Biography of Peter O’Sullivan

We are pleased to accord to the esteemed gentleman of ability whose name heads this paragraph a representation in this volume of our county’s history since he has been very prominent in the affairs of Wallowa county from its incipiency, and its councils have profited much from his keen foresight and excellent wisdom, while as a private citizen he has manifested capabilities that are praiseworthy and commensurate therewith are his unsullied moral qualities and upright principles which have ever been a polar star in guiding him in all his arduous and responsible service in the state as well as in other states heretofore.

It is frequently that we are called to the famous little isle of Goldsmith and Emmet when we trace the birth of some of our most loyal and prominent citizens, and such is the case in this pleasant task now before us. Peter O’Sullivan was born in Ireland in 1845, and while yet an infant in swaddling clothes his parents brought him to Vermont, whence they removed to Attica, Indiana, and later to Missouri. In this latter state our subject received his education and remained with his parents until they passed away. At the early age of fourteen he engaged in farm work for himself and when the war broke out he joined Company K, Thirty-fourth Missouri Infantry. The company was composed of young associated of our subject, all being but boys. Later, on account of the incompleteness of the company, the authorities disbanded it and sent the parties home, who had learned somewhat of the realities of war and were content to await in the quieter duties of industrial life until another call came. Our subject went to clerking in a grocery store in Knobnoster, Missouri, and there he remained for some years, being later a member of the town council for four years and then mayor for three years. In September, 1880, he came to Alder slope and took a homestead two miles south from Enterprise. Here he gave his attention to farming and stock raising and added to his estate until it now numbers four hundred acres. Mr. O’Sullivan was appointed the first county judge by the governor, Pennoyer, of the state and his efforts were greatly to be prized in the manner in which he conducted the affairs of the office, thus establishing a sound precedent for time to come. In addition to this he was road supervisor when his district embraced three hundred miles of road, and here also his wisdom and excellent practical judgment were of inestimable benefit to the county. During all of the trying times of organizing the county the wisdom and vigor and judgment of Mr. O’Sullivan were frequently brought into requisition and were freely used for the benefit of the general public. It is of note that Mr. O’Sullivan says that when the time for deliberation on the subjects to be settled in connection with the organization and fixing the boundaries of the county he took his place in the hull of the old sail boat with as much feeling of responsibility and dignity as was felt when the forefathers of our country arranged in equally trying and primitive places the wonderful questions that gave our country birth and us a home of freedom. Verily, the spirit goes with the country, and the Pacific slope is as well favored with pioneers and patriots, as was the Atlantic in years gone by.

In 1868 Mr. O’Sullivan married Miss Mary O’Brien, a native of Ireland, and they have the following children: John: Peter: James, deceased: an infant, deceased: Katie and Mamie. Mrs. O’Sullivan’s parents came to Missouri in an early day, but as old age drew on they longed for the homeland and so returned thither to repose during the long sleep in the place of their birth. Mr. O’Sullivan has always taken an active part in the affairs of political life and he sustains the old Jeffersonian Democracy with a vigor and power that are not easy to overcome, and he is one of the strong men of the county, and in addition to this prominence he holds a place in the hearts of his fellows, while he is also the recipient of their confidence and unbounded esteem.



An Illustrated history of Union and Wallowa Counties: with a brief outline of the early history of the state of Oregon. Western Historical Pub. Co., 1902.

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