Frank and Mabel Sullivan

Frank and Mabel Sullivan


How a disaster brought them together....

Stories about Frank and Mabel Sullivan

Eastland Disaster On The Chicago River!

  • Chicago, Cook, Illinois

In the early morning hours of Saturday July 24, 1915 A passenger steamer ship started to leave the dock on the Chicago River.... The boat listed, righted itself... listed and rolled over in the water... There were 2,572 people from the Western Electric Company  and their families and friends on board for a company outing to Michigan City, Indiana for a company picnic!  844 People died that day....mostly women and children.  This was Chicago's biggest disaster in terms of lives lost.     This disaster has been compared to the Titanic.... and considered a worse disaster  because of the fact that the Titanic was in an iceberg filled ocean.... hundreds of miles from land....................... the Eastland was by the dock at Clark Street in Chicago on a warm summer day....... The Titanic took about 3 hours to sink... The Eastland sank in less than 5 minutes..... The Titanic was at least 450 miles to safety..... The Eastland was only 20 feet from the wharf.  The Titanic had 1,320 passengers aboard.... The Eastland had 2,501 passengers aboard.  There were 908 crew aboard the Titanic....only 70 aboard the Eastland.  There was a total of 2,228 people aboard the Titanic...... there were 2,571 people aboard the Eastland.   It was about 2 -1/2 miles to the bottom of the ocean......and only about 20 feet to the bottom of the Chicago River.  The Titanic lost 1,523 passengers and crew... The Eastland lost 844 passengers and crew.     Frank Sullivan was one of the divers at the scene of the disaster.  Frank helped bring up hundreds of, women and children.... It was the most horrible part of his life as a diver.     Mabel Kennedy was working at the Boston Store when she hear what happened.  She and some of the other Boston Store employees grabbed everything they could and raced to the river.  They had blankets and food.... they made repeated trips back and fourth frantically trying to do what they could to help the survivors and the rescuers.      Mabel and Frank met during this tragedy.... They both saw things that no one should have to see.....       Days later Frank and Mabel met again at a funneral for a small child that Frank had brought out of the water moments before he had met Mabel.  In the days and weeks that followed, Frank would go to the Boston Store and visit Mabel.  They comforted each other about what they had gone threw together at the disaster...       Frank and Mabel were best friends.  Frank courted Mabel and they became engaged.  They married June 12, 1918.       Frank had what is called "wanderlust"... he loved adventure...he loved to drink and he loved to fight.....  Mabel came from a more refined up bringing..... her father was an engineer, bridge builder and an inventor.  His name was William H. H. Kennedy.  He married Charlotte Andrews and they had 11 daughters and 2 sons.  When William Kennedy traveled around the country designing and building bridges, he would take his entire family along.      Frank was a whistler.... he was always happy and always whistling..... But there was a certain tune that he would whistle when he was feeling "wanderlust".... and when his mother or wife heard Frank whistling that tune......they knew he would soon be off on an adventure.       Frank's father Peter Leo Sullivan was also an engineer.... He married Ellen (Nell) Kay.  They had at least 15 children (at least 4 sets of twins).  Peter designed and built a huge house boat for his family to be close to him when he worked downtown Chicago... by the docks.  Frank grew up around water and had a great love for the water and ships and the docks....   Frank became a professional deep sea diver and welder and worked on ships all over the world.      Frank and Mabel had a daughter Charlotte and a son Charles.  They both adored their father.  Frank and Mabel everynight (when Frank was home) would walk hand in hand walking down the street for a "stroll" singing together, their children would listen until they couldn't hear them anymore.  Mabel was a trained opera singer and Frank loved to have her sing for him.  Frank was not a trained singer... he just loved to sing and had a wonderful voice.       Frank's mother didn't particularly care much for Mabel.... and Mabel's father liked Frank but didn't approve of his lifestyle... not for his daughter.....and grandchildren.  Mabel did not like it when Frank would go on one of his adventures for days, weeks and months at a time.... it was hard on her and she felt like she was raising her children alone...  But Mabel couldn't stay away from Frank and he couldn't stay away from her.  Mabel's father insisted that they either stay together or stay apart.       Frank could not stay away from Mabel....he loved her too dearly.... so he took a diving job in New York.  No one ever saw or heard from him again..... but there was a rumor that Frank was stabbed to death for his pay in New York.  Another rumor was that Frank was murdered over some kind of dock strike in New York.  Recently, a genealogy buff e-mailed Frank and Mabel's grandaughter Colleen with information that Frank died on the waters by New York in a sinking ship....  It is a family mystery... no one knows where Frank is burried..... and we would love to bring him home to be burried with his beloved Mabel.....

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