Stories from the Grave

Francis Sullivan: 1897-1918

Posted June 16, 2020

My name is Francis Sullivan and I am the son of Irish immigrants. Our family has never had much money, but Pa tried his best to give us all a comfortable life. He worked in the lumber yards and later traveled to Upper Michigan to work the lumber camps. It is at one of those lumber camps where he suffered a serious fall that ended his life. After Pa’s death, my older brother Thomas Jr started working for Green Bay Western Railroad, so we have some money. But we soon were moving from house to house.

I had been going to school at St. Patrick’s Catholic School but due to continued money troubles I left after the 7th grade. I worked odd jobs until I began working at the Diamond Match Company stacking lumber in the lumber yard. I still remember the day in 1917 when President Wilson declared war against Germany and the United States became part of the Great War. I did not want to sign up at first but then Battery B and E here in Green Bay did a parade on June 5th and most of the city turned out to watch the soldiers march through the city. I signed up with Battery B on July 3, 1917.

It was my first time leaving Wisconsin, not to mention leaving the county. Who would believe it, a poor man like me, heading overseas to England. I had been in the Army for 9 months, when I passed away on March 18, 1918 at Liverpool, England from an infection. On March 21, 1918, my poor Ma received a telegram telling of my death. It read.

“Mrs. Ellen Sullivan, 309 S. Maple Ave., Green Bay, Wis.
Deeply regret to inform you that it is officially reported that Private Francis Sullivan, Field Artillery, died of angina Ludovici, March 18.
“Adjutant General”

My body was shipped from England back to Green Bay. And I arrived about April 20th with my funeral at St. Patrick’s Church taking place on April 23rd. My grave is honored each year as being the first Brown County resident to die during the Great War. Even the local American Legion post chose my name for the name of their post.