Return to Main Page
Joseph Sullivant, the youngest and only surviving son of Lucas Sullivant and Sarah Starling, was born in Franklinton, in 1809. In his early years he was distinguished by an ardent love of books, and, like most boys having this passion, devoured everything which came in his way. Having a retentive memory, he mastered the ordinary school tasks of his time with little difficulty, and, after attending the first two classical schools which his father was active in establishing in Columbus he was sent to the boys' boarding school in Worthington, under the management of Rev. Philander Chase, bishop of Ohio. From this school he carried away, and retained in later life, added, it is believed, to steady progress in book-lore, a keen appreciation of the motherly kindness of "that most estimable woman," the wife of the bishop. From Worthington he was transferred to the Ohio university, and from thence, about a year after his father's death, in 1823, and at the early age of fifteen, he entered Center college, Danville, Kentucky, where his course of study was completed. Having, as he says of himself, at an early age embed a tast[e] for, and an interest in, the natural sciences, from his father, who was a "dear lover of nature," he devoted himself to their study, and before the age of twenty-one, was appointed, by the legislature, one of the corporators of the Philosophical and historical society of Ohio, and was corresponding secretary and curator thereof for several years.
The limits of our article do not permit the indulgence of our wish in the free use of the abundant material for an extended biographical sketch of Mr. Sullivant; suffice it to say, that he has been for the last forty years one of the leading spirits in all of the scientific and literary enterprises which have given the city of Columbus its present enviable standing among the centers of intelligence and culture in the West.
For many years he devoted much time and attention to the public schools of the city, being first a member, and for several years president of the board of education. Since his final retirement from that position, as a token of the esteem and regard of the large body of teachers connected with the schools, a bust of Mr. Sullivant has been placed in the hall of the beautiful high school building, and later, his old colleagues have erected the largest and finest ward school-building in the city, and, in recognition of his long, gratuitous, and efficient services, have named it "Sullivant school," an acknowledgement, and, at the same time, a monument, of which any one might justly feel proud.
Many years ago elected a member of the American Scientific association; a member and treasurer of the Ohio State Board of Agriculture; a trustee of Starling Medical college; and serving a second term as trustee and secretary of the Agricultural and Mechanical college of Ohio; a member of the executive committee, giving valuable service in the late re-organization of that institution under its present charter as the Ohio State university, he has held various positions of honor and trust, some involving much time and labor, but none of emolument, and literary enterprises--a pamphlet prepared by him on "A Water Supply for the city of Columbus," being greatly influential in arousing attention to this important matter. He was also the projector of Green Lawn cemetery, selected its site, was a member of the first board of trustees, and, for several years, president of the corporation.
With all these evidences of the high estimation of the community in which his life has been spent, no honor is so dear to him (according to his own affectionate confession) as the remembrance of the community of tastes and pursuits which rendered especially close the chain linking him with his distinguished brother, whose fame will increase in proportion as knowledge and culture are increased.
Mr. Sullivant has been thrice married, and has a family of several children.