enlisting in the army in 1917, during the First World War. He spent two years fighting in Europe before being honorably discharged at the end of the conflict in 1919. In the early 1930s Theodore was awarded the Purple Heart by United States Secretary of War George Dern for eleven different wounds sustained in 1918.
Theodore M.’s example was followed by his immediate and extended family members during the Second World War. Many of the women volunteered in war efforts at home and all three of Theodore M.’s sons, Lewis, Earle, and Edwin (Eddy) enlisted for service in the armed forces. In 1943 Earle Sullivan was accepted into the Tuskegee Institution’s program for training the first African American military pilots (now famously known as the “Tuskegee Airmen”) and was well into his training before his death at the end of 1943.
The Sullivan family continued their tradition of service for many decades through memberships with the Red Cross and American Legion. In 1954 Sadie Thompson, Theodore M. Sullivan’s half sister, was honored with an award for forty years of service in her Boston Chapter of the American Red Cross, and again in 1971 for fifty five years of active involvement.
Although the Sullivan family retained ties to the Boston area they originally settled in, several branches have spread throughout the northeastern United States. After his marriage, Theodore M. Sullivan began working for the Bureau of Engraving in Washington D.C. Still connected to his Boston home, Theodore split his time between the two cities until his death in 1969. Upon her marriage to Thomas Mendes, Ethylene Mendez, daughter of Francis Sullivan Mendez moved to Long Island, N.Y. She was eventually followed by her mother and sister, Lillian, where they lived until their deaths in the 1980s and 90s.