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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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SULLIVAN, WILLIAM MORRISCY, lumberman and farmer; b. Renous, 3 Apr 1877, s/o Daniel Sullivan and Catherine Kehoe; m. 1904, Mary Bernetta Layton, d/o Jacob Layton and Mary Elizabeth Murdoch, of Blackville; d. Red Bank, 7 Mar 1939.

After attending Van Buren College in Maine and St Joseph's at Memramcook, William M. Sullivan returned to the Miramichi to join his father in business. By 1896 his father, who had been a successful lumberman at Renous for many years, was the principal lumber operator on the Northwest and Little Southwest Miramichi. By 1900 he was in possession of the Red Bank millsite which had been occupied a number of years previously by William S. Brown and had grist and shingle mills in operation. He also had Peter A. Forsyth under contract that year to build him a store and a fine new residence, the interior of which was finished by Francis Bockler in time for the family to occupy it at Christmas.

In 1906 the Sullivans built a three-storey hotel, and in 1909 a new sawmill equipped with the best of machinery and electric lights. The mill employed more than 100 men, and the demand for lumber was such that a night shift was added in 1910. In the same year, Hugh Lamont built the steam tug Mary Sullivan for the firm. In 1913, a year before his father's death, William Sullivan, as head of the family business, purchased the former Flett sawmill at Nelson. This absorbed most of the men thrown out of work in 1915 when the Red Bank mill and tens of thousands of board feet of sawn lumber were destroyed in a sensational fire caused by exploding gases. The mill was not replaced, but the Sullivan store, which had also fallen victim to the flames, was rebuilt and enlarged in the fall of 1915 by Peter A. Forsyth. Sullivan later conducted one of the most modern sawmills in New Brunswick at the Flett site in Nelson.

Sullivan's business was incorporated in 1922 as the William M. Sullivan Co. Ltd. The company later experienced serious financial difficulties, and the vast timber limits and other assets under its control passed to United States investors, who then engaged Sullivan as their manager. James Colgate of New York City was reported to be the owner of the timber rights before these were sold to J. Leonard O'Brien in 1943.

During the period of his success Sullivan had an excellent farm at Red Bank and one of the largest Jersey dairy herds in northern New Brunswick. In the 1920s he joined with T. Herbert Whalen and others in founding the Miramichi Creamery in Newcastle, of which he was later the sole owner. In 1920 he was appointed postmaster at Red Bank. In 1922 he and his wife, Bernetta Layton, presented St Thomas Catholic Church with a new, one-ton bell. When he died in 1939, at age sixty-one, his survivors were his wife, two daughters, and four sons.


[b] church records [m] Advance 8 Sep 1904 [d] Leader 10 Mar 1939 / Advocate 11 Mar 1896, 2 May 1900. 12 Dec 1900, 2 Jan 1901, 21 Sep 1906, 30 Aug 1910, 7 Jul 1915; Arbuckle (re. church bell); Commercial World 12 Aug 1943; Hubbard; Leader 18 Nov 1960, 19 Jul 1963; MacManus; Whalen family data; World 22 Sep 1915