“In 1646 the shoemakers of Boston, provoked by ‘much bad work produced by their craft,’ petitioned ‘Ye Governor of Ye Bay Colonie’ that ‘all boots might be alike made well.’ So began America’s pride in Craftsmanship. Pride in the production of the finest Quality still lives. It is in the spirit upon which in 1874 at Manchester, New Hampshire, Roger G. Sullivan founded 7-20-4–now the largest strictly hand-made cigar industry in the world….”
On July 9, 1930, page six of the Portsmouth (NH) Herald newspaper touted the above advertisement. At this time the company founder, Roger G. Sullivan had been dead for 12 years, but his legacy continues today.
Roger G. Sullivan was born in 1851 in Bradford NH of Irish parents. He lived most of his life in Manchester New Hampshire. His early education was in the public schools of Bradford and Manchester NH. At a young age began working at the Manchester Print Works. At the age of 14 he was indentured to learn the carriage-painting trade at South Amesbury MA for 3 years. At 19 he went into business as a cigar manufacturer, with two employees. In 1883 he started a cigar company that became famed in northern New Hampshire for selling a “ten cent cigar,” and eventually employing 200 people. His goods were sold throughout the United states.
In 1889 he built his first factory. In 1892 he built a new home in the Queen Anne style, on the corner of Walnut and Prospect Streets, at 168 Walnut Street in Manchester, New Hampshire. The house was designed by architect William M. Butterfield (1860-1932)
In 1895 he added an addition. In 1906 he opened a branch factory at the corner of Auburn and Canal streets in Manchester where in 1907 400 people were employed. Around that time he was manufacturing 12 million cigars a year. Most of these cigars were given the brand originally known as the “Gold Dust ten-cent cigar,” but Roger Sullivan changed to the name “7-20-4.” These cigars were “hand-made and composed of pure Havana filler and imported Sumatra wrapper.” [Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire, 1908, Lewis Publishing Co.]
In 1898 Roger Sullivan was a member of New Hampshire’s Executive Council [per Journal of the American-Irish Historical Society]. In 1910 R.G. Sullivan claimed to be the country’s largest maker of a 10 cent cigar brand (350 rollers making 7-20-4).
Before his death in 1918, Roger G. Sullivan was a director of the New Hampshire Fire Insurance Company the Amoskeag National Bank, the Manchester Traction Company, the Fire Insurance Company of NH and the Union Publishing Company. He was also a trustee of the Manchester Public Library. During his lifetime he had given an altar to St. Patrick’s Church at Hampton, New Hampshire, and with Judge John M. Mitchell of Concord built the Star of the Sea Church at York Beach Maine. Upon his death, his will mentioned many charitable bequests totaling $150,000 including gifts to the Order of the Sisters of Mercy, Sacred Heart Hospital, St. Martha’s Home, Boys and Girls Orphanages, and the Infant Asylum of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the Women’s Aid and Relief Society, the District Aid Nursing Association and the Infant Aid Association.
A Time Magazine article of Feb 9, 1931 states that the “7-20-4” cigars were “so-named according to legend because founder Sullivan got his start in business with the winnings of a lottery ticket numbered 7-20-4.” [Feb 9, 1931, Time Magazine] Willey’s semi-centennial book of Manchester, 1846-1896 by George Franklyn Willey, on page 309 states “changing this name [New Gold Dust cigar] later to “7-20-4” from the number of his factory, 724 Elm Street. This version of the cigar naming is much more credible.
In December of 1947 a “flash fire of undetermined origin swept through the fourth floor of the R.G. Sullivan Cigar company annex. The blaze was confined to the stripping and spreading room of the plant, but water damaged valuable tobacco there and on the three floors below. Damage was estimated at $50,000 [Nashua Telegraph, December 17, 1947, page 1].
The company closed in 1963. [Note Portsmouth Herald, of April 26, 1961: “A cigar factory, busy in this most populous of New Hampshire cities for 87 years has been sold and will close next week with a loss of 210 jobs. An official of the R.G. Sullivan Co. blamed Fidel Castro, a cigar smoked of some prominence. Said Joseph E. Epply yesterday when the closing was announced: ‘The Castro regime has made it increasingly difficult for us to secure Havana tobacco, which is, and we hope always will be an important part of the 7-20-4 and Dexter cigars made by the company.’ Epply said the business has been sold to Waitt & Bond Co., which will move it to its Scranton PA plant. Neither the building nor the land was sold. A Chamber of Commerce spokesman said, ‘A high percentage of the employees are in the upper age bracket and will find it difficult to gain new employment.’]
The 52,670 square foot, seven story R.G. Sullivan Building building was and still is located at 175 Canal Street in Manchester, NH. The space was converted into a first class office building in 1986. It was owned by the Gulf Coast Commercial Corporation, and in 1998 it was sold for $2.4 million to the New Boston Fund, Inc.
On April 3, 2008, the Union Leader (newspaper) announced that a Hooksett tobacconist now owns the rights to R.G. Sullivan’s 7-20-4 brand, and plans to market a modern version. According to Cigar Report Daily, Kurt Kendall, owner of the Twin Smoke Shops in Londonderry and Hooksett NH is finalizing the blend and is going for a “rich,full-bodied cigar,” but it will be “very smooth.”
Employees of 7-20-4, R.G. Sullivan Cigar Factory, Manchester N.H., no 192, June 24, 1921 – Library of Congress
The Granite Monthly: “Fifty Years of Cigar Making in New Hampshire”
***GENEALOGY OF ROGER G. SULLIVAN**
Michael Sullivan was born about 1810 in County Kerry Ireland. He emigrated to the United States and settled in Lebanon, NH. He soon moved to Bradford NH and in 1859 removed again to Manchester NH. He was a laborer and a trader. He died before 1880. He married Julia Kane, a native of County Kerry, Ireland, and they had nine children. She was b. abt 1820 in Ireland, and died 23 Jul 1895 in Manchester NH. She was buried (Old) St. Joseph Cemetery.
U.S. Census > 1850 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Merrimack > Bradford
Michael Sullivan 40 M Laborer Ireland
Julia Sullivan 30 F Ireland
John Sullivan 2 M NH
Dennis Sullivan 1 M NH
Helen Sullivan 20 F Ireland
U.S. Census > 1860 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Hillsborough > Manchester Ward 1 [note: birthplace shows Maine, but should be NH]
Michael Sullivan 50 M W Laborer Ireland [b abt 1810]
Julia Sullivan 42 F Laborer Ireland
Nell Sullivan 48 F W Ireland
John Sullivan 12 M Maine
Dennis Sullivan 10 M Maine
Michael Sullivan Jr. 9 M Maine
Cornelius Sullivan 8 M ME
Rodger Sullivan 6 M Maine
Thomas Sullivan 5 M Maine
Mary Sullivan 3 F Maine
Margaret Sullivan 4/12 F Maine
Julia Sullivan 2 F Maine
1880 US Census > New Hampshire > Hillsborough > Manchester > District 133 > 1 [237 Pine Street]
Sullivan, Julia W F 60 Keeping House Ireland
Sullivan, John W M 31 son Laborer NH
Sullivan, Dennis W M 30 son at home NH
Sullivan, Michael J. W M 28 son cigar-maker NH
Sullivan, Cornelius W M 27 son cigar-maker NH
Sullivan, Thomas F. W M 25 son cigar-maker NH
Sullivan, Mary W F 22 daughter works in cotton mill NH
Children of Michael & Julia (Kane) Sullivan include:
1. John Sullivan, b. abt 1848 NH
2. Dennis Sullivan, b abt 1850 in Bradford NH NH; m. 14 Jun 1884 in Manchester NH to Mary Sullivan. She b. abt 1859 in Boston MA
3. +Michael J. Sullivan, b. Feb 1855 in Bradford NH; m. 24 Jun 1890 in NH to Mary G. Sheehan, dau of John & Margaret Sheehan
4. Cornelius Sullivan, b abt 1862 Bradford NH; died 14 Nov 1883 Manchester NH of pneumonia; cigar maker
5. +Roger “Rodger” G. Sullivan, b. 18 Dec 1854 in Bradford NH.
6. Thomas F. Sullivan, b. abt 1855 Bradford NH; m. 8 Jan 1889 Manchester NH to Ann Mahoney,
7. Mary B. Sullivan, b. abt 1857 NH; m. Benjamin J. Spaulding; res. Manchester NH
8. Julia Sullivan, b. abt 1858 NH
9. Margaret Sullivan, b. abt 1860 NH
Michael J. Sullivan, son of Michael and Julia (Kane) Sullivan, was b. Feb 1855 in Bradford NH and d. aft 1910; he married 24 Jun 1890 in Manchester NH to Mary G. Sheehan, dau of John & Margaret T. (Sullivan) Sheehan. She b. July 1865 Townsend, Mass and d. 11 June 1918 in Manchester NH.; He was a manager in the cigar factory.
1900 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester
Michael J. Sullivan 45 b Feb 1855 married 10 yrs NH Ire Ire
Mary G. SUllivan 33 wife b July 1866 5 ch 3 living Mass Ire Ire
Roger J. Sullivan 9 son June 1890 NH NH Mass
John A. Sullivan 7 son b Jan 1893 NH NH Mass
Francis Sullivan 3 son b Dec 1896 3 single NH NH Mass
1910 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester
Michael Sullivan 55 m1x 20 yrs NH Ire Ire manager cigar factory
Mary G. Sullivan 45 wife m1x 20 yrs 8 ch 6 living MA
Roger Sullivan 19 single NH shipping clerk, cigar factory
John Sullivan 17 single NH cigar maker
Francis Sullivan 13 single NH no occup
George Sullivan 9 single NH no occup
Mary S. Sullivan 9 single NH no occup
D. Bradley Sullivan 6 single nh no occup
Children of Michael J. & Mary (Sheehan) Sullivan:
1. +Roger John Sullivan, b. 2 June 1891 Manchester, NH
2. John A. Sullivan, b. Jan 1893 NH
3. Francis J. Sullivan, b. 16 Dec 1896 Manchester, NH; died 11 March 1937 Manchester NH; married Florence Cook; he is buried in St. Joseph Cemetery; stockbroker.
4. George Sullivan, b abt 1901 NH
5. Mary S. Sullivan, b abt 1901 NH
6. Dennis Bradley Sullivan, b. abt 1904 NH; in 1930 living in Boston MA, stockbroker. In 1940 living in Boston MA with wife Anna V, and sons Dennis and Thomas.
Roger G. Sullivan, son of Michael and Julia (Kane) Sullivan, was born in Bradford NH 18 December 1854. He died 13 July 1918 in a Boston MA hospital. He married 1877 to Susan C. Fernald of Manchester NH, dau of True O. and Susan G. Fernald. She died 8 January 1934. They had three daughters. Mr. Sullivan was a Democrat and was prominent in the Knights of Columbus. He built a summer home at York Beach, Maine, where he was also a real estate investor. [Reportedly one of the family’s maids was the first patient of the York Hospital that opened in 1906] They resided 168 Walnut Street in Manchester, New Hampshire. His home was built in 1892 in the Queen Anne style, on the corner of Walnut and Prospect Streets. It was designed by William M. Butterfield (1860-1932). Roger attended St. Joseph Cathedral (Catholic), and was a member of the Amoskeag Veterans and the Derryfield Club. For more of his biography and information about his family and ancestry, see partial genealogy below. [York hospital]
U.S. Census > 1900 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Hillsborough > Manchester Ward 2 > District 93
Sullivan Roger G. Head W M Dec 1854 45 married 23 years NH Ire Ire mfg cigars
Sullivan, Susan C. wife W F Sept 1854 45 married 23 yrs 3 ch 3 living NH NH NH
Sullivan, Minna E. dau W F Aug 1879 21 single NH NH NH
Sullivan, Susan A. dau W F Feb 1880 20 single NH NH NH
Sullivan, Frances E. dau W F July 1881 18 single NH NH NH
O’Connor, Margaret servant W F Apr 1860 40 single Ire Ire Ire imm 1878 22 yrs in US, servant
McSweeney, Minnie, servant W F June 1877 22 single Ire Ire Ire imm 1896 4 yrs in US, servant
Portsmouth Herald (Portsmouth, New Hampshire) > 1934 > January > 15
In the will of the late Mrs. Susan G. Sullivan of Manchester, widow of the late Roger G. Sullivan, her estate estimated at $125,000 is left to her three daughters, Mrs. Minna E. Flynn, Mrs. Susan A. Epply and Mrs. Frances E. Driscoll, all of Manchester. According to inventory filed at Nashua, the real property of Mrs. Sullivan, president of the R.G. Sullivan company until her death last week, was valued at $25,000 while the estimate on her personal property was placed at $100,000. It includes a beautiful summer home at York Beach. [In May of 1934, the 3 daughters deeded land and buildings southwesterly of Country Road, Short Sands, York Beach, Maine to Cyrille and Marie Eva Lessard, both of York ME]
Children of Roger G. & Susan C. (Fernald) Sullivan:
1. +Minna Eva Sullivan, b. 20 August 1878 in Manchester NH, died 3 July 1947; married Joseph F. Flynn.
2. +Susan Alta Sullivan, b. Feb 1880 in Manchester NH; On October 12, 1910 she married Joseph Walter Epply.
3. +Frances Emma Sullivan, b. 30 July 1881 in Manchester NH; m. James G. Driscoll.
Roger John Sullivan, son of Michael J. & Mary (Sheehan) Sullivan, b. 2 June 1891, d. 11 Aug 1943 in Revere, Suffolk Co. MA; m. 12 Oct 1916 in NH to Katherine H. Morton, dau of Michael L. & Mary S. (Driscoll) Morton. World War I Draft Registration states he was Head Shipping Dept. RG Sullivan Co.; Resided North Bay Street in 1940.
1940 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester
Roger J. Sullivan 48
Katherine M. Sullivan 46
Katherine M. Sullivan 22
Gertrude M. Sullivan 19
Susan A. Sullivan 16
OBITUARY from UnionLeader.com: “GEORGETOWN, Texas – Susan Sullivan Hecht, a Manchester, N.H., native and descendant of the family that operated the famed R.G. Sullivan Cigar Factory, died April 27, 2012, of cancer at her retirement home. She was 88. Mrs. Hecht, who attended Manchester (N.H.) Central High School and graduated from the Boston Children’s Hospital School of Nursing, was the daughter of a former cigar factory executive, Roger J. Sullivan, and Katherine Morton. Her great uncle, Roger G. Sullivan, founded the factory – still a fixture of the Manchester, N.H., skyline – and worked there with her grandfather, Michael J. Sullivan. Mrs. Hecht, a longtime Head Start nurse in Southern California, began her nursing career in the Army Nurse Cadet Corps at Fort Devens, Mass. She attended the University of Michigan and graduated from the University of Redlands. Her husband, engineer and patent attorney Lester Hecht Jr., died in 1973. She is survived by three daughters, Gretchen and Heidi Hecht in Georgetown, and Gobind Kaur Boyes in Long Beach, Calif.; and two sons, Michael Hecht in Los Angeles and Peter Hecht in Diamond Springs, Calif.; and eight grandchildren. She is to be buried in the Sullivan family plot in a private ceremony at St. Joseph Cemetery.”
Children of Roger J. & Katherine H. (Morton) Sullivan:
1. Katherine M. Sullivan, b. abt 1918 NH
2. Gertrude M. Sullivan, b. abt 1921 NH
3. + Susan A. Sullivan, b. abt 1924 NH
Minna Eva Sullivan, daughter of Roger G. & Susan C. (Fernald) Sullivan was b. 20 Aug 1878 in Manchester NH, and d. 3 July 1947. She was educated at Montreal and at Northampton MA. She traveled extensively in Europe after completing the course in the American schools. She married abt 1911 to Joseph F. Flynn of Ridgway PA, a graduate of Yale Law School. He died before 1930 when Minna is shown living in Manchester a widow. He is buried in St. Joseph Cemetery, Manchester NH. In 1934 she was residing at 169 Walnut Street, Manchester NH; living in 1939 in Manchester NH.
U.S. Census > 1920 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Hillsborough > Manchester Ward 2 > District 86
Flynn, Joseph F. Head M W 38 married PA Ireland Ireland, General Manager, Cigar Factory [b abt 1882]
Flynn, Minna Eva wife F W 41 married NH NH NH
Flynn, Judith E. dau F W 9 single NH
Flynn, Roger G. dau [should be son] M W 7 single NH
Flynn, Joseph S. son W M 6 single NH
Flynn, Minerva Virginia dau S W 4-7/12 NH
Flynn, Edith J. dau F W 1-9/12 single NH
Sullivan, Mary J. wife’s aunt F W 61 widow MA Ire Ire
Cleveland, Ardell servant F W 50 widow VT
Mills, Frances servant F W 20 single NH
Children of Joseph F. & Minna E. (Sullivan) Flynn:
1. Judith Elizabeth Flynn, b. 4 June 1910/1911 Manchester NH
2. Roger Gerrish Flynn, b. 3 Feb 1912 Manchester NH
3. Joseph Simon Flynn, b. 10 May 1913 Manchester NH
4. Minerva “Minna” Virginia Flynn, b. 7 May 1915 Manchester NH; she d. 16 April 2007. She married Dr. Robert A. Johnson. Dr. Johnson died 18 May 2001. He was born 21 Sep 1914 in Pittsfield NH, and was a graduate of Bates College and Albany Medical School. Children, Amy Edith Johnson of Jersey City NJ, Robert Flynn Johnson of San Francisco CA, and Richard Andrew Johnson of Braintree MA. Minna was a member of the American Antiquarian Society. She and her husband donated photographs to the Currier Gallery of Art in Manchester NH. They resided in Worcester MA, New Castle NH, and Exeter NH.
5. Edith Furnald Flynn, b. 25 March 1918 Manchester NH
Susan Alta Sullivan, daughter of Roger G. & Susan C. (Fernald) Sullivan, was born Feb 1880 in Manchester NH. She obtained her education at the Visitation Convent, Georgetown, District of Columbia. On October 12, 1910 she married Joseph Walter Epply. He was born 8 Sep 1884 in Erie PA and d. June 1975 in Manchester NH. In 1912 he was a part owner in the firm of Kimball and Epply, a manufacturer of wooden boxes. In 1923 he joined his father-in-law at R.G. Sullivan. In 1911 living at 1910 Elm Street, Manchester NH. In 1925 he was president of the Manchester Rotary Club [Portsmouth Herald, Apr 24, 1925, page 5]. In 1925 he was president of the Manchester Country Club [PH, Sept 19, 1928, page 2]. In 1938 he was a director of the NH Public Service Commission [PH, Feb 5, 1938, page 2] and he was appointed to the NH State Board of Education [PH, Nov 30, 1938, page 5]. They resided in Manchester and Goffstown New Hampshire.
1920 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Hillsborough > Manchester Ward 1 > District 83
Epply, Joseph W. Head M W 35 married PA PA PA, owner, box shop
Epply, Susan A. wife F W 39 married NH NH NH
Epply, Susan J. daughter F W 8 single NY PA NH
Epply, Joseph W. son M W 6 single NH PA NH
Epply, Hester Ruth daughter F W 5-3/12 single NH PA NH
Epply, Walter, son M W 3-2/12 single NH PA NH
Epply, Roger Louis son M W 7/12 single NH PA NH
Kenney, Mable, Mrs. servant, F W 43 married NH NH NY
Gallagher, Agnes, servant F W 23 single NH NH NH
In 1930 Joseph W. and Susan Epply living in Goffstown NH with children: Susan (age 18), Joseph W. (age 17), Hester (age 15), Walter (age 13), Roger (age 10) and William (age 7).
Children of Joseph W. & Susan A. (Sullivan) Epply:
1. Susan J. Epply, b. 3/11 Aug 1911 in Buffalo NY and d. 15 Jan 2001 Manchester NH; res. 1910 Elm Street
2. Joseph Walter Epply, b. 25 Feb 1913, d. 1 June 1974 Boston MA. He married in Boston MA on 3 Apr 1943 to Barbara Edith Schofield, dau of Mrs. George A. Schofield Jr. of Ipswich MA. He attended Newman School in Lakewood NJ and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At the time of his marriage he was in flight training in the Air Transport Command
3. Hester Ruth Epply, b. 27 Oct 1914 in Manchester NH; d. 17 July 1995 in Carrollton, VA
4. Walter George Epply, b 14 Nov 1916 Manchester NH; died 21 July 1944
5. Roger Louis Epply, b. 7 Jun 1919 NH, d. 2 July 1996 Old Saybrook CT, widow (wife Patricia), artist. A graduate of the Vesper George School of Art, Boston, Mass., he was greatly influenced by the realism of New England artists such as Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper and James McNeil Whistler. He was an Army Photographer in the Pacific during World War II and a Marine Photographer of the Off Soundings Races in Long Island Sound. Mr.Epply also photographed commercial shipping on the Connecticut River and New York Harbor.
6. William Robert Epply, b. 1922 Manchester NH. He became engaged in 1949 to Loraine Drury, daughter of Allen N. Drury of Leominster MA. He served with the Naval Air Arm in WWII and graduated from the Newman School in Lakewood, N.J
Frances Emma Sullivan, daughter of Roger G. & Susan C. (Fernald) Sullivan was born 30 July 1881 in Manchester NH; She married James G. Driscoll. He was b. 14 Oct 1886 at Whilinsville MA [per ship log in 1921] and d. 11 January 1941. He was a wholesale tobacco broker and later manager at the R.G. Cigar Factory. They resided in Manhattan NY and in Manchester NH.
Historical Newspapers > Portsmouth Herald (Portsmouth, New Hampshire) > 1941 > January > 13 (Monday)
York Beach Visitor Dies / Funeral services were held in Manchester today for James Glynn Driscoll, prominent resident of York Beach for a great many years who died Saturday morning in Manchester. He will be remembered by many as a member of the famous Dartmouth baseball team which played at York Beach during the summer of 1908. The team was later disqualified as being professionals, and that left Dartmouth the next spring without a baseball team. Mr. Driscoll married Miss Frances E. Sullivan, daughter of the late Roger G. Sullivan, also a former York beach resident. He was a governor of the York County Club. Following his graduation from Dartmouth he held a partnership in the tobacco brokers firm of Ruth and Driscoll. After the death of Roger Sullivan in 1918 Mr. Driscoll came to Manchester as co-manager of the 7-20-4 Factory and when the firm reorganized in 1925 became vice president, a position he held at the time of his death.
U.S. Census > 1920 United States Federal Census > New York > New York > Manhattan Assembly District 9 > District 693
Driscoll, James G. Head M W 35 married MA Ireland, MA, wholesale broker, tobacco
Driscoll, Frances E wife F W 38 married NH NH NH
Driscoll, Mary F. daughter F W 8 single NH MA NH
Driscoll, Cordelia F. daughter F W 4-6/12 single NH MA NH
Driscoll, James G. son M W 2-2/12 single NH MA NH
McHale, Alice E. servant F W 28 single imm 1910 alien Ire Ire Ire
U.S. Census > 1930 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Hillsborough > Manchester > District 23 [Elm Street]
Driscoll, James G. Head M W 46 married at age 27 MA — Maine, manager cigar factory
Driscoll, Frances Wife 30,000 F W 48 married at age 29 NH NH NH
Driscoll, Margie F. dau F W 18 single NH MA NH
Driscoll, Cordelia F. dau F W 14 single NH MA NH
Driscoll, James G. Jr. son M W 12 single NH MA NH
[plus 2 servants]
Children of James G. & Frances E. (Sullivan) Driscoll:
1. Mary F. Driscoll, b. 8 Dec 1911 Manchester NH
2. Cordelia F. Driscoll, b. 14 Apr 1915 Manchester NH; m. 25 Jul 1942 in Manchester NH to Thomas Pascal Fullam
3. James G. Driscoll, b 27 Sep 1917 Manchester NH
[article updated February 2013]