from Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa by Manoah Hedge The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1906
Absalom Ryan, a representative of farming interests in Richland township, his home being on section 9, was born in West Virginia, December 11, 1830. His paternal grandfather was a native of Ireland and on crossing the Atlantic to the new world settled in West Virginia before the United States had any control over the land there. He became the owner of a tract of land of about four hundred acres and lived upon the frontier, sharing in all of the experiences, dangers and hardships of pioneer life. In those early days the trees were blazed with a tomahawk by the settlers in order to indicate the boundaries of their land. The grandmother of our subject was a native of Germany. Felix Ryan, the father of Absalom Ryan, was born in West Virginia, and after attaining his majority wedded Lea Frush, who was also born in that state. Coming to Iowa in 1853, they made their home in Mahaska county, where Felix Ryan died in 1854, at the age of forty-nine years. His wife long survived him and died October 13, 1892, at the age of eighty- six years. The old homestead property of the father was the birthplace of our subject, who resided thereon until he reached the age of twenty-one years. He well remembers the old log schoolhouse of the neighborhood with, its slab benches, puncheon floor and large fireplace. It was in that primitive structure that he pursued his education. School was conducted on the subscription plan, the parents having to pay a certain sum for the privilege of sending their children to the school. Mr. Ryan's educational privileges, however, were very limited. His father was a great horse fancier and when Absalom Ryan was twenty-one years of age his father gave him a stallion and for about a year and a half he took care of this horse. While he made his home upon his father's farm he often went as far as thirty miles with this horse. On the 12th of July, 1853, in company with two brothers, John and James, he started westward with five head of horses. They rode horseback all the way from their old home in West Virginia to Mahaska county, Iowa, and on the way visited relatives in Ohio, Indiana, and in Van Buren county, this state. It was a long trip but there were many pleasant incidents connected therewith. Today, although seventy- five years of age, Mr. Ryan can mount and ride a horse as well as many men of half his years. They arrived in Mahaska county on the 18th of September. Mr. Ryan had an uncle in Ohio who possessed a land warrant for eighty acres which had been given him in recognition of his services in the war of 1812. Mr. Ryan purchased this warrant and on reaching Mahaska county secured with it a claim of eighty acres on section 9, Richland township. He afterward purchased forty acres of government land on section 16, of the same township, at a dollar and a quarter per acre. There was a log house and a frame house on the claim when he entered it, but not knowing where the road was to be--for at that time no highway had been laid out-they lived in the frame house where it stood until the road had been made and then removed it to a more favorable location on the farm. The tract of land upon which Mr. Ryan took up his abode was in the midst of the forest, for he was accustomed to timber land and wanted to get that kind. The grove was five miles long and three miles wide. With characteristic energy he began the development and improvement of his farm and as the years have gone by he has added to his possessions until he now owns three hundred acres of valuable farming land, about one hundred acres of which he has cleared from the timber. He never missed having good crops and has always raised plenty of grain for bread stuffs. He never had to endure the hardships that fall to the lot of many pioneers, for he was always in good circumstances. A lover of horses, he has owned and, sold many fine animals. In connection with general farming he makes a specialty of raising and feeding hogs, which he finds to be more profitable than cattle. The year following his arrival his parents joined him in Mahaska county and continued to make their home with him until they were called to their final rest. In their family were eleven children: Washington S., now living in Nebraska; Absalom, of this review; Christian, who resides in Oregon; James, who died in Richland township; John, living in Newton, Iowa; Samuel, of Nebraska; Jehu, also of Nebraska; Elizabeth, the wife of Samuel Stalnaker, of Nebraska; Sarah, the deceased wife of Abel Proutty, of Nebraska; Elsie, the wife of John Baker, also of Nebraska; and Maria, the wife of Len Iler, of the same state. On the 30th of September, 1860, Absalom Ryan was united in marriage to Miss Comfort Allen, who was born in Ohio, October 11, 1834, a daughter of Jonathan Allen, who was a native of New York and removed to Ohio with his parents when two years of age. He came to Iowa in 1847 and for a number of years engaged in farming in Richland township, after which he began the operation of a sawmill in Jasper county, where his death occurred in 1856. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Roanna Tolburt, was born in West Virginia, and died in Richland township, January 7, 1853. Mrs. Ryan was the third in order of birth in a family of seven children and she has two brothers yet living: Daniel, who resides in Custer county, Nebraska; and Wilson, living in Decatur county, Iowa. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Ryan have been born nine children: Elam, who owns a good farm in Richland township and makes his home with his parents; Frank, who married Miss Martha Sheesley and is living on a farm in Richland township; Thomas and Absalom, at home; John, who is preparing for the practice of medicine as a student in Penn College in Oskaloosa; Flora, the wife of Ed Sheesley, of Richland township; Ida, deceased, who was the first wife of Ed Sheesley; Rachel at home; and Celia Ann, deceased. In 1894 Mr. Ryan built a large, two-story frame residence which he and his family now occupy. He has also built large barns and numerous outbuildings for the shelter of grain and stock. He has a good orchard upon the place and well kept fences, together with the latest improved machinery and altogether he has a model farm. For several years, however, he has done little actual work upon the farm himself but gives his supervision to its cultivation and management. He owns in addition to this property one hundred and sixty acres of land in Nebraska, where he and his wife often visit, a number of their children living in that state. Mr. Ryan enjoys good health for one of his years, but his wife recently has been in poor health, having suffered a stroke of paralysis. Both are valued members of the Methodist Episcopal church. Mr. Ryan is a democrat in his political views and has served as road supervisor and school director but would accept no other offices. He has done much to make good roads in this part of the county, helped lay out the first roads, and deserves much credit for his work in this connection. He has never used tobacco nor liquor in any form, living an upright, honorable life, and is spoken of as a "fine man." He is well liked by everybody and his home is a hospitable one. He is fond of reading and his table is covered with papers and books, showing that he keeps in touch with the current events and the trend of modern thought.
Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa
Mahaska County, Iowa Genealogy