Joseph Ely Sullivan, Sr.

JOSEPH ELY SULLIVANJoseph Ely Sullivan was born Oct. 29, 1845 to John Sullivan and Eliza Schamp Sullivan in the family home at Pleasant Run, New Jersey. He was the fourth of then seven children in the family. When Joseph was only about seven years old his family planned to move to Texas. As the time of departure approached Eliza's father, Henry Schamp, was greatly saddened by the upcoming loss of his family. He prevailed on his daughter not to desert him entirely, but to leave one of the boys to cheer in his old age. He put his hand on the shoulder of little Joe and said, "You are my Boy!" The consequence being that the family went away leaving Joe behind. Joe did not seem disturbed, he felt at home in Pleasant Run and there was a rapport between him and his grandfather.

At 16 joined the 15th Regiment, Company A of New Jersey Volunteers. With his company, he engaged in hand-to-hand combat at Bloody Angle during the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse. He was wounded in the groin, and in spite of his rounds in and out of hospitals, the bullet was not taken out. First he was taken to the field hospital, then to Fredericksburg to a mansion, which had been converted into a hospital. It was named Kenmore, the home of Berry Washington Lewis, sister of George Washington. The large dinning room was used as the operating room. But Joe was not among those who were placed upon the operating table to have legs or arms amputated. And he thank God he was not among them. He could still hear their screams and groans. Instead, he was sent to Carver Hospital in Washington for three months. From there he was sent to the state hospital in Newark, N.J. The bullet was still with him. By his own request he was sent back to his own company and regiment and was with them at the close of the war. He had returned to Pleasant Run for a visit with his uncle. Never having been extracted, the bullet had begun to settle until it finally traveled down the leg just above the knee. His brother, using a penknife and large pincers, later extracted it. Joe declared that the coming out was worse than the going in.

In the fall of 1865, the war was over. Life was settling down in San Patricio. Eliza could account for all her children but Joe. There had been no communication during the war so that she was unaware of what had happened in New Jersey. She busied herself running her boarding house. One evening a young stranger of medium height and slender build arrived at the boarding house for supper. He did not introduce himself but seemed to enjoy the food. When supper was over the young man reached over and put his hand on Eliza's. She looked at him in astonishment. Then he said softly, "Mother, I'm Joe.". Eliza turned pale and fainted. When she revived, there was great rejoicing. All gathered round to hear his story. He told him how he had missed them as a child. He looked with surprise at Emilia and John Webb, a sister and a brother he had never seen. The rest he had not seen for twelve years. Much had changed, in addition to the two new siblings. His father had died, as had two of his brothers: James Robert from a head injury sustained when a horse kicked him and Chrys at Bayou Teche in LA fight with the Confederate Army.

Joe settled down to life in Texas with the rest of his family. Joe was not without problems. One of which was being shunned by the young ladies of San Patrcio because he was a "Yankee" This, no doubt, was another of the wounds of war which had not yet healed. Later Joe went to Galveston and there met Theresa Holly, who had emigrated to Texas from Austria with her family. Her mother and father were victims of yellow fever and died in Galveston soon after their arrival. The Ursaline Nuns raised Theresa and her sisters. Two of her sisters joined the order. It seems that Joe's being a "Yankee" did not affect Theresa's love for him. On Dec. 1, 1871 the couple were married. They moved to a house on Round Lake close to Old San Patricio and were blessed with six children.

Sadly, Joe died by his own hand Sep 3, 1903. His wife was also wounded, in the incident but survived to live a long and fruitful life.

Exerpts from: The Forgotten Colony, San Patricio de Hibernia, Rachel B. Hebert, Eakin Press, 1981 Page 312-328

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