Sullivan, Illinois

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Southern side of courthouse square in Sullivan.jpg
Southern side of courthouse square in Sullivan
Motto: "More Than Just A Small Town"
Country United States
State Illinois
County Moultrie
Elevation 673 ft (205 m)
Coordinates 39°35′54″N 88°36′36″W / 39.59833°N 88.61000°W / 39.59833; -88.61000Coordinates: 39°35′54″N 88°36′36″W / 39.59833°N 88.61000°W / 39.59833; -88.61000
Area 2.68 sq mi (7 km2)
 - land 2.67 sq mi (7 km2)
 - water 0.00 sq mi (0 km2)
Population 4,326 (2000)
Density 2,121.5 / sq mi (819 / km2)
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Postal code 61951
Area code 217
Location of Sullivan within Illinois
Location of Sullivan within Illinois
Wikimedia Commons: Sullivan, Illinois

Sullivan is a city in Moultrie County, Illinois, United States. The population was 4,326 at the 2000 census, and 4,396 in 2009. It is the county seat of Moultrie County.[1] Sullivan is named after Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, where Fort Moultrie is located.[2]


Sullivan is located at 39°35′54″N 88°36′36″W / 39.59833°N 88.61000°W / 39.59833; -88.61000 (39.598270, -88.610038).[3]

According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 2.68 square miles (6.9 km2), all land.[4]


As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 4,326 people, 1,820 households, and 1,188 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,121.5 people per square mile (818.8/km²). There were 1,945 housing units at an average density of 953.8 per square mile (368.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 98.68% White, 0.30% African American, 0.12% Native American, 0.16% Asian, 0.09% from other races, and 0.65% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.39% of the population.

There were 1,820 households out of which 28.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.8% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.7% were non-families. 31.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.84.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.8% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 21.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 84.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,197, and the median income for a family was $41,894. Males had a median income of $31,754 versus $20,631 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,693. About 5.4% of families and 8.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.3% of those under age 18 and 8.9% of those age 65 or over.

History and Points of Interest[edit]

The Moultrie County Courthouse in Sullivan

The Little Theatre on the Square[edit]

Sullivan has a theatre known as one of the best places in central Illinois to see a professional live stage production. Actors such as Mickey Rooney, Vincent Price, Bob Crane, Jonathan Frid, Alan Alda, Margaret Truman, Dennis Weaver, Andy Devine, Michael Giberson, Ann Miller, Ben Affleck, Don Ameche, Betty Grable, Durward Kirby, John Carradine, Leonard Nimoy, Rosemary Prinz, Forrest Tucker, Don Ameche, George Chakaris, Stubby Kaye and Ann B. Davis have done shows there. The theatre is a non-profit; it received $20,000 from President Obama's 2009 Economic Stimulus package,[6] and in 2013 they received $23,200 from the Illinois Arts Council for general operating expenses.[7]

Contaminated Water System[edit]

In December, 2009, The New York Times compared raw test data on municipal water sources against health-based guidelines established by the E.P.A., the United States Geological Survey and in a small number of instances the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. Those guidelines identify the concentrations at which scientific research indicates humans are exposed to a risk of cancer or other diseases, and typically assume lifetime ingestion of about half a gallon of water per day by an adult of about 150 pounds. The Times applied the following criteria in analyzing data: a health risk was counted if a water system exceeded a health-based guideline 10 times or more for a single chemical in the past five years, and if, at that contamination level, at least one-in-10,000 people who consumed the water over a long period would likely develop cancer, according to government studies. Generally, regulators have deemed the one-in-10,000 metric as a threshold for unacceptable risk. The Sullivan water system's water was found to contain five contaminants (Alpha particle activity, Combined radium (-226 and -228), Lead, Radium-226, and Radium 228) that exceeded health-based guidelines.[8]

Heritage Center Museum[edit]

The Moultrie County Historical and Genealogical Society operates the Heritage Center Museum, which displays items of relevance to Moultrie County history, including the agricultural, educational, and religious history of the area.

Ward Museum[edit]

The Ward Museum at Mason Point, a nursing home just south of Sullivan, displays a collection of items collected from around the world by the Ward family, including one of the largest collections of seashells in the nation. The Ward's collection went on display in 1948, and the collection has remained intact since then. It was featured on an episode of the TV show "Illinois Adventure."[9] The museum was established by Abraham Lincoln "Link" Ward, a farmer, livestock dealer, and auctioneer, and his wife, Cora Anne (Hinterly) Ward. In addiitoin to seashells, the museum contains over 1,000 pieces of antique glassware, including 400 antique goblets. Frontier life items include wooden wheel clocks, circa 1830, copper-toed shoes, spinning wheels, and broad axes. The museum was established in 1948; Cora Ward died in 1967, and the executor of her estate burned the catalog compilation, so the origin of the over 5,000 items donated by the couple, who travelled widely, is unknown. [10]

Gateway to Lake Shelbyville[edit]

Sullivan is the northern gateway to Lake Shelbyville, and there are many campgrounds and recreational sites just outside of Sullivan.

City Budget, Public Debt, and Tax Increment Financing Districts[edit]

The City of Sullivan has three TIFs (Tax Increment Financing Districts)."[11] TIF funds are reserved for areas that are "blighted" or in danger of becoming blighted. In 2010, the City of Sullivan issued $8.3 million in bonds by pledging previously unencumbered real estate increment generated annually by the City's three TIF districts.[12] Recipients of TIF funds in 2013 were reported in the City of Sullivan's Resolution 13-E, which is available online.[13] An auditor from West & Company, L.L.C. stated before the Sullivan City Council on January 28, 2013 that revenue that the City of Sullivan receives from the State of Illinois that is designated as TIF sales tax will be used to pay off these (Build America) bonds. The audit evaluated the City of Sullivan's current financial condition as "stable to sound," meaning that it is able to meet its obligations on a daily basis, but that it does not have much room for error in financial decisions.[14] An auditor addressing the Sullivan City Council on January 7, 2014, noted that the City received its final quarterly TIF District 1 Sales Tax Payment from the State of Illinois, in June, 2013; this means that the $400,000 to $500,000 in TIF funds that the Sullivan was receiving annually for TIF Funds will no longer be available for TIF projects, and now must go directly into the city's general fund.[15]

Agri-Fab and OSHA Violations[edit]

Agri-Fab, a locally headquartered manufacturing facility which develops attachments, such as lawn sweepers, spreaders, mowers and snow throwers, was cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration with three repeat safety violations in March 2013 after receiving a complaint that a worker suffered an amputation injury in September 2012. Proposed penalties total $93,500. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years; similar citations were cited in January 2012 at the Sullivan facility. Tom Bielema, OSHA's area director in Peoria, Illinois, stated that "[e]mployers who are cited for repeat violations demonstrate a lack of commitment to employee safety and health."[16]

Howard Stern Show "Get My Grandpa Laid" Winner[edit]

Sullivan was the home of 86 year old Johnny Orris, winner of the Howard Stern Show's "Get My Grandpa Laid Contest." Orris' grandson, Ed Moody, entered him in the contest, which entitled his grandfather to a threesome with prostitutes working at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Mound, Nevada. According to an article in the December 16, 2013 edition of the New York Daily News, Mr. Orris was happy and excited about the prize, calling it "The greatest day of my life." Johnny Orris died before the threesome could take place. After taking two bites of a prime rib at the Sage Room at Harveys in Lake Tahoe, Orris, who had breathing problems, choked. He died and could not be revived, even though the Heimlich maneuver and CPR were performed. Commenting on the death on his XM/Sirius radio show, Howard Stern said “The very poor person, I only wish he would have gotten laid.”

Nixon Rally and Buffalo Burger[edit]

Vice President Richard Nixon held a campaign rally during his unsuccessful 1960 Presidential bid. He discarded a half-eaten buffalo burger that was the product of the slaughter of buffalo owned by the City of Sullivan and housed at their street maintenance facility. The discarded burger was retrieved by Sullivan resident Steve Jenne, who preserved it. Jenne exhibited the burger on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" in 1988 and was a guest on the Game Show Network's "I've Got A Secret" in 2006.[17]

The Church of Jesus Christ[edit]

The Church of Jesus Christ, known as the Harshmanites, was founded in Sullivan in the 1880s by the Reverend S.R. Harshman. It was a pacifist church with Methodist origins. During World War I the church members experienced hostility and in some case violence for their objection to fighting.

Sullivan Redskins[edit]

Sullivan's High School Football team has the controversial name "Redskins." According to an article in The Capital News Service,[18] 28 High School teams in the U.S. have dropped the name, and 63 (including Sullivan) have retained it; all college teams have ceased use of the name, and the NFL's Washington Redskins is under pressure to change its name.

Lynching on Town Square[edit]

Grant Atteberry was lynched by a mob at the Moultrie County Courthouse in the Sullivan town square in 1896 with the consent of the Sheriff. At the time, he was in jail, charged with the rape of his sister-in-law, Mrs. Ed Atteberry. Grant Atteberry was hanged from the limb of a tree on the northwest corner of the courthouse lawn. The tree no longer stands, as all trees on the courthouse lawn were cut down after the lynching occurred. In 1893, Grant Atteberry and his brother Ed were acquitted of the murder of their father, David James Atteberry. At the time of their trial, it was stated that Atteberry's two sons were upset about their father's stated intention to remarry.[19]

Gregory Cochran[edit]

Sullivan is the hometown of Gregory Cochran, co-author of the 2009 popular book The 10,000 Year Explosion. Cochran is an adjunct Professor at the University of Utah who resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His formal academic background is in optical physics, but he spends as much time as possible working on evolutionary biology, especially of humans. His work with Paul Ewald on pathogens and chronic disease is well known, and was featured in a long article in the February, 1999 issue of THE ATLANTIC magazine. Cochran, along with Henry Harpending, a distinguished professor at the University of Utah, authors the online blog WEST HUNTER and has founded a parallel non-profit organization focused on education and research.[20]

Bandleader Tiny Hill[edit]

Big Band era entertainer Tiny Hill (birth name "Harry Lawrence Hill") and his first wife, Alta Frederick, were from Sullivan. Tiny Hill performed in ballrooms across the country and on radio. He was well known for his recordings of "Angry," "Sioux City Sue," "Heartaches," "I'll Sail My Ship Alone," "Who's Sorry Now," "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue" and hundreds of others. The 365-pound Hill used sandpaper blocks to generate a double-shuffle beat that was great for dancing. He also employed a gourd device called a guiro with grooves cut into the sides that was struck with a stick or coat hanger to produce a scratching sound.[21] Tiny Hill was the first artist signed to Mercury Records, and he worked for Mercury as a Folk Music Director and Country A & R (Artists and Repertoire) Director from 1945-1948.


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  4. ^ "2010 Census U.S. Gazetteer Files for Places – Illinois". United States Census. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  5. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ Warren, James (2011). "A Program's Legacy in Jobs and Lives". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  7. ^ . Illinois Arts Council Retrieved 2014-03-07.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ SDughig, Charles (16 December 2009). That tap water is legal but may be unhealthy. The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-03-07. 
  9. ^ Illinois Adventure TV. Retrieved 5 September 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  11. ^ Cit of Sullivan, Illinois TIF District Map. 2013-05-10. 
  12. ^ Morris and Sullivan Share TIF Experiences. TIF Illinois. 2012. 
  13. ^ City of Sullivan Resolution 13-E TIF Tax Allocation Fund. City of Sullivan, Illinois. 2012-04-22. 
  14. ^ Regular meeting of the City Council of the City of Sullivan, Illinois. City of Sullivan, Illinois. 2013-01-28. 
  15. ^ Regular meeting of the City Council of the City of Sullivan, Illinois, Monday, January 27, 2014. City of Sullivan, Illinois. 2014-01-27. 
  16. ^ US Labor Department's OSHA cites Agri-Fab for 3 repeat safety violations at Sullivan, Ill., manufacturing plant after worker suffers amputation injury. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor. 2013. Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  17. ^ Nixon's 1960 sandwich kicked around again. NBC NEWSS. 2006-05-04. 
  18. ^ Soong, Kelyn (7 April 3023). The Other Redskins. The Capital News Service. Retrieved 2014-02-23.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  19. ^ NOT GUILTY. Mowequa Call. 1893. Retrieved 2014-08-15. 
  20. ^ The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution. 2010. Retrieved 2014-08-22. 
  21. ^ Harry Lawrence "Tiny" Hill. 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-11. 

External links[edit]