James Owen Sullivan, referred throughout his life as J. O. Sullivan, was born on May 10, 1860 in St. Paul, Minnesota to Irish immigrant parents.
At the age of 19, Sullivan went up the Missouri River to Fort Assiniboine in Montana and found work as a brick layer for the US government. While there, he witnessed the return of the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians who had fled into Canada after the Battle of the Little Big Horn. They were truly a wild, unruly lot was Mr. Sullivans description of them.
After his sojourn in Montana, Sullivan returned to St. Paul to attend business college and work until coming to Mandan in 1881.
He was employed initially in Mandan as a clerk for his brother-in-law Michael Lang who owned one of the first grocery stores in the city. He also clerked for the Charles W. Van Slyck dry goods merchant. But once he ventured out on his own, over the course of his life he would set a local record of sixty-two continous years in the dry goods business. James Owen Sullivan opened a store here in 1884 and continued its operationg until his death in 1946.
Sullivans store was also distinguished by the fact that in all the years of its operation, Sullivan never had a partner except for his son, Gerald, in later years.
Michael Lang Grocery Store
First location of the store was on East Main, after a few years a move was made to the Mandan Hotel block. The next move which proved permanent was to a building constructed for Sullivan by L. N. Cary and later purchased by Sullivan. Store counters in the early days were a simple matter in that many were merely large wooden packing boxes covered with brown paper.
The Boston Cash Store, or what was later known as the Sullivan Store, is well remembered for its millinery deparment which for a good many years was conducted by Martha Sullivan, a hat designer and a trimmer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Martha was also a child of immigrants. Both of her parents were from Germany.
James and Martha L. Sullivan (born in Wisconsin in March 1870) were married in 1893 and had a total of seven children: Ruth F. (b. December 1893); Esther A. (b. March 1895); James J. (b. January 1898); Robert (August 1900); and Gerald (b. September 1902) plus one child who died in infancy.
The family resided on 2nd Ave NW in Mandan but J.O. and Martha moved into the boarding house ran by James and Laurine Rice.
Son Gerald took over operation of the store upon his fathers death on July 16, 1946 and sold out in 1948.Gerald subsequently partnered with Richard Baron and Delbert Skjod and operated Men's Mart clothing store in Mandan for many years.
In addition to Gerald, another son Robert Sullivan went to law school and was an attorney in St. Paul.A daughter, Ruth moved with her husband L A Wood to Arcadia, California.Another daughter, Esther Schifferman, relocated to Glendale, California.
The MHSoc's museum and office is located at 411 W Main St, Mandan, ND 58554 Contact us at email@example.com or leave message at (701) 751-2983