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My Evil Family

Evil Comes to America

My ancestor Francis Sullivan immigrated to Baltimore
from County Meath, Ireland, in 1847, during the
Great Famine. He was twenty-one and illiterate. Like
many Irish immigrants, he found work on the B&O
Railroad. Francis liked to drink a lot. So did most of
the other railroad men. It was starting to become a
problem — fights, broken marriages, the usual — so
some women and priests started an abstinence
movement called Society of the Divine Thirst. It was
kind of like Prohibition in the 1930s, except drinking
wasn’t outlawed, just severely frowned upon.

Francis Sullivan and his drinking buddies were pressured
by the Society of the Divine Thirst to stay out
of the taverns and go to church instead. But the railroad
workers really liked to drink. So Francis got an
idea: Why slave away on the railroad when you could
rake in the bucks quicker by opening a tavern? The
problem was how to do it without pissing off all the
wives and priests. So Francis opened a club in Fells
Point. He called it the Circle of the Stout Heart and
claimed it was a men’s-only abstinence society. But it
was really a secret pub, and the men said Francis
served the best pint of stout in the city. They told
their wives they were going to an abstinence meeting
— sorry, honey, members only — and then drank like
pigs. Or fish. Whatever it is that drinks a lot.

The Stout Heart was a big success. Soon the Society of the
Divine Thirst gave up on abstinence as a lost cause.
Francis died a prosperous man. A tavern keeper.

That was the beginning of the Sullivan family fortune —
a fortune built on lies and vice. Evil, if you will.

Daniel Sullivan, unlike his father, Francis, went to
school. He was no dummy. When he grew up, indoor
plumbing was just developing. Daniel saw a way to
get even richer. The newfangled toilets were always
getting clogged up. So Daniel invented the toilet
plunger. At least, he patented it. His former best
friend, Patrick Heath, claimed that Daniel stole the
idea from him.

Whatever. Daniel got the patent, and Daniel got the
money and to hell with his friend Patrick.
Now the Sullivans were really rich. Then Daniel
married the daughter of a rich tobacco farmer and
got even richer.

That’s right. Tobacco.

It begins.

JANE OUT

Coming up: the Civil War. Wait till you read about
the evil stuff my family did then!
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