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OUTSTANDING *Jos. Sullivan Old West High Back Fort Benton MT., Saddle
(Extremely rare saddle)
Wonderful saddle from a great Pioneer maker., with ornate hand tooling,features special order Visalia quilted seat and latigos.
Marked by both Jos. Sullivan and Visalia (early markings)An exceptional scarce saddle, in overall excellent condition.
Joseph Sullivan made friends with the cattlemen of the open range, and Charles M. Russell was an especially close friend. Sullivan died in Fort Benton in April 1940 after 59 years in the business, operating his renowned shop a bit until just before his death. The old building he occupied the entire time was saved and moved to Great Falls by Charles Bovey as an important part of Frontier Town at the Fair Grounds. Jos. Sullivan’s Saddlery was later moved on to Nevada City where it stands today.
Joseph Sullivan was born in Ireland in December 1857 and came to the United States in 1860 as a child. Some sources claim that Sullivan was born at Port Chester, New York about 1860. Young Sullivan visited a brother in St. Paul in 1880 and kept going west to Montana Territory, arriving late that year. For a time he worked in a harness shop in Bozeman, before joining with V. K. Goss to operate a saddlery in Deer Lodge. Joe Sullivan married Rosa V. McQuillan, an early Fort Benton teacher, in 1885 in Dubuque, Iowa, and they had two daughters, Marie B. and Mary G.Shortly after coming to Fort Benton, Sullivan received an order for 500 lightweight saddles for the North West Mounted Police, so he hired five or six more workers to help meet that order. At that time he had about a dozen employees. Sullivan made saddles for the big T. C. Power concern. Sullivan once said that two cinch saddles were most popular when he first came to Montana, but the mode changed to the three-quarter rig, one cinch. In the words of Joel Overholser, “Sullivan saddles went as far north as Edmonton and south to the Colorado line, and every puncher on the northern ranges knew or knew of Joe Sullivan . . . Joe Sullivan was a crusty old timer; a friend recalled that cowboys would hock their outfits to him to prolong a spree, get a tongue lashing later and be sent back to work with saddle and gear—they usually paid up next time.”In a tribute to Sullivan in 1940, Overholser wrote, “The death of Joseph Sullivan, pioneer Fort Benton saddler and harness maker, marks the severing of another of Montana’s links to her colorful and picturesque past . . . The men who built the saddles which were cinched onto the hurricane decks of Montana broncs never received any part of the credit going to the cowpuncher who had made a good ride, but they deserved some of it, for when they built their saddles, they built them to last. Joe Sullivan was one of the last of these old-time saddlers.”Source ref://Fort Benton River Press 31 January 2007
NOTE: Stand not included.We sell antique/vintage saddles and cowboy gear for it's collectible or historical nature, as such we do not guaranteethose items for any other intended use.
Provenance: Private Collection
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