City Bosses in the United States: A Study of Twenty Municipal Bosses

By Harold B. Zink | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI
ROGER C. SULLIVAN

The political career of Roger Sullivan covers roughly the same period as that of Frederick Lundin, the "Mystery Man of Chicago." Becoming active in the game during the eighties, Mr. Sullivan experienced many of the ups and downs that inevitably accompany such a career but managed to gradually augment his power, until for the ten years preceding his death in 1920 he handled Democratic affairs in Chicago and Cook County as master.

With a father who had emigrated to the United States Mr. Sullivan belonged to the ranks of the Irish in racial stock. He was born February 3, 1861, on a farm near Belvidere, Boone County, Illinois. The Sullivan family, which included nine children, lived for some years on the farm, deprived of many of the advantages which money provides. After the premature death of the father Roger, at the time a mere lad, helped eke out a meager living for younger brothers and sisters.1

Because of the general poverty of the family as well as the early death of the father, young Sullivan, who was then commonly known as "Roger" as he was by intimates and strangers alike throughout life, did not complete grammar school. Instead, according to his own testimony, he went to work as a farm hand at a wage of eight dollars per month.2 At the age of eighteen years he concluded that he had had enough of Boone County farming, journeyed to Chicago, and obtained a job in the West Side railroad machine shops.

____________________
1
The author is indebted to Mr. Boetius Sullivan for information concerning the family and early life of Roger Sullivan. Additional information may be had in the New York Tribune, September 8, 1906, 2:2; New York Times, April 15, 1920, 11:4; and Chicago Tribune, October 28, 1914, 1:1, and April 29, 1920, 13:1.
2
See Chicago Tribune, October 28, 1914, 1:1.

-291-

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