Washburn Co. WIGenWeb

People Histories

Hon. Andrew Ryan
 (Jul 1860 - 08 Apr 19251)


by J. H. Beers & Co., Chicago, IL, 1905

pages 357 - 358

Hon. Andrew Ryan, publisher of the Washburn County Register, is one of the influential citizens of Shell Lake. He is a native of Ireland, where he was born in July, 1860, son of Martin and Mary (Griffin) Ryan, who passed their lives in that country.  For many hundred years the Ryans have been farming people in Ireland.

Andrew Ryan attended the national schools in his native place, and in 1879 came to the United States.  After spending six weeks with his uncle, John B. Ryan, in Lafayette county, Wis., he became an employe of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, spending some time with that road on construction work in Wisconsin, and in Iowa on the line between Okoboji and Spirit Lake.  Later he went to the Twin Cities, where he found employment on the Chicago, Portage and Superior Railroad - better known as the Air Line - as store keeper, for F. L. Erickson, who had a twenty-mile contract, near what is now Superior Junction.  The failure of this concern left him, in common with all the employes, penniless, but the ignorant laborers held him responsible and threatened to mob him.  The rioters, who attempted to tear down the bridges on the Omaha road, took possession of "the headquarters camp," where they lived on the stores of provisions, until offered employment on that road, which was building a line to Superior to compete with the defunct Air Line.  For a number of years Mr. Ryan was employed by the Omaha road, in various capacities; he was for a time in the camp at Solon Springs, then store keeper for the same contractor, and later he had charge of supplies for Mullen & Prince, contractors, during the construction of the Rice Lake road, and was located at Rice Lake and Shell Lake.  He was subsequently baggage man at Spooner for several years.  In the autumn of 1888 he was elected sheriff of Washburn county, serving as such for two years, and since that time he resided in Shell Lake.  Meantime he had studied law, and in 1890 he bought the Washburn County Register, which had previously been published at Spooner, removing the plant to Shell Lake, where he continued to publish it.  This paper was established in 1889, by Bert Pease, and published later by Bond & Kitchen.  Under the able management of Mr. Ryan it has become one of the best local papers in Northern Wisconsin, and the printing establishment includes facilities for doing all kinds of job work.  Soon after establishing his paper Mr. Ryan built the first telephone line in Washburn county, and now operates a local exchange, with long distance connection over the Bell telephone lines.  In 1895 he started the Spooner Register, which he also printed in Shell Lake and which was later printed and published by J. G. Adams, at Spooner and is now merged in the Advocate of that place.  He has invested largely in farming and wild lands, and does considerable real estate business.  He has about 100 acres under cultivation, and is introducing thoroughbred live stock.  Since 1884 Mr. Ryan has been justice of the peace, doing most of the business in that line at the county seat now; and since 1884 has been a notary public, his first commission being signed by Gov. Jeremiah M. Risk.  Since coming to Wisconsin he has been a Republican, though he has been elected sheriff on the Democratic ticket. 

In January, 1891, Mr. Ryan married Kate Rafferty, daughter of Patrick Rafferty, of Rock Island, Ill.; they have one child, Roger.

1 - Editorial Note - Hon. Andrew Ryan's death date is derived from his death record, which is on file at the Washburn Co. Register of Deeds Office in Death Vol. 8, page 82.  Andrew and his wife are buried in the St. Joseph  Catholic Cemetery in Shell Lake. A transcript of her tombstone states that she was born in 1861 and died in 1934.


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