Thursday, September 16, 2010

James A. Ryan: Journalist, Author, Postmaster

James A. Ryan was born in Sandusky in 1870, the son of Irish immigrants James and Ann Ryan. He began working in the composing room of the Sandusky Register when he was only eleven years old. By the time he was 21, he was a reporter for the Register. Mr. Ryan wrote a number of articles about the history of Sandusky and Erie County during the 1920’s and 1930’s for the Sandusky Register, the Star Journal, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. On June 23, 1911, James A. Ryan wrote an article for the Register about his experience as a passenger in the Hydro-Aeroplane of aviator Glenn H. Curtiss.

In April of 1900, James A. Ryan became the press agent for Cedar Point. He assisted Manager G.A. Boeckling with both the Cedar Point resort and the Nielson Opera House. For about a year, Mr. Ryan was in the theatrical business in Michigan and Indiana, but he returned to Sandusky in 1903. On September 1, 1914, Mr. Ryan was appointed to be Sandusky’s postmaster. Serving in this position during the Great War, Mr. Ryan was one of the organizers of the Erie County Welfare League. He also handled publicity for the Liberty Loan Drive and the Red Cross during the wartime years.

Below is a page from James A. Ryan’s book entitled The Town of Milan. He dedicated this copy of his book to the Sandusky Library Association on May 10, 1928.
James A. Ryan passed away on September 16, 1939. He was buried in Oakland Cemetery. An obituary for Mr. Ryan is found in the 1939 Obituary Notebook, housed with the genealogical books at the Sandusky Library. A scrapbook compiled by James A. Ryan was bequeathed to the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. The scrapbook contains newspaper clippings, letters, telegrams, photographs, and historical brochures which chronicle the life and career of Mr. Ryan. A very sad item in the scrapbook is the obituary for Wilson Ryan, the son of James and Caroline Ryan, who died at the age of two in 1897. An undated news article describes how James Ryan earned his first dollar. He saved money from his earnings at his first job with the Sandusky Register, in order to purchase a piece of furniture for his mother. It was a very happy event for young James when the furniture was finally delivered to his parents’ home.

To read some of the writings of James A. Ryan, visit the Sandusky Library. Over sixty local newspaper articles related to Mr. Ryan have been indexed in the Charles E. Frohman Index to the Sandusky Register and Star Journal, located on microfilm in the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. Mr. Ryan wrote articles for the Firelands Pioneer, which is also available at the Sandusky Library. See the index to the Firelands Pioneer for references to James A. Ryan. A newspaper tribute to James A. Ryan reads in part, “Editor, historian, postmaster, Board of Elections clerk and a public spirited citizen. That well describes James A. Ryan, whose death Sandusky mourns. Few men have played a more prominent part in this community than Mr. Ryan. He was honored on many occasions by the citizens of his home city and always carried his honors well.”

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