The Valley of Heart's Delight

Michael Sullivan
Came to California with the Murphy Party

Bio-Pen Pictures


One of the stanch, sturdy, honorable old settlers of California and this valley is the gentleman whose name heads this article. Born in Limerick, Ireland, in 1831, his father emigrated to Canada ten years later. They removed shortly afterward to Missouri, tilling a farm which the elder Mr. Sullivan had taken up, to which occupation young Michael was trained. When he was thirteen years of age (1844) he set out with the family of Martin Murphy, Sr., for California, continuing with his family until he reached the age of twenty-three, and settling with them in the Santa Clara Valley. In 1854 he purchased one hundred and ninety-seven acres of land on the north side of the Alum Rock road, about a mile and a half east of San Jose, and took up his residence. On November 13, 1855, he was married to Miss Margaret Welsh, daughter of Robert and Johanna (Welch) Welsh, who were natives of Kilkenny County, Ireland, where she was born. It will thus be seen that Mr. Sullivan was in this county while it was still under Mexican domination and though at the time but a youth of sixteen years he gallantly took up arms and helped to wrest this fair land from Mexican supremacy and place it under the stars and stripes. He was a member of the San Jose contingent that joined the little force commanded by Capt. Ward Marston, numbering in all about one hundred men. They met, and after a series of some pretty severe engagements with the Mexican forces under Colonel Sanchez, the latter surrendered unconditionally. It will thus be seen that he has led an active and adventurous life, meeting the hardships and discouragements incident to a pioneer's life, and reaping the reward of his arduous labors. At present Mr. Sullivan owns about one hundred and fifteen acres of his original tract, and upon it is raising hay and grain with considerable profit.

When first taken up this land was wild and uncultivated, and its state of high cultivation shows the care and attention bestowed upon it by Mr. Sullivan. He is a man of great force of character and natural ability; for, although in his early life deprived of nearly all the advantages of schooling, by his unaided efforts he has acquired a goodly share of the education one gets from an active life, and has achieved a success in life due to sound common sense, native wit, and good judgment. He is a Democrat in politics and a consistent member of the Catholic Church, being sincere in all his principles.

He is the father of the following-named children: Nellie, married to John Shehan, and now residing on a portion of the old homestead; Robert P., who married Miss Susie Barber, and lives in San Jose; Mary Kate, married James Shehan, and is living on the homestead; Edward J., at home with his parents, as are also Richard, John, and Vincent.

SOURCE:  Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H.S.
Foote.- Chicago:  The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888. page 242 Transcribed by Carol Lackey


SANTA CLARA COUNTY -The Valley of Heart's Delight