Barney Sullivan

Frank Bernard Sullivan

...one of the professional divers on the tragic scene...

Frank Bernard "Barney" Sullivan was born in 1886 to Ellen and Peter Leo Sullivan. Barney was one of at least 15 children (his parents had at least three sets of twins).

Frank served as one of the brave professional divers that were on the scene of the Eastland Disaster.

Amongst the traumatic event, Barney met a young lady who was on the scene with her co-workers bringing food, clothing, blankets and more to the Disaster site named Mabel Kennedy. In the days and weeks that followed, the two confided in each other about the horrors they witnessed during the tragedy. The two eventually began dating, and later married on June 12, 1918. During their courtship and marriage they would stroll together -- he'd be whistling and she'd be singing.

They had two children, Charlotte and Charles. Barney was said to have a wanderlust spirit, and oftentimes would take off where no one knew where he was until he showed up again days, weeks or months later. Barney liked to drink and fight, and Mabel would fret and worry.

Mabel and Barney separated time after time, but always found themselves back together because of their deep love for one another. Mabel's father demanded that she and Barney separate permanently if they separated again -- and they did. Barney didn't want to be too far from Mabel, so he took a job in New York. But Mabel never saw him again; she was later told that a man stabbed him to death for his pay check.

Barney was remembered as a generous man who would give the shirt off his back. Mabel never remarried, and when was asked why, she always said, "No one could hold a candle to my Frank." Mabel died in 1970 at the age of 80.        

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