A Note from Cottonwood Corners

On May 16, 1904, Mary Sully, at the age of 53, was once again a widow and left with eight fatherless children.  In the 1904 – 05 land drawing, conducted by the Land Office, Ed Sutter became the owner of the land in Section 27 of the Lucas Township on which the Sully family had earlier built their home.  Later, Sutter sold it to Morgan Hornbeck.

It was sometime after 1885 that the two-story frame home was constructed by the Sully family, along with a barn and suitable corrals.  By then, Jack had carefully identified the ravines, plum thickets, and trees which could be used as suitable escape routes if he was being pursued by the authorities.

Jack Sully and William Emery ran their herds of cattle and horses on the surrounding prairie which came to be known as “Sully Flats.”  The Sully Flats stretched north and east to the Missouri River and south to the breaks of the South Whetstone.

In 1907 – 08, Mary Sully and her children homesteaded northwest of Dallas in Tripp County.  While they were building a two-story, nine-room house, the family lived in a log cabin which belonged to a neighbor on an adjacent quarter.  The boys helped mix the cement for the foundation and assisted the carpenters in erecting the new home.

Mary lived and worked the homestead with the children until they were grown, married, and on their own.  Samuel (Sam) was born in 1893 and never married.  He worked on the homestead with his mother and other children who were still at home, until he passed away in 1932.  Mary, his mother passed away in 1937.

Mary was born on Christmas Day, December 25, 1851 in Dakota Territory.  She was 86 years old when she died.  Two years before she passed away, she used the prints, plaids, and plain cloth from her daughters’ dresses to sew a beautiful quilt called the “Trip Around the World.”  The tiny 1½ inch squares were delicately sewn and pieced together and quilted to a green background.  She did this all without the aid of glasses.

Mrs. Sully had also pieced and quilted an “Irish Chain” quilt which Eva and Mildred treasured.  It is possible that Eva had that quilt with her at the Nursing Home in Gregory where she resided until her death.

Louise Sully was born in 1882 and died in 1964.  She was married to Peter Waugh and they moved to Canada.  They had three children: John, May, and Renee.

It was reported in the local papers in August of 1901 that Jack Sully deliberately attempted to murder Peter Waugh at a dance thirty-five miles northwest of Bonesteel.

The shooting was the culmination of an old feud between the two men.  Before going to the dance, Sully declared he would kill Waugh.  He was so vehement in his threats that his wife hid his gun before they started to the dance.

Eva Sully was born in 1884 and died in 1986.  She worked as a salesclerk at the Ambrose Brothers General Store in Dixon.  She spent her last years at the Gregory Nursing Home.

Mildred Sully was born in 1886 and died in 1979.  She worked at the Pierre Indian School and was honored by the Department of Interior in 1950 for her efforts at the school.

John Joseph Sully Jr. was born in 1887 and died in 1967.  He attended the University of Minnesota (Music Department) and performed in music concerts at the University.

Frank Sully was born in 1889 and died in 1958.  He was one of the most prominent horse and cattle producers in the area.  South Dakota newspapers in August of 1921 reported:  “The race horses which Frank Sully took to New Mexico last fall, and which turned up recently at Omaha, in the hands of a stranger, have been recovered by the U.S. Government and turned over to the Sully family.  But the whereabouts of Frank Sully still remains a mystery.”

The story, with a Gregory, July 22 dateline indicated that:  “For many years he was one of the most prominent horse and cattle raisers of this section of the Rosebud country.  Soon after arriving in New Mexico with his horses, he dropped from sight and his relatives have been unable to locate him since that time.  The horses were also lost track of until they appeared at the racing circuit at Omaha.    Here they were found by one of the Sully boys.  The man in charge of the horses had a bill of sale for the horses, the terms of which provided that this party was to get Frank Sully out of Old Mexico where he was held captive by a band of Mexican bandits.  Every effort was being made to locate Frank.”

George Sully was born in 1891 and I have not been able to find information on the date of his death.  He farmed and raised registered hogs near Colome.  George is reported on the 1940 U. S. Census as living in Idaho Falls, Idaho.  At the time, he was 49 years old, married, with 2 sons and a daughter.

Claude was born in 1897 and died in 1971.  In February of 1919 while riding the range some miles from Winner, his horse slipped on the ice and fell, catching Claude beneath and breaking his leg.  In this helpless situation he laid on the prairie for hours before being discovered and brought to the hospital in Winner.  In July of 1925, he participated in a special rodeo at O’Neill, Nebraska, which was produced by one of the most noted rodeo men in the country.  Riders and participants came from all across America.  Claude was specifically listed as “the champion calf roper of the country.”  He had won at Cheyenne, White River, and other rodeos in the area.


Author Clarence Shoemaker, originally published in the Gregory Times-Advocate on February 8, 2023

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