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The Sullivan Family
of Sullivan Station, Surrey, BC

Photos and information are based on a slide presentation created by Bob O'Brien.

Presented with the permission of the Sullivan Family.

The Sullivan Family that became the basis of the Sullivan Community in Surrey, BC was founded by three brothers; Tom, Henry and Jeremiah (Jerry) Sullivan.

The 3 Sullivan Brothers

The three Sullivan Brothers after whom the community of Sullivan is named. Jerry is on the left with some of his children. Henry is in the center. Tom is on the right.

The Sullivan's origins are from southern Ireland and the County Kerry.
In County Kerry you can see the red arrow pointing to the City of Tralee.

Birth Certificate Map of Ireland

Sullivan Family Tree

Jeremiah Sullivan I was born in Tralee on the 19th day of November 1800, over 200 years ago. Jeremiah I married Mary Howard and they had two sons; Thomas and John. About 1848-49, the time of the potato famine in Ireland, Jeremiah's wife, Mary Howard, died. Jeremiah I, with son Thomas and Thomas' wife Mary Reynolds and two children, Mary and Jeremiah II, left Ireland and sailed to New York. They were only there a short time and then moved to Kingsbridge, Ontario.

In Ontario the daughter Mary married Thomas Buckley. The son Jeremiah II (born in 1838) married Ellen Browne in January 1866 and they had 10 children. They also had twin boys that died at an early age.

Jerry Sullivan Family Tree

This story traces four of those 10 children; Thomas, Henry B., Jeremiah III (Jerry or Jeremiah), and Mary Catherine.

Henry B. Sullivan

One of the boys, Henry B. Sullivan, was a timber cruiser, who decided to come west around 1898/99. He worked in Oregon and Washington part–time with Weyerhauser. Henry had a cousin with money, J.K. Stack, of Iron River, Michigan, and Henry used his finances to buy up timber in Oregon and Washington.

In 1900 Henry Sullivan came to Surrey, via the Semiahmoo Trail, and to the Johnston Settlement (the Sullivan area). He sent a message back home to Kingsbridge saying the timber here was the best he had ever seen, forget the timber in Washington and Oregon, just send money to start a saw mill here.

Tree Crowns Trees

Trees Mist in the trees

These pictures show the magnificent stands of timber that Henry must have seen when he first came to the Sullivan District.

Henry got the money, continued logging, and around 1902 built a saw mill in partnership with a man named Tom Hyland. The mill was called the Sullivan and Hiland Lumber Company Ltd., and eventually became one of the largest on the west coast. Tom Hyland's family name was Hyland with a "y", but in his early business association with Henry Sullivan the "y" was dropped to become an "i".

Trestle logging engine

The earliest logging operations used horse teams to skid the logs to the local rivers or rail lines. Here a load of shingle bolts is moved across a company built trestle. Later as the operation matured logging railways using this engine hauled the timber to the Sullivan Mills.

Sullivan Hiland lumber Mill

The Sullivan Hiland Lumber Company mill was located on the north west corner of Johnston Road and Bose Road bordering Mahood Creek. The Mill is on the left and the bunk houses for the Chinese workers are on the right.

Tom Sullivan

Henry's older brother Tom left his father's farm in Kingsbridge, Huron County, to work in Colorado. He worked the smelters in Denver; prospected in Cripple Creek; and while he was engaged in mining in Leadville, Colorado Tom had an accident with an ore car that resulted in him losing a leg. He was in a Leadville hospital for two months, was sent on to a Chicago hospital, and returned home to Kingsbridge for a year to recover. In 1898 Tom Sullivan went to northern Michigan to work in a saw mill where he earned steam engineering and saw filing tickets. He then worked in a saw mill in Camden, Arkansas for a year and then moved to Chicago. He left Chicago and was in charge of a saw mill in Post Falls, Idaho, for a short time. That same year while wintering in Everett, Washington, he learned from his brother Henry in Surrey that the saw mill was doing very well and he was asked by Henry to join him. Henry was a logger, Tom a mill man.

Tom Sullivan joined his brother Henry in Surrey in 1903. He was well experienced from his previous work and he knew machinery and equipment. In 1906 the Sullivan brothers, who at first devoted all their time to lumber, built a four story shingle mill complex called Surrey Shingle Manufacturing Company; this included the mill, offices, bunkhouses for the Chinese workers, and barns for 100 horses. Tom Sullivan became its managing director.

Blacksmith Sullivan Barn and Team

Cook and crew Crew and Teams

The Sullivan Brother's operation involved logging and farming. With over 100 horses to support the logging operations, farming was an extensive and important part of the business. Blacksmith shops, barns, and bunk houses were all part of the operation. The Blacksmith shop was owned by Bill Tarves the brother of Jean Tarves who married Jeremiah. The Blacksmith shop was located across the road from the Sullivan Store. The Sullivan Brothers' Barn was located in the North-east corner section of the Johnston Road and Bose Road. It was north of Mahood Creek.

Old Spring on Sullivan Property Old well water pipe

Water for the mills came from springs on the west of the Sullivan homestead (former O'Brien property). The springs are now registered in Victoria as Jean's springs No.1 and No.2. The four inch pipe is still there and runs under 64th Avenue to the former mill site.

Jeremiah (Jerry) Sullivan

Things continued to prosper at the two mills, the saw mill and the shingle mill, so word was sent out for the youngest brother Jeremiah to also come to Sullivan. Jeremiah (Jerry) was working for the Rock Island Railway in Chicago at the time as a male secretary to the President of the company. Jerry came out to Sullivan around 1909-10 to look after the offices and act as timekeeper/bookkeeper. His brother Tom Sullivan had just become Reeve of Surrey, a position he held for 11 straight terms. Shortly after Jerry arrived he set up a store to provide supplies for the workers at Surrey Shingle Mfg. Co. The Sullivan Store carried a little bit of everything; animal feed, shoes, drugs, candy, tobacco, hardware, groceries, dry goods, and a post office. The post office became Sullivan Station, B.C.; the name station deriving from the B.C. Electric train station stop. Sullivan Store also had a dance hall upstairs and as the little community of Sullivan grew, the name Sullivan Station stuck. Later, one of the first telephones in Surrey was installed in the store. The phone number was Cloverdale No.1 which was later changed to Newton No.1.


Jerry started the store in the timekeepers' office of the mill. However, as demand grew a store was constructed on the west side of Johnston Road. It was a general store with a post office and a hall on the upper story. The building to the left of the store acted as the local Sullivan Hotel.

About the same time, 1910, three important events occurred. The B.C. Electric Railway was constructed through Sullivan and provided passenger service to New Westminster and Vancouver as well as east to Chilliwack. The first sawmill, Sullivan Hiland Lumber Co., burned down. Thirdly, a young lady, Jean Tarves, 14 years old, arrived from Scotland.

Sullivan crews building BC Electric Sullivan Station

Sullivan logging crews were contracted to build the road bed for the BC Electric Railway from Newton to Cloverdale. The station in Sullivan gave the community its name Sullivan Station.

The mill business continued to prosper and the three Sullivan brothers acquired more land and timber. At one point in time they owned all the flat–lands from Sullivan Station to Fry's Corner; some 2,000 to 3,000 acres. The brothers also carried on farming on a large scale. A lot of hay was needed to feed over 100 horses.

Tom Sullivan had an unfortunate accident while in Sullivan. One day while putting in fence posts Tom Dixon crashed a 12 pound sledgehammer down on Tom's hand amputating several fingers.

Tom Sullivan was Reeve of Surrey from 1910 to 1920. His interests were always along the ones of progress and advancement, which characterized his administration. Tom Sullivan helped form the Surrey Dyke Commission and was its president. This Commission resulted in the building of the concrete dams which helped control tidal water and reclaimed some 130,000 acres.
(See Surrey Dyking District)

By the 1920's the timber started to run out and the partnership with Tom Hyland was dissolved. Henry Sullivan died in the mid 1920's. With the Crash of 1929 and the Dirty 30's, things became very difficult and the Sullivan brothers lost most of their land holdings. In 1930 Tom Sullivan ran a one-horse operation at Colebrook, which was called Tom Sullivan Lumber Mfg. Jeremiah Sullivan passed away in 1935 and his brother Tom in 1942.

Mary Catherine Sullivan

Mary Catherine was one of the sisters to the three Sullivan Brothers. She married Angus Malott and they had a son Bart. Bart married Ann Gauthier and they had three children; Connie, Cathleen and Neil.

Here is a brief family tree showing the various Sullivan families.

Sullivan Family Tree

Thomas Joseph Sullivan, the oldest, married Dora Woempner on Nov. 20,1907. She was from Iron River, Michigan. They had three children, Tom, Marie, and Laurie. Marie married Jim Donald and they had three children, Ian, Keith, and Paul.

Henry and Lena

Thomas J. Sullivan (Tom) Married Dorothea Woempner (Dora) on November 20, 1907. This is their wedding picture. They had three children: Tom, Marie, and Laurie.

Henry B. Sullivan, is the brother who came to Surrey first and started the mill. He married Lena Woempner (sister to Tom Sullivan's wife). They had five children, Harry, Lillian, Clayton, Helen, and Frank. Harry married Ruth Billidou, their children were Peter and Patsy. Lilly married Jack Brown, their children were Bev and Val. Clayton married Lil Alden (a school teacher in Sullivan), their children were Joan and Helen. Helen married John Garrett and had one child, Patrick. Helen later married Eric Richardson of Calgary. Frank married Edna Sanderson, their children were Harry and Fred. When Henry B's wife Lena died, after the birth of her fifth child, Henry married Elizabeth Woempner, a sister to both Dora and Lena. So two brothers married three sisters.

Sullivan Family Portrait Older Sullivans

This is Henry Sullivan's family. The first picture is Henry B. surrounded by his children and the second picture shows the same family as the kids matured.

Sullivan home in 1905 Sullivan home in 1905

Elizabeth Sullivan or Liz was an important member of New Westminster society and she and Henry had a house at No.47 Albert Crescent in New Westminster from 1912.

A sunday outing in the car

Tom Sullivan and Tom Hyland are in a McLaughlin touring car in Sullivan around 1918 just south of the BCER tracks. Sullivan Station is seen just off the rear of the car. Tom Sullivan is the driver on the left, with Tom Hyland the passenger. In the rear seat is Mrs. Hyland, in the centre Dorothea (Dora)Sullivan and on the far side Elizabeth Sullivan.

Hollow Tree Stanley Park

This picture is Henry Sullivan in a Ford touring car in front of the hollow tree in Stanley Park. The boy up front with Henry is his son Clayton. The girl behind Henry is Georgie Stone. The boy in front of her is William Stone. The girl standing behind them is Marie Sullivan (daughter of Tom and Dora Sullivan). Next is Lillian Sullivan the eldest daughter of Henry. The lady seated is Elizabeth Stone (Lizzie), and at the rear of the car is Helen Anna Sullivan daughter of Henry. The picture was taken circa 1915.

Jeremiah Sullivan III or Jeremiah, the youngest brother, married Jean Tarves on Dec. 20, 1911.

Jerry and Jean Sullivan

This picture is Jerry and Jeans wedding portrait. Note, Jean is wearing a pocket pendant watch on her left side, a wedding present.

Sullivan Family of 5

Here are Jerry and Jean three years later. Now they have three babies; Jim, Myrtle, and Reenie. Jean is still wearing the pendant watch.

Two sets of twins

The babies just seemed to keep coming. The 1935 local paper had this article on 2 sets of twins; Jean and Gerrie, Hardy and Marg.

May Day in front of the Store May Pole Dance

Here is one pair of those twins at a Sullivan May Day in front of the Sullivan Store. This May Pole dance was conducted in the field with the Sullivan barn in the background.

Jerry's family of 11

This formal family portrait shows Jeremiah III (Jerry) and Jean and all the family. There were 13 children at that time. The picture is taken in Jerry and Jean's sitting room in their home at Sullivan Station.

Helen Sullivan's home

Here is Tom Sullivan's home on Queen's Avenue in New Westminster. It was built about 1915. In front of the home are Tom's family.

A Portrait of the Sullivan Men

This picture shows four generations of men. Seated is Harry Sullivan (as a boy). On the left hand side; Harry's dad Henry. On the right hand side; Harry's grandfather Jeremiah II (who is also father to Tom and Henry and Jeremiah III). In the middle back is Thomas Sullivan, son of Jeremiah the first and father of Jeremiah the second.

A Portrait of the Sullivan Ladies

You will recall that Jeremiah II (born in 1838) married Ellen Browne in January 1866 and they had 10 children. This picture shows the ladies of the Brown family. Mary Clayton Brown (mother of Ellen Brown) is seated second left. Mary Brown Mckenna (Ellen Brown's sister) is standing. Sarah Mckenna Dee is sitting on the far right and her daughter Irene Dee is standing on the far left. This picture was taken sometime before Mary Clayton Brown died.

From the three Sullivan brothers living in Sullivan and one sister living in Ontario the number of offspring has been prolific.

This is the family reunion held in 1985.
1985 Sullivan group picnic

This is the next reunion held in Sullivan Park in 1990.

1990 Sullivan group picnic

This next picture was taken at the 1990 reunion when the fire hose was turned on the crowd.

Turning the fire hose on the crowd

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