Patrick Sullivan         -- Mini bio

Patrick Sullivan

Our ancestor, Patrick Sullivan was born in about 1822 in Ireland to Jeremy Sullivan and Helene Drulhal.  Very little is known of his family, except that the names of his parents were listed on his marriage record.  It is doubtful that either of them ever left Ireland. 

Patrick migrated to eastern Canada when in his mid-twenties, along with an older brother, Dennis Sullivan.   We know of no other siblings for this family but being Irish Catholics, it is highly likely they came from a much larger family back in Ireland.

Due to the great Irish potato famine in the mid-1840’s millions of immigrants sailed for the US, and Canada.  Work was scarce but the Irish were in abundance.  In North America Catholics were not well received and the poor Irish were considered to be among the least desirable.  These young men were willing to take the jobs no one else wanted.  They worked hard to make a living and received very poor pay for their efforts.

North of Ottawa, across the river by that name, was the long and beautiful valley of the Gatineau River.  The Sullivan boys made their living in the logging business clearing land for future farmers to settle.   Soon Patrick had caught the eye of Miss Mary Kelly.   In 1850, Pat was about 28 years old while Mary was just 17.  Although they befriended Pat, Mary’s parents did not encourage the courtship.  Their grandson, Thomas M. McDonald stated that they eloped to get married, but once that decision was made, the Kelly family accepted them back in their good graces.

The first actual record we have found of Patrick was for this wedding, which took place on 29 April 1850 at Pointe-Gatineau, Quebec (at the spot where the Gatineau empties into the Ottawa River.)

Tom McDonald tells us that Pat and Mary made their home in Low Twp. in Gatineau County, along the Gatineau River just about four miles north of where Andy and Emily McDonald lived, and near where the Kellys also lived.  There they were blessed with 16 children over the next 26 years of their lives.  Their third child, Eleanor Sullivan grew up to marry a local boy, Michael McDonald and they settled near his parents, where their son, Thomas McDonald (Father of Don, and Grandfather of Bette McDonald Nebeker) lived near both sets of grandparents. 

As the Sullivan children grew, Pat taught his sons the hard labor of working in the lumber camps.  Again, his grandson, Tom, says that the men would often go far away, as the forests receded, to spend the extremely cold winters chopping down trees with double-bitted axes so they could float large log jams down the river to the sawmills in the spring. 

In one of these floating log jams, Pat’s second oldest son, Jeremiah Sullivan, at the age of 20, was drowned in a tragic logging accident.  It was several weeks before his body was recovered down-stream, and this was a great trial to the entire family, especially for his mother, but also for his sister, Eleanor, who was just two years younger and who had been very close to him. 

Three months after the death of this son, Mary gave birth to another little boy, who they also named Jeremiah, as a memorial to his recently deceased brother.  However, this second “Jerry” was a dwarf and never grew taller than about three and a half feet.  He made his living acting on stage in parts fit for his unusual size. 

In 1881 Patrick, Mary and their expanding family were still located in Low Twp. of the Gatineau County, Quebec, but by this time so much of the forests had been logged off that the family began looking for other places to work.  Some of his grown sons, along with other men from that area, moved to Wisconsin where they learned that virgin forests were still available for the harvesting.  By 1884 Pat and Mary had also followed most of their family to Wisconsin, settling in Wausau, in Marathon County.  By that time Pat was 62 years old and the logging business was meant for younger men.  We find no more record of Patrick Sullivan.  He died there sometime between 1884 and 1900.  His wife, Mary Kelly Sullivan, continued to live in Wausau, WI until her death on 16 March 1903.  She was buried in the Wausau City Cemetery, presumably near Pat’s grave. 

Mary Kelly, wife of Patrick Sullivan.

Photo taken at about age 17,

shortly after the birth of her first child,


Eleanor Sullivan McDonald,

daughter of Patrick Sullivan and Mary Kelly;

wife of Michael McDonald;

mother of Thomas M. McDonald and

Grandmother of Don McDonald,

Born 11 July 1854, Low, Gatineau, Quebec.



Jeremiah “Jerry” Sullivan,

son of Patrick & Mary (Kelly) Sullivan. 

Brother of Eleanor Sullivan McDonald.

Born 1 Aug. 1873 in Low, Gatineau, Quebec.