Monday, July 4, 2016

James Franklin Jollett's Kids: Laura Sullivan

As part of my “Genealogy Do-Over” efforts AND to force myself to get crackin’ on my James Franklin Jollett book, Jollett Reunion, I will be researching and writing brief biographies of James Franklin, his wives, and his children.
Laura Jollett calling card
Laura E. Jollett's calling card
courtesy of her granddaughters Mary Lee Farrar Upton
and Phyllis Farrar Carruthers
Child #3 of James Franklin and Lucy Ann Shiflett Jollett was Laura Etta, born May 30, 1865 in Greene County, Virginia. When she was 21, she married her childhood sweetheart, William J. Sullivan. Will’s sister Louisa had married Laura’s brother Burton Lewis just a few years before.

Laura and Will’s love for one another inspired their friends and family. On their 50th anniversary, their Sunday School class surprised them with a lavish anniversary party. Part of the program included a reading of their Love Story, written by one of the most popular school teachers in Page County, Miss Fannie Louderback. Three of the stories must have been memories shared with their children and family members over the years.

Supposedly Laura and Will, growing up on neighboring farms, played housekeeping games with Laura as wife and Will as husband. She claimed her favorite flower was Sweet William and his was the Laurel.

The simple life of students attending a country school is revealed in a story about how they enjoyed attending spelling matches. When a word was given to Will to spell, he responded, “L-A-U-R-A”; she blushed and hung her head.

Not long before they were engaged, Will came calling but apparently stayed too long for Laura’s father. When the clock struck ten, James Franklin called out, “Close the door from the outside, young man.” Laura handed Will his hat, and he sneaked a kiss.

Laura and Will were married in her home on January 14, 1886. The first three of five girls were born in Greene. By 1899, they were well-established across the mountain in Shenandoah, Virginia. Will was working as a drayman, an older term for someone who drove a flat-bed wagon pulled by horses or mules to deliver all kinds of goods.

The Sullivans about 1893
Laura and Will Sullivan
daughters Minnie and Pearl
about 1893 or 1894

Will was as smart as he was ambitious. For a time, he was Assistant Secretary of the YMCA; in other words, he helped manage the comings and goings of those who worked there or stayed there on a temporary basis. He also became a respected retail merchant running his own store.
4 of the Sullivan girls about 1900
Minnie Sullivan
Pearl, Elta, and Floral Sullivan
(about 1900 since Leota is not pictured)
Meanwhile Laura stayed busy as a mother of five daughters and as a volunteer with the Gleaners, a woman’s society in the United Brethren Church, where the Sullivans were charter members. She likely played an important role as “the woman behind the man” when Will stepped into the political arena. He served several terms on the town council and on the Page County School Board. He was a member of the Board of Directors at First National Bank.

Will died in 1942 and Laura in 1947.

Mary Frances Jollett Davis, Laura Jollett Sullivan, Sallie Jollett Clift 1923
My grandaunt Velma Davis Woodring
captioned this photo "The Three"
Top: Sallie Jollett Clift
Seated: Mary Frances Jollett Davis and Laura Sullivan

Laura Etta JOLLETT (30 May 1865 Greene Co, VA – 30 Jul 1947 Shenandoah, Page Co, VA) and William Jackson SULLIVAN (13 Jan 1866 Greene Co, VA – 22 May 1942 Shenandoah, Page Co, VA) married 14 Jan 1886 Greene Co, VA
  1. Minnie Belle SULLIVAN (21 Feb 1887 Greene Co, VA – 5 Jan 1952 Harrisonburg, VA) and John Wesley BREEDEN (15 May 1880 Rockingham Co, VA – 8 Aug 1961 Harrisonburg, VA) married about 1905
  2. Lula Pearl SULLIVAN (9 Jun 1891 Greene Co, VA – 29 May 1986 Annandale, VA) and Clyde Vernon STROLE (4 Feb 1893 Page Co, VA – 198 Mar 1951 Harrisonburg, VA) married 11 Jun 1913
  3. Floral Mae SULLIVAN (4 Mar 1895 Shenandoah, Page Co, VA – 14 Feb 1987 Chesapeake, VA) and Cletus Homer MERICA (23 Feb 1899 Elkton, VA – 11 Oct 1971 Elkton, VA) married 16 Sep 1941 Verona, VA
  4. Elta Gladys SULLIVAN (3 Aug 1899 Shenandoah, Page Co, VA – 14 Jan 1991 Chesapeake, VA) and Lewis Granville FARRAR (6 May 1898 Shenandoah, Page Co, VA – 13 Nov 1970 Portsmouth, VA) married before 1920
  5. Leota Clarice SULLIVAN (24 Dec 1901 Shenandoah, Page Co, VA – 26 Jan 1981 Winchester, VA) and Forrest Sheldon RACEY (9 Jun 1902 Hampshire Co, WV – 8 Jun 1988 Winchester, VA) married 3 Dec 1930 Page Co, VA

© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. I think it was a wonderful love story between them :)


    1. The stories tell me so much more than just about Laura and Will. I also get an idea about my 2X great-grandfather's personality -- love that!

  2. That's a lovely story Wendy, and great pictures as usual.

    1. Thanks, Dara. I was very excited to read the Love Story. There are 2 copies of it in a scrapbook now in the possession of Laura's granddaughters.

  3. So sweet and I love the photographs.

    1. I am lucky to have inherited these photos.

  4. Great story! Great post!

    Love Frank Jollett's comment about closing the door! Haha!

  5. I had to go back to your previous posts as I've been too busy to keep up with my reading. The Jollett Reunion is going to be a great book when it's finished. Such wonderful photographs for illustration. Loved the love story! ~ Cathy

  6. What a beautiful love story. I can imagine their daughters had a wonderful childhood, growing up in a home where the parents loved each other so much.

    1. Judging by the number of photos of the Sullivans, my grandfather and his sisters hung out with their Sullivan cousins more than with their other cousins living in the same town. That makes me think it was a really warm and loving household that made them WANT to be there.

  7. You have some amazing details to their love story!

    1. Laura's granddaughters have 2 copies of the love story that was read at the anniversary party. If it weren't for that, those stories would have been lost forever.