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Ryan, James B.

Is a native of the Emerald Isle, having been born in Thurles, Tipperary County, and with his mother's family came to the United States in 1842 and settled near Washington, Daviess County, where they farmed for about five years. 

From the latter place he went to Edinburgh, in Johnson County, where he engaged in merchandising for three years; from there he came to Indianapolis, in the year 1850, and engaged as a clerk in the store of the late P.B.L. Smith, then located on the northeast corner of Pennsylvania and Washington streets, and continued with Mr. Smith until that establishment was sold to C.C. Elliott & Bro.  He remained with the latter firm until after the death of the senior partner.

He then, in connection with Calvin A. Elliott, continued the business under the Masonic Hall until they built their business house on the northwest corner of Meridian and Maryland streets in 1854, and where Mr. Ryan yet carries on business.

He has been connected with this house in all its changes for twenty years, and to judge from his present health, energy and industry, bids fair to remain for twenty more.

Mr. Ryan is a nephew of the late P.M. Brett, of Daviess County, who was its first Auditor, a man of learning and culture.  Although having lived in Indianapolis twenty years, Mr. Ryan yet claims to be a citizen of the "Pocket," as that was his first home in the United States, and many of his relatives yet reside in that portion of the State.

His first wife was the daughter of the late Judge John Smiley, who was the first white man that settled in Johnson County, and its first sheriff; he was, also, the first to represent, in the Legislature, the district composed of the counties of Johnson, Shelby and Bartholomew.  The father and daughter both sleep in the family burial ground at Edinburgh.

Mr. Ryan was nominated by the State Democratic Convention three successive times as its candidate for Treasurer of State, i.e., 1866-68-70.

He is a business man in the full sense of the word, but always finds time to keep himself well and correctly posted in political matters, and when before the people makes it a lively and speech-making canvass, and like his lamented brother, the late Richard J. Ryan, possesses the happy faculty of holding his audience spell-bound while he is speaking.

He is a man of sterling integrity, whose word is considered as good as his bond, and he possesses many other fine traits of character, which makes it necessary to be personally acquainted with him to be properly appreciated.


Nowland, John H. B., “Early Reminiscences of Indianapolis, with Short Biographical Sketches of Its Early Citizens, and of a Few of the Prominent Business Men of the Present Day,” 1870, pp. 378-380

Transcribed by Sherri Morem Bergman

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