Sunday, October 14, 2012

Census Sunday: The Sullivans


Laura Jollett Sullivan, Will Sullivan
Laura and Will Sullivan
with some grandchildren

Judging by the number of photos of the Sullivans passed down through the family, I suppose my great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis and her sister Laura were very close and that the Sullivan and Davis cousins enjoyed each other as well.  In fact, I remember my grandparents getting together with the Sullivan girls frequently even in their older years. 

In the 1940 Shenandoah, Virginia census, William J. and Laura Sullivan, both age 74, were still living on North Third Street where they owned a home valued at $2000.  Uncle Will had only a fourth grade education, but he was a successful merchant who owned a store.  However, he claimed no income for 1939 yet worked 60 hours the last week of March 1940. 

Click to enlarge

Living with them was their daughter Floral (enumerated as Flora) who at age 44 was yet unmarried.  (Now I wonder when she and Cletus Merica married.)  She had three years of high school and was working as an assistant cashier at the bank.  Floral earned $900 for a full year’s work in 1939, which equates to about $14,917 today.  The last week of March 1940 she put in 48 hours.

Uncle Will was listed on one of the two lines that asked additional questions.  Two bits of information came to light:  he had no Social Security number and he was not a veteran of any military forces.

Click to enlarge
  
What the 1940 census does not reveal was Uncle Will’s service to the community as a member of the School Board and town council at different times.  He was also on the YMCA Board of Directors. 

Living right next door was their daughter Pearl (enumerated as Lula P.).  Her husband Clyde Strole (indexed on Ancestry as “Stoole”  but correctly on FamilySearch) was a brakeman for the railroad and earned $2411 in 1939, which is roughly $39,960 today.  They owned their home valued at $2500. Pearl had completed two years of high school and was listed as a homemaker with no income.  Their daughter Pauline at age 17 had completed three years of school.  She was not employed nor was she looking for work. 

Below are two views of what I think are the same house.  The first is Laura and Will's house as it looked in the 1920s.  The second is what I'm sure is the same house photographed but unidentified by my mother in the 1990s.  The widow's walk and peak on the roof are gone, but the sidelights at the front door, steps to a slightly raised porch and placement of columns are the same. 



Leota Sullivan, Pearl Sullivan Strole, Maxine Strole, Floral Sullivan
Leota, Pearl and daughter Maxine,
and probably Floral at the Sullivan house
about 1920 
Sullivan house Shenandoah, Virginia


9 comments:

  1. How delightful to learn about life for the Sullivans. I especially like the second to last photo, with them posing in front of the picket fence! The houses were so enchanting back then...! The little children all dressed up are so sweet too, with a bow tie even!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The house looked so nice with the widow's walk and the fence and trees. I can imagine it was so pretty.

      Delete
  2. Great photos and info. It's interesting to see what the salaries of people in the 1940 census equated to in today's dollars.

    The first photo is especially intriguing with the young girl and boy dressed up in what looks like a wedding dress and tuxedo. Do you know what the occasion was or if they were just playing dress-up?

    And congrats on getting the bonus questions for Uncle Will. That's always a nice surprise, isn't it?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wondered about the occasion of that photo too. Maybe they were a flower girl and ring bearer, but I don't know that people did all that back in the 1920s. My other thought was maybe a Tom Thumb wedding. I wish I knew.

      I love when my family got the bonus questions. My great-grandmother got them too, so that's 2 in the same BIG family.

      Delete
  3. Love the older picture of the house. Now, that's a home! I wonder what family occasion the first picture represents. My guess would be that the girl was a bridesmaid or flower girl in a wedding. Everyone looks so nicely dressed, even for that more formal age.

    Interesting how you put those wages in current-year terms. Even at that, it's not much money to survive on for an entire year. Life was so much simpler back then, for necessity's sake if nothing else.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the inflation calculator doesn't reflect how salaries might have been adjusted over the years. It's really "buying power" rather than a comparable salary.

      Delete
  4. What a grand hose the Sullivan house was! I would have loved to see the interior...I love the built ins in the dining rooms and the details inside and out. You don't find that in houses today.'

    Funny how women didn't "work" then....everything was hard work around the house then.
    Have a great week!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I fantasize about knocking on the door of an ancestor's house and asking if I can come in. I don't see that happening.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, Daddy tried that on Charleston Ave. LOL. He was turned down flat! I would love to go in Momma's birthplace home and her house before they moved to Cradock. We could probably get in that house since the lady that lives there is Scoop's neighbor.

      Delete