Tuesday, March 22, 2016


1854 - 1924

George Washington Ryland was the third son of James & Charlotte Bond Ryland.  He had two older brothers: Francis Marion born in 1843 and James Arthur born in 1847.  The next child was a sister, Olive Clerzen, but she died in 1850 when she was just one year old.  George came next in 1854, then Charles Albert Eugene in 1857 and Alfred Adelbert in 1858.  The family moved from Ohio to Indiana shortly before 1850.  He belongs to my mother's side of the family.

My mother told a story of George Washington being kicked in the head by a mule or a horse – she couldn't remember the details – and he had brain damage to the extent that he never was able to live by himself after that.  She, of course, had been told the story by her mom, who married into the Ryland line, so grandma would have heard the story from her husband or her father-in-law.  And you know how facts get mixed up as a story is repeated again and again.

My sister and I were either told or assumed that this injury happened when he was a small child.  However, my own family history research seems to indicate that at least until his teenage years he was active in church and was faithful in attending Sunday School and Church.  An entry in the church register in the 1880s says "SICK" – and his name never appears again.  This is possibly when the injury happened.  He was not a small child.

The two older boys married and moved away from home in Indiana, Francis back to Ohio and James to Kansas.  Alfred died in 1887 when he was not yet 30, leaving Charles Albert as the only son close at hand to help the  parents as they aged.  And at a certain point in time Charles and his wife Mary Jennie also took over the care of George.  Eventually the Charles Ryland family moved to Gulfport, Mississippi, and that is where George died in 1924 at the age of 69.  There is nothing on his death certificate to indicate that he suffered from a head injury.  His cause of death is shown as "old age" and a contributing cause was "Cardiac Dilatation."

In thinking about poor George, it seems to me that he is a good representative of an Immortal Nobody.  Because of his injury, there was no part of his life that distinguished him, no mention is made of him other than on census reports.  Charles and family lived so far from any other of the family members that no notice of him ever appeared in the ephemera collected by several other Ryland genealogists in their researching.  I placed him on Findagrave.com, and a photographer named Barbara provided a good photo of his stone.  She graciously offered her photo for researchers' use, and for that I am grateful.  Absent a photo of him, it will stand as notice that George Washing Ryland will not be forgotten.  

He was my great-grandfather James Arthur Ryland's brother.

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