Alex and Nell (Madigan) Sullivan

Alex and Nell (Madigan) Sullivan
Alex and Nell (Madigan) Sullivan in backyard of 18 N. Latrobe, Chicago, Illinois c1937

About Alex Sullivan and Nell Madigan

About Alex Sullivan and Nell Madigan

Alexander Aloysius Sullivan was born on March 24, 1880 in Chicago, Illinois. He was the seventh of ten children born to Philip J. Sullivan (1840-1915) and Ellen Connor (1848-1919). Ellen "Nell" Theresa Madigan was also born in Chicago, the second of seven children born to Patrick Madigan (c1850-1890) and Bridget "Bessie" Thompson (1855-1935). They married at St. Agatha's Catholic Church on August 20, 1907. They raised two children, Thomas Aloysius born July 7, 1908 (See also Sullivan/Carmody Blog) and Helen Mae born March 11, 1914 (See also McIntyre/Sullivan Blog), on the west side of Chicago. Alex, or "Al" as Nell called him, was a steamfitter his whole life. Al worked for Mehring and Hanson located at Jefferson and Randolph in Chicago. Mehring and Hanson eventually became Hill Mechanical which is still in business in Chicago today. Nell raised the two children and was a homemaker her entire life. Al was almost six feet tall, which for his time was quite tall. Nell, on the other hand, was only about five-feet-two inches and in her older years much shorter than that! Al and Nell both died at their home located at 18 North Latrobe in Chicago, Al on January 26, 1956 and Nell, ten years later, on January 21, 1966.

Monday, May 9, 2016

A Four Year Old on Her Own

In her "Story of a Lifetime" book, Mom wrote about one of her experiences:

Question: Did anything unusual or strange happen to you during your childhood?

Helen McIntyre 6 years old, c1920

Answer: "This probably was unusual or strange! I was about 4 years old and living on Fillmore St. I was playing in the back yard, suddenly got bored and decided I wanted to go to the movies. My Mother and Father would take me to the Twentieth Century or Gold Theaters on Roosevelt Rd. which was 2 blocks south of us. So I went out the back gate, cut through the neighbors' yards and got to Roosevelt Rd. I saw the Gold about a block away. I went there and followed some people in the show and went in and sat down. My Mother looked all over for me and when my Father came home from work she sent him to look for me. After asking everyone if they saw a little girl with long blonde curls, he asked the Ticket Taker at the Gold. She said "Oh, about 3 hours ago I did, she went in the show." My Father got the usher to go down all the aisles with a flash light and there I was in the front row. I didn't want to leave but he got me out."

I can't imagine what someone would think today if their 4 year old daughter disappeared from the backyard. 

Helen did love the movies her whole life. I remember her taking me to the movies in downtown Chicago when I was 4 or 5. We would arrive in the morning and spend all day at the theater.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Happy 100th Birthday, Helen

Al and Nell's second child, Helen May Sullivan, was born on March 11, 1914 -- 100 years ago today. The video is called "Happy 100th Birthday Seedy" because that is the name her three granddaughters called her. However, her great grandchildren called her Gigi.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Al and Nell Sullivan in 1940 US Census

Alex and "Helen" Nell Sullivan are listed as living at 18 N. Latrobe, Chicago, in the 1940 US Census.  This is not a surprise to anyone in the family.  However, the other information provided on the 1940 census gives us a unique glimpse into their lives at the time.

Although it is noted Al was a steamfitter, he was not employed at the time of the census and had not been for 40 previous weeks.  I'm sure that was a very difficult economic time for the Sullivans.  The census additionally reports that he was employed for only 26 weeks in 1939 and had earned $2,200 during the year ending December 31, 1939.  $2,200 (using the CPI, about $34,500 in 2010 dollars) was a very decent salary for 26 weeks of work in 1939.

Al and Nell owned their home which was valued at $3,500.  Their tenants, Robert and Agnes Hutchison, lived on the first floor and paid $45 per month rent.  I remember my Mother telling me that Robert Hutchinson was also unemployed at some point during the depression, but in the 1940 census it states he was working as a teacher in the public school system.  When the Hutchisons moved from 18 N. Latrobe in the late 1940s, the McIntyre family moved in and stayed until 1967.

The census reports Al completed four years of high school.  He attended St. Ignatius High School (St. Ignatius College Prep today), which was called St. Ignatius College at the time.  In 1894, St. Ignatius College enrolled 400 students, most were first generation Irish, as was Alex.  This is the same school his grandson, Laurence McIntyre, attended nearly sixty years later.  To my amazement, Nell only had an eighth grade education.  She sure was smart for only having attended elementary school.  For those of us who knew her, I don't think one of us would have guessed she hadn't had more education.

Although Nell and Al were only 2 months apart in age, when they reported their age to the census taker, somehow Al suddenly became five years older!  In April of 1940, Al would have just turned 60 the week before and Nell would have been two month shy of 60 but she reported her age as 55!  Ah, the female privilege!

1940 US Census, Chicago, Illinois; ED 103-2329, page 2B
To enlarge the 1940 US Census, double click on image.

Source: National Archives, 1940 US Census, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, ED 103,2329, page 2B, T627.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Happy 131st Birthday, Nell Madigan Sullivan

Ellen "Nell" Madigan would have been 131 on May 29, 2011. Since her birthday often fell over Memorial Day, the family always celebrated her special day on that weekend. Here are some photos from her life.

Nell, c late 1890s, probably in South Haven, Michigan
where she would often go for summer visits with Laura Carmody.

Al and Nell, c early 1930s, with daughter, Helen

Nell with grandson, Tom,
in backyard of 18 N. Latrobe, c1937

She was a wonderful lady who was a super cook (oh those roast beefs), a fun grandmother and a devout Catholic, attending Mass everyday.  Happy Birthday!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Grandparents, c1949

Al and Nell Sullivan with two of their grandchildren, Elaine and Larry McIntyre, at Lake Lawn Lodge, Delevan, Wisconsin c1949.  They are standing in front of the old hotel which has been torn down.  Good times were had at LLL.

Alex Sullivan, Death Certificate, 1956

Alexander A. Sullivan died on January 26, 1956. He had arteriosclerosis for several years before his death. I remember his legs would fill with water and look very swollen. I was told this was because his heart was not beating properly and therefore not removing extra fluid from his body. Dr. Fitzgerald signed the death certificate. He was the family doctor.

When Al died, he had been retired for several years. For almost all of his working life he had been a steamfitter.  A steamfitter is one who installs and repairs heating, ventilating, refrigeration, and air-conditioning systems.  As early as 1908, on his son's birth certificate, his occupation is listed as steamfitter.

Al was waked for two days at the Hursen Funeral Home located at 5911 West Madison Street, about seven blocks away from his home on Latrobe Avenue.  It was the funeral home the family normally used.  He was buried at Queen of Heaven Cemetery on January 30, 1956 after a funeral mass at St. Thomas Aquinas church, his parish for nearly 50 years. His son, Thomas Sullivan, was the informant on Al's death certificate.

If you double click on the image, it will increase in size.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nell Madigan Sullivan, Death Certificate, 1966

Nell died on January 21, 1966, almost 10 years to the day from when her husband, Al, passed away. A few weeks before she died, she had a party for all of her friends at her home at 18 N. Latrobe on Chicago. She spent the week before the party cleaning the apartment, walking to grocery stores, the bakery and the meat market -- collecting the food stuffs for the party.  I remember she was so happy getting ready for the event. However, within days of the party, she seemed to fail. Mom said she was supposed to be taking high blood pressure medication, but felt the pills weren't necessary and thought that an aspirin was just as good. Mom thought Nell might have chosen not to take the pills because of their high cost.

She probably had had several small strokes which eventually made her bed-ridden. An ambulance was called but Nell refused to go to the hospital and they had to leave. Her doctor came to the house and gave her some medication that caused her to relax. Unfortunately, it may have also taken her "fight" away and she seemed to slip into a coma. The ambulance was again called and took her to St. Joseph Hospital. She was pronounced dead on arrival.

Like her husband, she was waked at the Hursen Funeral Home on west Madison Street. Her funeral service took place at St. Thomas Aquinas Church -- the Church where she attended Mass each day, almost to the day she died. She is buried next to her husband in Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois.

Nell was a homemaker her entire married life raising two children and tending to her husband Al.

Note, although her death certificate states she is 79, she was actually born on May 29, 1880.  She would have been 86 at the time of her death per her birth certificate.
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