Wild Bill Sullivan is probably the most colorful character
that South Mississippi has ever produced. Born in mid-18th century, he was the King of Sullivan's Hollow - a still-hard-to-find six-mile wide crescent of land in Smith, Jones, and Covington Counties southeast of Jacksoin near Saratoga and Mize, Mississippi - and was accused of
50 killings. However, in his lifetime, Bill was only indicted for one killing--of his own brother Wilson!
He was also the center of numerous pranks and jokes. Thomas Sullivan, founder of the Mississippi
branch of the clan, had 22 children, 11 by his white legal wife and 11 by his common-law Indian wife. Outsiders in the late 1800's feared stopping over in the Hollow because of Wild
Bill's reputed antipathy towards strangers. One traveler got caught at dark and stopped at the edge of the Hollow. He was
cordially greeted, fed, given a bed by the fire, and served a plentiful country breakfast. His host refused any pay for these
services. The traveler thanked his host and expressed his relief that he had met such a nice family and had avoided Wild Bill.
In reality, Wild Bill had been his host, but he sent the man on his way without revealing his identity.
Several of the Sullivan family were killed in the Battle of
Shiloh Church during the war of northern agression (Civil War). After later incidents, Wild Bill and
his son Neece had to hide out in the woods for 2 years. The Sullivan family descended from Wild Bill still lives in the area.
Sullivan's Hollow is a fiddle tune widely popular in the early 20's. Although
rather unusual in structure, it reflects a surprising calm about the area.
If you are interested in what Appalchian Old Time music sounds
like live, here is a rough recording of my band, The Hog Tossers, playing an American fiddle tune, Haning's Farewell.
From the Marion Thede book of old-time fiddle music published in the 1930's, this tune is in a strange mode: neither major
nor minor, but, we believe, Phrygian. Bob Borcherding, fiddle; Lynn Garren, guitar; Tony Scarimbolo, bass; and Harold Maurer,
banjo. Anyway, this was recorded at a dance in Milwaukee by one of the dancers. Hope you enjoy, mistakes and all...