William Harrison Sullivant

    My father moved his family to Northport when I was in the fourth grade and for a few days each summer and often during the Christmas Holidays, I would be farmed out to my country kinfolk's. This would occur whenever there was sickness in my immediate family but I suspect it would also happen for the peace and quiet of the greater Northport area.

    Usually, I would stay with my father’s Aunt Mandy Wicker. Aunt Mandy lived on Highway 171 about twelve miles northwest of Northport. This is really a shortcut road between Northport and Fayette but is a good paved state highway with lots of truck traffic. I remember pumping my arm to make the drivers blow their loud air horn. I also remember Aunt Mandy’s bathroom. It was between the smokehouse and a small shed, under a Chinaberry tree. There was no outhouse, it was just out there.

    A few more miles towards Fayette, at Moores Bridge, sometimes I would stay with my mother’s brother, Uncle Leon and Aunt Polly Ellis. Aunt Polly is a granddaughter of Wiley Sullivant, older brother of my great grandfather William Harrison Sullivant, both sons of Bill and Harriet. Therefore, Polly is also my second cousin three times removed. That is a fancy way of saying fifth cousin.

    Leon’s son Eddie is just a couple of years older than me and made a great playmate. Leon also had pigs, which were fun to call at feeding time. He also owned a fishing lake. There were two other Sullivan families in early Tuscaloosa County to whom I have not proven any relationship, however I know any Sullivan that does not like to fish is no relative of mine. So, when I stayed with Uncle Leon, I was in hog heaven.

    During the summer of 1960, I was sent to stay with my father’s Uncle Doss and Aunt Evie. Many people remember the late Dr. J.C. Guin Jr. Few people know that his father was also a doctor and was best friends with my Uncle Doss. They spent so much time together that with Dr. Guin’s medical knowledge and my Uncle Doss’s personal experience, one day they determined that all the nutrients needed to sustain life could be found in cornbread and Jack Daniels.

    Uncle Doss’s house was on the Brownville road near Mud Creek. It is still a dirt road today. During the two or three days that I was there, I can remember only one car passing by. I soon learned that my ancestors didn’t come from the country. We were in the woods. It was a fun place. I learned not to pickup snakes unless they were green ones, how to fish for doodle bugs and how to tie sewing thread to the leg of a June bug, so he would fly around my head. I found out stink bugs worked just as well and they had the added feature of smelling like truck exhaust fumes.

    Aunt Evie was a real sweetheart of a lady but was blind in one eye. She kept that good eye sharp by making sure everything stayed absolutely clean and that included visiting relatives. Early in the afternoon of the second day my Uncle Arnold made the mistake of walking over for a visit. Arnold was my father’s brother, both sons of Jonas Lester Sullivan. Grandfather Jonas and Arnold lived across the road in the Sulfur Springs house, near the banks of Sipsey River. Sadly, Arnold was killed serving his second tour in Vietnam in 1968.

    I never knew Arnold to fret about anything. Not even when Evie called out” Arnold, take Mike down to the creek an’ ya’ll git ah bath”. He wasn’t arguing when he told her he didn’t need a bath, but just smiled when he was told “Hit don’t matter, Mike does.”

    Mud Creek gets its name because of how muddy it gets during the winter time. In the summer, it runs clear as ice and almost as cold. It is shadow enough that you could sit on the soft sandy bottom, lean back on your elbows and let the current wash you off. The easiest bath you could take but it wasn’t long before we were interrupted by intruders.

    Arnold hollered” Watch out for that snake!” I jumped up, turned around and saw the biggest Water Moccasin that ever lived. Suddenly, there was a roaring sound on top of Bull Mountain and Arnold said “Quick get under the bridge”. I didn’t know that snakes were afraid to swim under bridges but followed him so close that when he stopped, I ran into him, knocking him into the water with a big splash. I don’t know if it was the splash, or our clothes hanging on the side of the bridge, but a car stopped right on it. That’s right the only car to come by in two whole days was parked about three or four feet above my head.

    Sitting naked in the creek, trying to think how you were supposed to arm wrestle a deadly reptile, I asked Arnold “What do we do?” he said “Be quiet, they’re girls”. I wasn’t worried abut any girls but that snake had me very concerned. The loud splash had apparently frightened the snake onto the bank because all of a sudden from the bridge there came such a squealing that my Uncle Leon’s pigs would have been so proud. Between the screams and shrieks we heard the word snake. Things really went into high gear. The girls jumped back in their car and drove off like a bullet. I came up out of that creek so fast, I was completely dry. At least I got dressed right away. It was a good thing that snakes aren’t afraid to crawl over bridges and ran those girls away because I was about to become a streaker.

    Arnold just laughed and laughed on the way home but I was real upset. He told me not to worry about it; he didn’t think the girls knew we were there. I told him I never was worried about any girls, so he wanted to know why I had such a fierce look on my face. I told him because I knew Aunt Evie’s good eye would check me over real close but she would have to understand that sometimes a feller didn’t have time to wash behind his ears.

    I didn’t know it then, but Mud Creek has served the Sullivans well. When I was taking my bath, I was reenacting what my ancestors had been doing for almost 100 years. I doubt I was the only Sullivan to ever take a bath with a snake, but I doubt they ever had to worry about a car load of girls and I didn’t either.

    My g-g-g-grandfather, Russell Sullivant had 13 children, all of whom survived to marry and many raised large families. Most of Russell’s children built their homes along the Boyd Road in Northwest Tuscaloosa County. The Boyd road runs from U.S. Highway 82, through the community of Echola, continuing northward to Highway 171 at Moores Bridge. This road is on the west side of Sipsey Swamp.

    Russell’s son William Russell Sullivant SR, otherwise known as “Bill”, had married Harriet Minerva McGee and they had 15 children. Many of these children moved to the east side or Northport side of Sipsey Swamp. With so many Sullivans living on both sides of the swamp, it is amazing that the area wasn’t known as Sullivanville.

    William Harrison Sullivant, born in 1859 and died in 1945, was the seventh child of Bill and Harriet. He was known as Pa Harris and had married Caroline Elizabeth Montgomery on 30 September 1883. Their first house was located on a side road known today as the School House Road between Tabernacle Baptist Church and Bethabara Baptist Church Baptist less than fifteen miles from Northport. Later Harris and Sissy moved down the ridge and built another home on the north bank of Mud Creek.

Descendants of William Harrison Sullivant

1. Maggie Nola Sullivan born 29 May 1886, died 07 Jan 1956. Never Married

2. William Champion Sullivan born 01March 1888, died 29 December 1978. Married first to Jimmie Lee Tannehill Married second to Essie Watson

3. Julia A. Sullivan born 06 October 1889 died 15 May 1959. Married Lonnie Virgil Montgomery on 18 November 1907

4. Wilburn Dawson (Doss) Sullivan born 21 March 1893, died 08 August 1976. Married Evie Sexton on 02 April 1917

5. Addie Sullivan born March 1894. Married J. Ellis Bailey on 21 February 1914

6. Sam McGee Sullivan born 03 October 1895, died 15 September 1983. Married Thelma Skelton on 05 March 1928

7. Jonas Lester Sullivan born 14 April 1897, died 13 August 1971. Married Rona Belle Skelton

8. Velma Sullivan born May 1900 Married first Bascum Hayes. Married second Burl Hughes

9. Myrtle Sullivan born 1901. Married Sam Hall

10. Luther Washington Sullivan born 08 August 1899, died 02 April 1980. Never married

11. Mary Lee Sullivan born 22 September 1906, died 15 October 1962. Never married

I now live in Homewood, Alabama but my parents still live in Northport, so I am in the area often. I am working very hard on my family genealogy and invite anyone who can add or correct any of it to please contact me. I enjoy collecting stories and photographs for my genealogy.


Mike Sullivan
#44 Shadowlawn Drive
Homewood, Alabama 35209
(205) 871-1228