The First Ward: The Novel


Of all the hardships that Civil War Hero John Sullivan’s descendants had to contend with, none was more invasive or threatening than the infamous Fingy Conners. Conners enslaved thousands of Buffalo’s First Ward families into indentured servitude. Over two decades, as their children died from sickness and deprivation, the diabolical Fingy covered himself in diamonds and bought his own family magnificent estates on Buffalo’s Delaware Avenue, in The Hamptons and in Palm Beach, Florida.

The saga of the Sullivans stretched from an encounter with Abraham Lincoln to the horrific Civil War battlefields of the 49th NYS Volunteers to the 1866 Fenian Invasion of Canada; friendship with Mark Twain, a quarter century’s service at Buffalo City Hall and ultimately to the infamous Scooper’s Strike and the Storming of the Whaleback Mather in 1899.

The Sullivan Family:

Friends & Enemies 1850-1899

John Sullivan emigrated to the US from County Clare, Ireland. Leaving his wife and babies behind to fight in the Civil War, he was shot in the forearm at Bull Run. It was a non-life-threatening injury but he sickened and died at Harewood Hospital, pictured above, three weeks later of typhoid fever.

John Sullivan’s oldest son Jim Sullivan met President Abraham Lincoln at the Reception at Buffalo’s St. James Hall in 1861, then attended his funeral in 1865 in the same building.

John Sullivan’s widow remarries out of desperation after she is denied her widow’s and surviving children’s pension, and the her nefarious ex-convict husband Peter Halloran gets caught up in the Fenian Invasion of Canada in 1866.

A chance encounter with Buffalo Express editor Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, leads to a friendship that will reverberate with the teenage Jim Sullivan for a lifetime.

John Sullivan’s youngest son, John P. Sullivan, is installed amidst widespread election fraud as alderman of Buffalo’s First Ward by his childhood friend, the voracious William J. “Fingy” Conners. John P. Sullivan holds on to power for the next 35 years.

John Sullivan’s eldest, James E. Sullivan, founds the Mutual Rowing Club in 1881, joins the Buffalo Police Department in 1883, and spends the rest of his life cleaning up his alderman-brother’s messes, along with those of saloon-boss Fingy Conners and the odious Sheehan Brothers, William F. and John C.

John P. Sullivan and brother Jim Sullivan’s childhood friend Fingy Conners rises to power following the unrelated deaths of 4 members of his family within a year’s passing, amasses fantastic wealth by corralling thousands of First Ward laboring families, and subsequently commands the Buffalo Police Department and the Democratic Party of New York State.

The Mutual Rowing Club website and all materials not otherwise attributed copyright ©2011 The Sullivan Family Trust.