History of Sullivan

Founded by Stephen and Dorcas Sullivan in 1865, the City of Sullivan has a history rich in tradition and generosity, offering a proud heritage for all citizens of the Sullivan Area.

Stephen and Dorcas Sullivan migrated to Missouri from Sough Carolina in 1818. The Sullivans had been in Potosi only a few days when they met Daniel Boone, who was in town purchasing supplies and ammunition. Boone told them of the Meramec River with its clear flowing water, abounding in fish, and the surrounding country rich in game and lead ore.

When Daniel Boone and his two Indian friends returned to Boone Creek, Mr. Sullivan and his wife accompanied them to the Meramec River. They settled there and built a cabin near what is known as Hamilton Ford.

Despite Indians burning down the original log home, the Sullivans persevered, clearing a large tract which they mined and farmed.

On June 4, 1856, Stephen and Dorcas Sullivan purchased 169 acres of property for $400 from William Smith. The acreage, at a cost of little more that $2.35 per acre, would be the future site of the original town of Sullivan. Stephen, who was in railroad construction at the time, had learned of the plans of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad Company to extend the Southwest Branch from Franklin (Pacific) to Rolla, and the location of the proposed route. Stephen purchased the property from Smith with the intent to build a town on the site, which he did.

The Sullivans donated property and a building to the Railroad for a depot on their new land. Futhermore, they bestowed right-of-way property for the tracks. Fifty lots were also laid out to the South of the proposed railroad tracks. This generosity by the Sullivans, prompted the Railroad to name the Depot after the donors and thus was the new town of Sullivan named. Twenty years after the land was first purchased from the United States Government, Sullivan was officially a town, located in Meramec Township, County of Franklin, State of Missouri. Meramec Township was located in the south western Franklin County which included the present Sullivan and Stanton area.

People began migrating to the small river lands of the Meramec and Bourbeuse rivers, making land entries, clearing timber, building homes and cultivating the soil. Along with farmers came the miners, exploring the mineral resources of the new frontier and starting mining operations wherever they deemed profitable. Iron and copper were the chief resources, although in later years Missouri would rank number one in lead production in the United States.

From researching letters and articles, it is easily determined that the Sullivans were good, brave, strong-willed and hard-working people. They left a valuable legacy to their descendants, and to the town of Sullivan. Although the town was named by the Frisco Railroad to honor Stephen Sullivan for his donation of land, it is actually the town itself that received the honor by carrying the name of the sturdy pioneer who founded it. Stephen was told by the surveyor that the site (Sullivan) was destined to become a “city of some consequence,” and that he would become a part of Sullivan’s destiny when he bought the land and laid out a town.

No one knows how great his vision for the future of the town may have been, but chances are that today Stephen Sullivan would not be disappointed in the growth and progress of the town he founded in 1856….nearly 150 years ago.

Excerpts and information taken from “A History of Sullivan, Missouri” commissioned by the Bank of Sullivan.

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#2 West Springfield Rd., Sullivan, MO 63080

Phone: (573) 468-3314
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