Thomas M. Ryan
Thomas M. Ryan, one of the most experienced vessel men connected with the Great Lakes, was born November 14, 1841. His father, John Ryan, was born in Ireland, about 1810, and came to America about 1830, locating in Canada, where he was married about 1837; his children were as follows: Margaret; Thomas M.; Charles J.; John; and M.J., of whom only Thomas M. and M.J. are still living. John Ryan died in August, 1886, and his widow in 1892.
Thomas Ryan was reared and educated in Buffalo, N.Y., and began his career on the lakes in 1855. At first he served as second cook on the steamer Dover, remaining on her one season. In 1856 he was cook on the tug R.L. Howard, and in 1857 he went into the shipyard of Daniel Conners, to learn the carpenter and ship building trade. There he served a three-years apprenticeship, and in 1860 went to New Orleans, where he worked at his trade until the breaking out of the Civil war, when he returned to Buffalo. In 1862 he bought the canalboat C.J. Ryan, and after running her one year sold her, and bought the Henry B. Miller, which he also sold, and went into the Army of West as a member of the engineer corps, serving in Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee. In 1865 he again returned to Buffalo, and bought the tug Swan, which he kept one year, and since then he has been a large owner of boats on the Erie Canal, buying and selling to suit his interests up to the number of nearly or quite two hundred boats. In 1893 he bought all the steam canal boats then running on Erie Canal belonging to the Anchor line. Of these there were eight, some of which he owns at the present time. In 1886-87 he was the manager of the Erie Boatman & Transportation Co.
Since 1870 Captain Ryan has been an extensive owner of vessel property on the lakes, in which year he bought the schooner Walt Sherman, which he sold a year later. This schooner is still afloat. He then built the tug Van Buren, and bought an interest in the tug Bruce, the latter of which he was the managing owner. In 1879 he bought the schooner China which went ashore in Georgian Bay in 1881, and became a total loss. In 1880 he bought the tug, Fred Copp, which he owned until 1885, in 1881 he bought the tug C. C. Ryan which is now at Grand Traverse, Mich.; in 1882 he built the tug Alonzo Dimick and also bought the America which was lost in 1888; in 1885 he bought the J. C. Christian, which he sold in 1887. In 1885 he bought the steambarge America, which he sold in 1887, the Princess Alexandria, which he lost the following year off Port Burwell, and the tug Seneca which he sold in 1888; in 1887 he bought the steamer Nipigon, 646 gross tons burden, which was built at St. Clair, Mich., in 1883 and which he sold in 1889; in 1888 he bought the steamer Stephen C. Clark and sold her in 1889 to the Tonawanda Lumber company; in 1890 he bought the steamer Ontario, which was wrecked on Lake Superior in 1891 with the loss of one man; in 1891, he bought the steamer C. C. Ryan, which was lost in 1892, also on Lake Superior; and the same year he bought the schooner Journeyman which he still owns; in 1893 he bought the schooner A. J. Rogers, which is of 322 tons register, and which he still owns, and the same year he bought the steamyacht High Bridge, which he also still owns. The High Bridge was built in Philadelphia, in 1874 and is forty-seven feet long.
In 1896 he purchased the steamer Emerald, and on March 8, 1897, bought the steamer Saginaw Valley which he still owns. At the present time Capt. Ryan owns the A. J. Rogers, the Journeyman and the High Bridge. The Journeyman is of 235.04 gross tons burden and is 129.9 feet long. At the present time he owns about fifteen canal boats and one half-interest in the Erie Canal Elevator and the Ryan Floater, his partner in the ownership and management of this property being Mr. Stephen C. Clark. They are among the largest forwarders on the lakes. The captain was first a member of the firm of Alexander Kendrick and Co., forwarders, then of the firm Van Buren & Noble, then Van Buren & Ryan, and lastly Thomas M. Ryan & Co., consisting of Thomas M Ryan and Stephen C. Clark which firm has been in existence for five years.
In 1865 Captain Ryan was married to Miss Mary J. Frawley, by whom he has had eight children, four of whom are still living as follows: John, a clergyman of the Catholic Church; Mary, a teacher; Charles C., with his father; and Stephen, in Manhattan College. Those deceased are Thomas, Frank, George and Thomas. Captain Ryan is one of those men whose untiring energy and perseverance have won for him an honorable and enviable position. He is a man possessing a great fund of common sense. In politics he has been an active Democrat, and for twenty-five years lived in the same district in Buffalo with ex-President Cleveland, and assisted in pushing him to the front, but has not been an office-seeker in his own behalf. He lives with his family at No. 345 Porter Ave, Buffalo, New York.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.