Biography of Col. Jeremiah J. Sullivan
Cuyahoga County, OH Biographies

COL. JEREMIAH J. SULLIVAN was a member of a group of financiers who aided in establishing Cleveland as one of America's great banking centers. The Central National Bank Savings & Trust Company, representing two institutions which he founded, stands as a living monument to his perseverance, clearsightedness and business leadership. The late Colonel Sullivan was not only an able executive and skillful organizer, but had the personality that gained him strong and lasting friendships, and made his associates trust him implicitly. Before coming to Cleveland he had been proprietor of a country store, but subsequent years brought him into a position of prominence among the nation's bankers.

Colonel Sullivan's parents, Jeremiah J. and Mary (Moylan) Sullivan, came from Ireland in 1843, settling on a farm near Canal Fulton, Stark County, Ohio, where, on November 16, 1844, their son was born.

Colonel Sullivan attended village schools in Canal Fulton, and the first experience to take him out of his rural environment came during the Civil war, when he enlisted as a private in the Third Ohio Field Artillery. He was then in his seventeenth year, and was one of. the youngest volunteer soldiers of Ohio. He served three years, and participated in the decisive campaigns of Vicksburg, Atlanta and Nashville, being with General Grant at Vicksburg and General Sherman at Atlanta. He was mustered out as a sergeant in Cleveland, July 31, 1865.

When he was twenty one years of age this young veteran became partner in a general store at Nashville, in Holmes County, Ohio. Two years later he became sole proprietor, and continued the business alone until March, 1878, when he sold out and moved to Millersburg, in the same county. There he carried on a general hardware business until President Cleveland, in 1887, appointed him national bank examiner for Ohio. Through experience in that office he gained a thorough and technical knowledge of banking. He took up his residence in Cleveland in 1889, and early the following year (1890) started to organize the Central National Bank of Cleveland. Organization of the bank was completed in May, 1890, and he served the bank successfully for ten years as cashier and vice president, and in April, 1900, became its president.

In 1905 Colonel Sullivan also organized the Superior Savings and Trust Company, and for a number of years was president of this as well as the Central National Bank. On January 1. 1921, the two banks were merged under the new title, Central National Bank Savings and Trust Company. His son, C. E. Sullivan, who for several years had been president of the Superior Savings & Trust Company, became president of the consolidated bank, while Colonel Aullivan accepted the office of chairman of the board of directors.

Colonel Sullivan's opinions on money and finance were widely quoted, and, being of a cheerful and optimistic disposition, his advice was sought continually.

Cleveland is indebted to Colonel Sullivan for many distinctive services. He was one of the few prominent American bankers who regarded with favor the financial legislation of 1913, known as the Federal Reserve Act, and his enthusiasm and perseverance contributed largely in bringing the Fourth Federal Reserve Bank to Cleveland.

He served as president of the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce in 1905, was president of the National Board of Trade in 1905-06, and in 1899 was chosen the first president of the Cleveland Association of Credit Men. It was his idea around which other bankers of Cleveland rallied in organizing the Bankers Club of Cleveland, of which he was the first president. He also served as president of the Ohio Bankers Association. For a number of years he was treasurer of the Merchants Marine League, and was interested in Great Lakes steamship companies. He was also treasurer of the Mutual Building and Investment Company, and for a number of years he was president of the First National Bank of Canton, Ohio.

Colonel Sullivan was prominent in Ohio democratic politics before coming to Cleveland. In 1879 he was elected a member of the State Senate, representing Wayne, Holmes, Knox and Morrow counties, and in 1885 he was given a unanimous nomination and was again elected to the State Senate. Among the acts of legislation he initiated was one insuiting in the founding of the Soldiers' Home at Sandusky, Ohio, an institution for Civil war veterans. He was still a member of the Senate when he was appointed national bank examiner by President Cleveland. In 1893 he was elected colonel of the Fifth Ohio Regiment, Ohio National Guard. Colonel Sullivan was a member of the Union, Mayfleld, Country, Colonial and Roadside clubs of Cleveland, and was a member of the Ohio Society of New York.

Colonel Sullivan married Miss Selina J. Brown at Shreve, Wayne County, Ohio, September 25, 1873. Mrs. Sullivan survives him. Their only son, C. E. Sullivan, president of the Central National Bank Savings & Trust Company, resides at Gates Mill, a suburb of Cleveland. Their two daughters, Miss Selma Sullivan and Mrs. H. F. Seymour, also live in Cleveland.

Colonel Sullivan died of his only illness, influenza, at his home at 7218 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, February 2, 1922. He was buried in Lakeview Cemetery.

A History of Cuyahoga County
and the City of Cleveland
By: William R. Coates
The American Historical Society
Chicago and New York, 1924

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