Dan Sullivan strongest man from the 1800s?

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psychologist
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Dan Sullivan strongest man from the 1800s?

Post by psychologist » Tue Jul 28, 2020 12:40 pm

I have been going through a few old British newspapers from the late 1800s.

There is mention that a strongman Dan Sullivan lifted an elephant with his teeth?

Dan Sullivan was billed as the "world's strongest man", the only man who could lift a living elephant by his teeth. How is such a thing possible?

Does anyone have any research on Dan Sullivan?

Another newspaper clipping says that Dan Sullivan the strong man astounded an audience with his feats such as lifting a man seated in a chair by his teeth, swinging two half-hundred weights round by his teeth, and lifting with his arms a cask of mortar, suspended by a chain.

His main feat was lifting from the ground a horse and trap in which were seated four men. The load was placed in a kind of swing rest, at the top of which Sullivan places a strap attached to the sides of the rest across his back and, with another band in his mouth by an almost superman effort he perceptibly lifts the whole party some inches from the stage.

Unfortunately I can't seem to upload images of these newspaper clippings. But I want to find more about Dan Sullivan.

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Harry Hayfield
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Re: Dan Sullivan strongest man from the 1800s?

Post by Harry Hayfield » Tue Jul 28, 2020 1:50 pm

psychologist wrote:
Tue Jul 28, 2020 12:40 pm
I have been going through a few old British newspapers from the late 1800s. There is mention that a strongman Dan Sullivan lifted an elephant with his teeth? Dan Sullivan was billed as the "world's strongest man", the only man who could lift a living elephant by his teeth. How is such a thing possible? Does anyone have any research on Dan Sullivan? Another newspaper clipping says that Dan Sullivan the strong man astounded an audience with his feats such as lifting a man seated in a chair by his teeth, swinging two half-hundred weights round by his teeth, and lifting with his arms a cask of mortar, suspended by a chain. His main feat was lifting from the ground a horse and trap in which were seated four men. The load was placed in a kind of swing rest, at the top of which Sullivan places a strap attached to the sides of the rest across his back and, with another band in his mouth by an almost superman effort he perceptibly lifts the whole party some inches from the stage. Unfortunately I can't seem to upload images of these newspaper clippings. But I want to find more about Dan Sullivan.
As part of my research into my family history, I bought a year's worth of subscriptions to the British Newspaper Archive which has every UK newspaper from the early 1700's to the present day (including a large number of articles about famous strongmen). Searching for "Dan Sullivan" produces a total of 75,918 articles. Adding the word "strongman" takes that tally up to 84,699 with most of the articles from 1850 - 1899, therefore narrowing the search to that timeframe we get 61,209 results. When sorting the results by relevance the first article that appears comes from the Portsmouth Evening News (October 14th 1892) and reports
On Thursday considerable commotion was created in the neighbourhood of Lake-road, Landport, by au extraordinary escapade of the elephant Piccaninny," belonging to Mr. Dan Sullivan, the "strongman" now performing at the People's Hall of Varieties in that thoroughfare. The animal, which was stabled in store behind some premises in Clarendon-street, belonging to Mr. P. Pearce, the proprietor the hall, escaped from the building by treaking open tbe door and having found its way into adjoining alley, abutting Timp3on-street, entered tne house of man named Charles Tubbs. where it remained unobserved for a considerable time. Both Mr. and Mrs. Tubbs happened to be away from heme when the animal gained admission forcing open the front door. Finding no one to interfere with its diversions, proceeded to demolish the contents of the two rooms on the ground floor. Meanwhile its escape from the stable was discovered by the keeper, who, on going to the place for the purpose of feeding his "little pet," was dismayed to find the store unoccupied. A thorough search of the premises waa followed by inspection of the open ground adjoining, but no trace of the missing animal could be discovered, and the owner ultimately offered a reward of to anyone who could give him information to its whereabouts. Presently Mr. Tubbs returned me, and noticed that some turf front of his cottage had been torn up. This he attributed to mischievous boys, but on reaching the door he observed that the window blind downstairs had disappeared, and at the same moment heard a peculiar noise, apparently proceeding from the back of the premises. Peering through a back window, he was astonished to find the apartment tenanted by Picaninny, of whose escape hs had heard. The animal was playfully throwing some pictures about the room with its trunk. The keeper was soon brought upon the scene, and with some trouble the elephant was coaxed through the narrow passage, and led out of the house to safe quarters. Mr. Tubbs has satisfactorily compensated from the damage.
The next most relevant report is from the Sporting Life of February 9th 1892 which reports
Many stirring sccnos have taken place the Royal Aquarium, but none ever evoked much enthusiasm d.d that of last night when three strong men bowed to a West End assemblage, Th* trio were Louis (the world’s champion), Dan Sullivan (tho man with the iron jaw), who can lift more neigh! with his teeth than any other human being. Then there was Milo, whose graceful carriage and youthful appearance woo for him much applause. Shortly after nine the men were introduced by Pnvateor,** and then they set to work to show off their boat points. Dan Sull.van took a weight in his teeth, sunng it round until the spectators heads sniiu ; thou added second weight, making up 112th. These also swung mound while holding them in his teeth. Alter that held l-dst man with his teeth while doing the hand balance at the same (iuiu. Next essayed the lift, a paraffin barrel weighing nilOlb. using one linger only, and then he broke the lifting chain by the expansion of his biceps. His lifting of an elephant weighing S'tHh. using his teeth ns lever.’ brought down the bouse. Milo did all sorts juggling with heavy weights, and llnalo carried over half ton. which included Professor Attila, who assisted his pupil while tho stage. Louis Cyr’s turn came Inst, and confined himself the celebrated back lifi, any olovation of big domb-bel’a being out of the question. The effects of Cyr’s recent accident have not passed away yet, and Hie doctor forbids the Canadian to through his regular weight-lifting, performance, because it might bring a relapso. In day two at tho most the embargo will taken off, and Cyr will go on with his record breaking. Fourteen heavy weights were packed on platform list nivht. They were;—ll. P. Hobson. 16st; A. Palher, list; E. Smith. 13st 121 b; IS. Craitur. i7st: T. Thompson, Iffst 21b; H. M’Fsrland, ; 1). Stuart, 8lb; Frank Ilinde, W. Dove, 81h-. D. Craig. 12st 2lh; S. White, 12st 71b; J. Martin. 21b; P. J. Mack, 1st alb; G. llalcliilo, lost 71b, These, with the platform, weighed 3,i:i3tb.
The odd spelling is due to OCR failures than bad spelling of the reports.

If you would like me to find any more reports I would be happy to do so.
"Great heavens, what is there to adulate in me? Am I particularly intelligent, or remarkably studious, or excruciatingly witty, or unusually accomplished, or exceptionally virtuous?"
(The Duke of Dunstable, Patience by Gilbert and Sullivan)

psychologist
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Re: Dan Sullivan strongest man from the 1800s?

Post by psychologist » Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:48 am

hi thanks for the info harry.

I think I have hit a dead end with Dan Sullivan, there are no photographs or birth or death dates for him just a few newspaper clippings. I was interested in the lifting elephant with his teeth feat. One of the clippings you cite says the elephant escaped from the building it was in.

How can one lift a living elephant by his teeth? Sullivan was associated with the circus so it may have been a trick act. I am not sure but the feat itself sounds impossible for me. It's a shame we will never know.

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Re: Dan Sullivan strongest man from the 1800s?

Post by peter yates » Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:57 am

Thanks to Daryll and Harry for this information. While the performing strongmen were as a whole really strong and could do some incredible things,they also had quite a few tricks up their sleeves. From the description of the elephant and how it escaped it seems it must have been a calf still. A full grown elephant would never have got through the alley for one thing.Even so a teeth lift of that nature may be stretching things. When my club put on charity fund raisers, one of my feats was the teeth lift.I was 16-17 at that time and 130lb, i would lift my coach who weighed around 200lb. It was not too difficult.Jaw and neck strength are the main requirements.Harry other reports would be most welcome.
Regards,Peter.
Peter Yates

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Harry Hayfield
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Re: Dan Sullivan strongest man from the 1800s?

Post by Harry Hayfield » Sun Aug 02, 2020 12:52 pm

Sporting Life, February 2nd 1892
"Dan Sullivan has undertaken to lift an elephant this day at 8.15 and 9.15"

Eastern Evening News, February 10th 1894
"Gilbert's Modern Circus (located at the) Agricultural Hall, Norwich (on) Monday, February the 5th 1894 (presents) another great sensational programme. Dan Sullivan, the Tipperary Wonder, direct from the Aquarium can only be seen this week!"

Kerry Evening Post, August 15th 1894
"Dan Sullivan, The Tipperary Wonder (direct from Paris), and company, will visit Tralee (a town in County Kerry, Ireland) Thursday, Friday and Saturday August 16, 17, 18 and in addition to other marvellous feats of strength will lift with his teeth a pony and cart together with four heavy men!"

Based on that therefore, we can deduce that he lifted the elephant on February 2nd 1892. Therefore I will look specfically for reports the following day, February 3rd 1892.

The Era, February 6th 1892
"He started by. swinging around with his teeth a weight of 56 lbs., and then in similar fashion treated one of 112 lbs. Next, with his feet in the air and sup- ported by his hands, he with his teeth lifted a 12st. (168 lbs) gentleman seated on a swinging bar. Then, with one finger only, he raised-a barrel -weighing 5 cwt (500 lbs). After this, with his teeth he engaged in a sort of tug-of-war against half-a-dozen sturdy opponents, and came off victorious, while finally he performed the extraordinary feat of lifting with his teeth a young elephant said to weigh about 1,500lbs"
Music Hall and Theatre Review, February 6th 1892
"...but the strong man succeeded in raising the mass to the extent of four inches, amidst considerable applause"
Dublin Sport, February 6th 1892
"He is thirty years of age...He weighs 12st (168 lbs), is 42 inches across the chest, 16 inches over the biceps, and stands 5 feet 8½ inches in height"
South Wales Echo, February 4th 1892
"The animal the elephant is not as deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door"
"Great heavens, what is there to adulate in me? Am I particularly intelligent, or remarkably studious, or excruciatingly witty, or unusually accomplished, or exceptionally virtuous?"
(The Duke of Dunstable, Patience by Gilbert and Sullivan)

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