Solomon Ryan

SOLOMON RYAN, one of the oldest residents of Lowell township, Cherokee County, living in section 9, township 34, range 25, and owning 400 acres of land in the township, is also a veteran of the Civil War and one of the most highly esteemed citizens of this section of country. Mr. Ryan was born in 1840, in New Brunswick, and is a son of Henry and Mary (Blakeny) Ryan.

Both parents of Mr. Ryan were born in New Brunswick, where the father followed farming until 1855, when he removed to Bureau County, Illinois, and spent two years, and in the fall of 1857 removed to Coffey County, Kansas. After farming there for nine years, he came to Cherokee County and in 1866 settled in Lowell township, on Spring River, where he started a ferry in 1867 and continued to operate it for a number of years, greatly to the convenience of the public. Old letters and local histories have mention of this ferry as it became a general stopping place for travelers, many families camping near by for a rest before penetrating farther into the Indian country. The Indians were still very numerous here, but Mr. Ryan and his family soon established friendly relations and our subject can recall his father going out with them to spear and even shoot fish, which at that time filled the various streams. He also accompanied them to hunt deer and other game, and with them as companions spent many days in the hunt. Mr. Ryan bought an Indian "Headright." which property adjoins our subject's farm. He continued to operate his ferry long after Galena was founded. His wife died on the farm on Short Creek, in 1875, and his death took place in October, 1886. Of their nine children, four grew to maturity, but the only survivors are our esteemed subject and his sister,—Martha, wife of William Stephenson, of Galena.

Our subject was the oldest member of the family and attended school in Illinois and in Coffey County, Kansas, and assisted his father in his farming. The call to arms, in 186I, found him ready to respond and in the fall of that year he enlisted in the 6th Regiment, Kansas Vol. Inf., being later transferred to the 8th Regiment Kansas Vol. Inf., and served three years in this regiment and one year as a veteran in Hancock's Veteran Corps. Mr. Ryan in his four years of army service saw hard work and participated in many battles and assisted in the triumphs on many fields. Under Capt. (later Col.) John Conover, he took part in the Atlanta campaign and belonged to one of the first regiments to enter the Southern city. Miraculously preserved through these adventurous four years, he was honorably discharged in the spring of 1866.

The family now removed to Cherokee County and became identified with the interests of Lowell township. Our subject made a first purchase of 80 acres and now owns 400 acres in Lowell township, 200 in Linn County and an interest in 126 acres in Bourbon County on which two gas wells and two oil wells have been developed. In 1897 he purchased a flouring mill at Lowell, which he operated seven years when he sold out. In Lowell township, his land is situated in sections 16, 9 and 15, township 34, range 25. In 1901 he erected a fine modern residence in section 9, one of the most comfortable and attractive ones of the township. When he first located here, the matter of transportation was a very serious question and the present excellent public highways and fine bridges have been constructed mainly through his continued efforts. To his public spirit many of the improvements of Lowell township are due and he is justly considered one of the representative men of this locality. One of the most successful farmers, he is also one of the most prominent township officials, having served for a number of years as township treasurer and as school treasurer of District No. 28, and has been a school officer for the past 28 years. During the first winter after settling in Lowell township, our subject and his father built the first subscription school house in this locality and the father served many years as a school director. Both father and son have been men whose advice and assistance have been of the greatest value to the community.

Our subject was married in 1876 to Maggie Welch, who was born in Indiana, and is a daughter of Patrick Welch, who, with his wife, resides in Texas. Eleven children were born to this marriage, namely: Lillian May, who married Charles Esterbrook, of Lexington, Missouri, and has one son,—Otto; George and Minnie, who are at home; Lenora Belle, who is a graduate of the Columbus High School and the Sedalia Business College, and a very accomplished young lady; Emily, who is at home; Charles and Edward (twins), both of whom are in the United States Navy; Frederick and John, who are at home; Clara, who died on Christmas Eve, 1900, aged four years; and Elsie.

There still remain traces in this section of the days when it was the home of the aborigines. One of these is a historic spot, an Indian graveyard, in one of Mr. Ryan's pasture lots. Mr. Ryan's father purchased the claim from a well known Indian named Morgam, who was well known in Cherokee County and was a son of an Osage chief. In the early days Mr. Ryan has attended the Indian dances and his recollections of the conditions in those days are intensely interesting. He belonged to a branch of the Land League which was organized by Frank McDowell and took an active part in many of the exciting conflicts between the League and the railroads.

Out of all those early troubles have come forth civilized conditions not to be excelled in the Middle West, and Mr. Ryan is a type of the class of resolute, earnest men whose labors have brought prosperity, comfort and security to this beautiful part of Kansas.


History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, instructor from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 3/11/97.


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