Richard Hughes Sullivan, local forecaster of the United States weather bureau at Wichita, Kan., and a lecturer of much ability on meteorology, climatology and other scientific subjects, is a man of high character and exceptional ability for whom Kansas is indebted to the State of Indiana. He was born in the city of Madison, Dec. 11, 1863. Next to good brains and blood in making up a man comes his environment, the conditions upon which are opened in his neighborhood the golden gates of opportunity. The place of his birth, his surroundings during his youth and young manhood and the people among whom he grew up are best described in Mr. Sullivan's own words in reminiscence: "Madison is a historic city, the home of many representatives of the intellectual, social and commercial aristocracy of the State of Indiana, and whose descendants have scattered to the four corners of the United States. None of the antebellum residents of southern Indiana could fail to call to mind the Hendrickses, the Harrisons, the Marshalls, the Brights, the Blackmores, the Whartons, the Inskeeps, the Hugheses, the Pages, the Laneers and multitudes of others that might he named, remains of many of whom now repose in the cemeteries of Madison. Thomas A. Hendricks graduated from Hanover College, six miles below Madison, and President Harrison's first wife, Caroline Scott, was a daughter of a professor of Hanover, when Harrison attended that college. The father of Walter L. Fisher, at present secretary of the interior, was president of Hanover College when I was a boy. Nowhere can be found more beautiful hills, dips, parks, water-falls and vine-clad ravines than are to be seen within a few miles of little old Madisonthe same then, the same now. I know the place, every foot of the hills, for do not my feet still bear marks of the stone bruises of my youth? On the walls of my present home is a large oil painting of the Ohio river from Hanover Point, by Harry Billiard, whose wife was one of the old Lodge family. In that picture I can see the slough from one of the hill streams in which I and my brothers and other boys used to 'waller' after a swim in the Ohio. Across from the city is the willow-lined strand of Kentucky where the same boys used to swim and afterwards catch the little soft-shelled turtles no larger than a quarter. Opposite Broadway, at the west end of the strand, back in a wide gap, rises the site of the old Indian fort, where these same boys used to take a shower bath. We would then range the briar-clad hills for wild fruits and berries."
Mr. Sullivan is the son of William Blackmore Sullivan, whose parents, Aaron and Lucinda (Blackmore) Sullivan, came to southern Indiana from the English settlements in Virginia and Maryland when the exodus to Kentucky and to what was then the Northwest took place. The original name was O'Sullivan, and the original ancestors in America came to this country about the time of the revolutions in England in connection with Charles I and II. They were Protestants from the north of Ireland. Aaron Sullivan was a man of high standing in his community and was a Union sympathizer during the Civil war. He died in Jefferson City, Mo., at the home of a son. His wife died during the youth of their sons, William B. and Alfred, and was buried at Madison, Ind. Major William B. Sullivan, the father of our subject, was reared in the home of his uncle, Dawson Blackmore, who was said to have been the first male child born at Madison. The Blackmores came to Indiana from the vicinity of Baltimore in an early day and always occupied a high position in the social and business world. William B. Sullivan developed into an experienced business man and an expert accountant. He became financially interested in several importing grocery and produce houses and finally launched in the general steamboating business before the war, in connection with relatives by the name of Wharton. During the war, one of their boats, the City Belle, was the first to bring in Union soldiers after the surrender at Vicksburg. Major Sullivan was a northern sympathizer, and though he never served in the army he greatly assisted the Union cause through his business of common carrier, transporting Grant's and other Union troops, and it was thus he came by his sobriquet "Major." His wife was from Kentucky and wholly in sympathy with that state's attitude. Increasing railroads and other circumstances resulted in a general decline of river transportation and a consequent depreciation in the value of river property, so that by the time of the Jay Cooke failure, all hands, including Major Sullivan, went under. Being subject to vertigo, his death resulted in 1881 from a fall from an upper story window. He lies buried in Fairmount cemetery at Madison, Ind. A gentleman of culture and refinement and a sympathetic and loving companion in his family, his memory is deeply cherished and revered by his surviving children.
The mother of the subject was Mary Esther Hughes, a daughter of Richard Franklin and Sarah Jane (Hughes) Hughes, both of the old Hughes family of Jefferson county, Kentucky. Her birth, education, training and social ideas were all of the type common to the slaveholding aristocracy of the South. She was a woman of unusual strength of character and intellectuality and of superior business judgment, and through her gentleness of manner left an impress upon the general family history. The Kentucky branch of the Hughes family was founded by John Hughes, born in Virginia, Aug. 11, 1763, who was but thirteen years of age when the Declaration of Independence was signed at Philadelphia. During the earlier years of the Revolution he was a student in Washington-Henry Academy in Hanover county, but in 1779 he ran away and enlisted as a private soldier, serving as such for two years. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 1781 and acted as captain during the siege of Yorktown. He married in 1783, Ann, daughter of Col. William Meriweather, of Albemarle county, Virginia, and resided for several years on the plantation in Powhatan county which he had inherited from his father. In 1786 he removed to Kentucky and settled on a 1,000 acre tract in Jefferson county, about seven miles west of Louisville. He served in the war of 1812, in which he attained the rank of major. He died Dec. 11, 1842, and was buried in the family graveyard on his own plantation. He was the largest slave owner in Kentucky at the time of his death. John, the eldest son of Major John Hughes, married Esther, daughter of Richard and Nancy Neville (Hughes) Cox; their son, Richard Franklin Hughes, married Sarah Jane Hughes, a cousin. The latter were the grandparents of our subject, Richard Hughes Sullivan. The grandfather died in his twenty-seventh year, leaving a young widow and three children, one of whom was Mary Esther (Hughes) Sullivan, the mother of our subject. The grandmother remained a widow to her death, which occurred at Madison, Ind., on Feb. 28, 1882, at the age of sixty-six years. Mary Esther Hughes was married to William Blackmore Sullivan at Madison, Ind., Oct. 18, 1859, and of the eleven children born of their union but two surviveWarwick Sullivan and Richard Hughes Sullivan, of this review. She died at Grand Junction, Col., on Feb. 4, 1904, aged sixty-four years, and lies in the family lot in Fairmount cemetery, Madison, Ind. The original ancestor of this branch of the Hughes family in America was Stephen Hughes, who was born in Caernarvonshire, Wales, Feb. 12, 1687. His son John was the father of Major John Hughes, the great great-grandfather of our subject. Among the family connections of the common ancestor, Stephen Hughes, were Patrick Henry, Joseph E. Johnston, and the founders of some of the most prominent families of the old Southern aristocracy. In England and Wales the lineage is traced back to Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, the House of Cecil and other noble families of the British Isles. The Hughes family is of fighting stock, for each generation has been well represented in the soldiery of our country.
Richard Hughes Sullivan, of this review, was reared at Madison, Ind., and was educated in the common and high schools of that city and under private tutors in the academical and collegiate branches of science, Latin, English and history. After leaving school he first served as a clerk, but later he took a position with Levey Brothers to learn the printer's trade. Upon that firm's removal to Indianapolis Mr. Sullivan obtained a position with the "Madison Courier," a paper that has been published there since 1837. There he passed through all the stages from shoveling coal under a boiler for a four-horsepower engine to run the presses to a typesetter at ten to fifteen cents per 1,000 ems; an occasional reporter, a pressman, a job and book printer and a general printer, finally leaving the "Courier" office to become foreman of the Vevay, Ind., "Reveille." In 1884 he went to Louisville, Ky., to "carve out" a career as a journeyman printer and general newspaper man. His first position was with a book printing firm; later he became connected with the "Courier-Journal" as a compositor, with occasional side work as a reporter. From there he went to the "New Orleans Picayune;" afterwards to the "Cincinnati Times-Star," "Pittsburgh Post" and "Commercial Gazette," Government Printing Office, "Washington Post," "New York Herald," "Boston Globe," "Richmond (Va.) Whig" and "Post-Dispatch," "Norfolk Landmark," and "Jacksonville Times Union," gathering all the while a knowledge of methods and of men. Meanwhile his natural bent for heavy reading was followed and a systematic course of study pursued. While at Boston and Newton (Mass.) he had the added advantage of cultured friends and acquaintances incident to the great Harvard influences. The free-and-easy methods of newspaper men at that time made the general atmosphere of that profession uncongenial to Mr. Sullivan, and he determined to seek a better position in life than that field offered. He returned to Louisville, where he diligently pursued his studies, hoping to enter some scientific branch of the government service; and application was finally made for entry into the signal corps of the U. S. army, with a view to becoming identified with the meteorological service. After passing the entrance and physical examinations successfully, he was detailed as observer at Indianapolis under the late C. F. R. Wappenhans, who was then in charge. Mr. Sullivan enlisted Sept. 24, 1887. Since then his assignments have been as follows: Kansas City, Mo.; Denver, Col., first assistant; Indianapolis a second time, as printer and first assistant; Nashville, Tenn., special detail; Grand Junction, Col., in charge; Wichita, Kan., in charge. He enlisted as a private, signal corps, U. S. army, at Indianapolis, and served three years and eight months, or until he received his honorable discharge, by special act of Congress, on June 30, 1891, when the meteorological service of the army was transfered[sic] to the agricultural department, to be known as the U. S. weather bureau.
Politically Mr. Sullivan is Democratic as to tariff for revenue only, but is progressive irrespective of party. With a mind trained to think along scientific lines, he holds individual views on many of the important topics of the day, such as our present and proposed currency and banking system, the tariff and other questions on economics. He is a member of the Indiana Society, Sons of the Revolution. He is also a member of the Woodmen of the World, Pacific jurisdiction, in which he has held the offices of manager and adviser lieutenant; and is president of the Audubon Society of Kansas, which has done effectual work in making the present game and bird laws of the state possible. He and his family are communicants of the Episcopal church.
At Kansas City, Mo., on June 10, 1890, Mr. Sullivan was united in marriage to Miss Clara Alda Amberg, the daughter of Charles Frederick and Susan (Hummer) Amberg. The ancestors of Mrs. Sullivan's mother were among the Pennsylvania Dutch and were originally from the Netherlands. The paternal grandfather of Mrs. Sullivan was a native Dutchman, whose name was von Omburgh, which was Americanized into Amberg by his children. Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan have three children: Esther Louise, Warwick Amberg and Richard Franklin.
The declining fortunes of Major William B. Sullivan occurred during the most crucial period of his son Richard's young manhood. Although deprived by untimely death of the invaluable counsel of a father, friends familiar with these darker periods have heard him say: "Whatever success that has been mine must be ascribed to the guidance and encouragement of my mother, whose type is the bulwark of the Republic." Years have been spent in diligent study and research, and he is today among the most efficient members of his profession in the United States and a lecturer of marked ability. His services in the latter respect have been availed of by various business associations, horticultural societies, farmers' institutes, clubs, high schools and colleges, on various subjects and he is also appreciated as a writer of articles for newspapers and other publications. A few of his addresses and lectures follow:
Three lectures before the high school of Grand Junction, Col.The Atmosphere, Four Types of Storms Common to the United States, The Weather Bureau, illustrated with steropticon.
The General Work of the National Weather Service, address with steropticon illustrations, court house, Grand Junction, Col.
Since coming to Kansas the following addresses, lectures or papers have been, read or delivered:
So-Called Change of Climate in the Semi-arid West. Address before the Bankers' Association meeting at Anthony, Kan., in 1907. This address, rewritten, was published in the Year Book of the Department of Agriculture in 1908.
Protecting Orchards from Spring Frosts, County Horticultural Society.
Relation of the Weather Bureau to Horticulture. Kansas State Horticultural Society, 1910. This paper deals with orchard heating in all its technical details, obtained from series of laborious tests and experiments.
The U. S. Weather BureauIts Scope; Climatology of Wichita and Sedgwick County; So-called Change of Climate. Published in History of Sedgwick County, Kansas.
Conservation of Moisture for the Proper Growth of Vegetation. An address for the farmer.
Economic Value of Bird Life. Published in College Extension Leaflet, Manhattan Agricultural College.
Precipitation, Forests and Stream Flow. Library Club, Wichita.
Food Habits of the Commoner Birds. Ornithology class, second semester, 1910, Fairmount College.
Migration of Birds, Ornithology class, second semester, 1911, Fairmount College.
The Origin of Things as Viewed by the Scientific Christian. Plymouth, Fellowship and United Brethren churches and Colored Y. M. C. A.
The Treachery of Absalom. A lecture.
The Woman in History. A lecture.
The Militant Church. A lecture.
History and Theories of Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions.Pages 1394-1399 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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