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Henry R. "Judge" Sullivan


Mr. Henry R. Sullivan, his wife Elizabeth ("Beth") Merritt Sullivan, and their daughter Ellen E. Sullivan were our neighbors when we lived on Natchez Avenue, Knoxville, Tennessee, from 1953 to 1959.

Here is a photo of Mr. Sullivan playing his fiddle, 1 January 1974.


Henry R. Sullivan was born 4 June 1893, Townsend, Tennessee, and died December 1975, Maryville, Tennessee.  He married Elizabeth “Beth” Merritt circa 1924; she was born circa 1888.  They had one daughter, Ellen E. (Elizabeth ?) Sullivan, born January 1929

In 1953, Joseph A. Schlatter, Sr. and his wife, Annie Lee Richardson Schlatter, and their two sons, Joseph, Jr., and John, moved from an apartment at 717 17th Street, Knoxville, TN, into a house at 1909 Natchez Avenue, Knoxville, TN, where they lived until 1959.  Henry and Beth Sullivan and their daughter Ellen lived next door at 1907 Natchez Avenue.

Federal census records. 

  • According to 1910 federal census records for Maryville, TN, Henry Sullivan, age 27, was living with his parents near Maryville and was a public school teacher. 

  • The 1930 federal census for Knoxville, TN, shows Henry and Beth Sullivan as married with a daughter, Ellen, who was 1 year, 3 months old at the time.  He is listed as the manager of a grocery store.  Beth Merritt Sullivan is shown in the census as having been born in Michigan; her father is from Massachusetts and her mother in New York.

 The following information is a compilation of information related by Annie Lee Richardson Schlatter and the recollections of her son, Joseph A. Schlatter, Jr. 

Henry Sullivan’s nickname was “Judge;” a name given to him by Joseph A. Schlatter, Sr.  He owned a small insurance agency in downtown Knoxville.  He learned to play the fiddle from his father and he played often, usually sitting on his front porch in the evening.  He chewed Red Man chewing tobacco.  “Judge” Sullivan was proud to be a “hillbilly” and he frequently entertained the Schlatter's with stories of his childhood in the mountains of East Tennessee. 

Mrs. Sullivan, Beth Merritt Sullivan, graduated from a “finishing school” for young ladies.  She owned a lot of books, all of them classic English and American literature.  She had a copy of Winnie The Pooh in which she colored the black-and-white line drawings with water colors.  Her father was a cabinetmaker.  At some point she gave her Winnie The Pooh books (Winnie The Pooh, Now We Are Six, The House At Pooh Corner) to the Schlatter’s for Joe, Jr., and John to read.

 Their daughter Ellen either graduated from or attended the University of Tennessee.  When her mother died (date unknown), Ellen left Knoxville for Washington, DC, where she reportedly went to work for the Department of the Navy.  She never returned to Knoxville.   

Joseph and Annie Lee Schlatter remained in close contact with Mr. Sullivan after Mrs. Sullivan's death.  They helped Mr. Sullivan as he aged – running errands for him; helping him move; bringing him to their home frequently for meals and visits.  It was on one of these visits that the above photograph was made -- in the living room of the Schlatter home at 3119 Vera Drive, Knoxville, TN.   

When Mr. Sullivan died, several of his nieces and nephews settled his estate.  Among his belongings was a three-shelf bookcase made of walnut – 48 inches wide, 63 inches high, two drawers at bottom, two at top, three adjustable shelves.  There are notches on the front edges of the bookcase where hinges originally were installed for doors – the doors and hinges were removed at some time.  The bookcase was made by Mrs. Sullivan’s father.  In the bookcase were a dozen or so books that belonged to Mrs. Sullivan.  None of the family wanted the books or bookcase and these were given to Annie Lee Richardson Schlatter.  Upon her death in 2007, the bookcase was inherited by her son, Joseph A. Schlatter, Jr., and the books by her son, John F. Schlatter.

The Sullivan Bookcase

Made of walnut; 48 inches wide, 63 inches high; marks left by hand planes on the boards.  Note the notches in the front edge on the left side of the bookcase -- similar notches are in the same place on the right side -- these notches held hinges for the bookcase doors that were removed at an unknown time.  The bun feet at the corners were added by Joe Schlatter, Jr., in 2007.




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