A Twentieth century history and biographical record of Crawford County, Kansas, by Home Authors; Illustrated. Published by Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, IL : 1905. 656 p. ill. Transcribed by staff and students at Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas.

1905 History of Crawford County Kansas


William H. Ryan, mayor of the city of Girard and one of the foremost agriculturists and business men of Crawford county, has been a conspicuous man of affairs in southeastern Kansas for a number of years, prominent as a legislator and in political matters, and public-spirited and progressive in all that pertains to the welfare of county and state.

He was born at Omaha, Nebraska, August 15, 1857, a son of William and Bridget (Daughney) Ryan, the former a native of London, England, and the latter of Canada, and both of Irish extraction. His father was brought to Canada at the age of five years, and lived there until 1854, when he went to Nebraska, where he remained until 1870, in which year he took up his residence in Neosho county, Kansas. For some time he was a contractor on the Northern Pacific Railroad, but after moving to Kansas followed farming until his death, which occurred in April, 1895, at the age of sixty-seven years. His wife died three years before, at the age of sixty-four. They were members of the Catholic church. They had eleven children, and nine are living at the present time.

Hon. W. H. Ryan received his education in the public schools of Kansas and at the Brothers School, a Catholic college at St. Paul, formerly Osage Mission, Kansas. He was reared to farm life and engaged in that occupation until 1882, when he embarked in the grain and mercantile business in Brazilton, Crawford county. This business has continued and prospered to the present time, and is now conducted under the name of W. H. Ryan and Sons, his son Charles H. being manager. Mr. Ryan was elected, by the fusionists of the county, to the lower house of the state legislature in 1892, and during his two years of service in that body was elected to the office of temporary speaker. The same constituents elected him to the state senate in 1896, and he was on the judiciary committee for four years. He took an active and public-spirited part in the legislation effected, and was the author of the bill, which became a law, making the office of mine inspector elective and thus placing it in the hands of the miners themselves.

Mr. Ryan was admitted to the bar in March, 1898, by Judge Simons, of the sixth judicial district, and since then he has been engaged in the practice of law in Girard. He was also admitted to practice before the supreme court, in February, 1903. He has large business interests to look after, and is the owner of fourteen hundred acres of Crawford county land, giving some of his attention to farming and stock raising. In April, 1903, he was chosen to the position of mayor of Girard on the citizens' ticket, Girard being normally two hundred Republican majority.

Mr. Ryan was married at Osage Mission, Kansas, in 1878, to Miss Ella Songer, a native of Iowa and a daughter of Harrison Songer and Jane Songer. Her father was one of the early settlers of Neosho county, Kansas, and died in 1880, aged seventy years. Eleven children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Ryan, as follows: Charles H., of Brazilton, mentioned above, married Miss Laura Hess, but has no living children; William H., Jr., a farmer near Brazilton, married Miss Kate Purden and has one child, Edna; Clarence M., a farmer near Brazilton, married Miss Lulu Hess, and has one child; George E., residing at home, is studying law in the office of Ryan and Phillips; Frank is farming on the home place and resides with his brother William; Belle is a student in the Girard high school; Lillie May is in the Girard schools; and Leonard, Ernest and Howard; and Andrew J., who died at the age of four months. Mr. and Mrs. Ryan are members of the Catholic church, and he affiliates with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.