Patrick “Paddy” Ryan

Death 14 Jul 1891 (aged 29–30)
Pine River, Cass County, Minnesota, USA
Burial Brainerd, Crow Wing County, Minnesota, USA
Plot Block 2, Lot 53 1/2, NWC
Memorial ID 100207648 · View Source
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       Pat. Ryan is Murdered near George
                  Barclay's Ranch with a
                           Butcher Knife.

     Squaw-Men, White Men and Red Men
                       All Take a Hand in


      The Unlawful Selling of Liquor at the
           Bottom of the Murderous Mess.

                             The Details.

      Patrick Ryan was murdered at Barclay's lumber ranch on Saturday morning last by being stabbed in the stomach three times with a butcher knife, and his body lay blistering in the hot rays of the sun until the authorities arrived from Brainerd on Sunday.
      On Saturday afternoon a Frenchman named Phillip Provo, came to this city and notified Coroner Bain that the murder had been committed, who immediately procured assistance in the person of J. McNaughton [or John McNaughton], and started for the scene, which is 38 miles from Brainerd, in the vicinity of White Fish lake and Pine River. They arrived there the next morning and found a sickening sight. Ryan's body lay some 300 yards from Barclay's ranch at the Indian camps in a pool of clotted blood. The butcher knife which did the bloody work lay beside the man's inanimate form which was cut and slashed in many places. In his stomach were three cuts, any one of which would have caused death. the back of both hands were cut and also his arms, and on the back of his head was a bruise as if made with a gun, and the supposition of many is that he was knocked down and then finished with the knife. Coroner Bain called a jury together and during that day and the next they labored studiously to get at the acts in the case, swearing witnesses, taking testimony, and going over the ground. The result of their deliberations was that Patrick Ryan met his death at the hands of Fred Ellis, a squaw-man, Wabash-can-we-gut, or White Cloud, a Leech Lake Indian, Wangh-bugh-chek, a White Oak Point Indian, and Caug-gee-geshic, chief of the Cass lake tribe.
      Just as the jury had reached this decision Sheriff Spalding arrived, he not having been notified until Sunday of the occurrence, and then only by rumor. The parties charged with the murder were all there and he put them under arrest and started for Brainerd that night, going as far as Jenkins. Here the party put up for the night, it being late and very dark. In the middle of the night Caug-gee-geshic complained of being very ill, and his hand-cuffs were loosened, and as he seemed to get worse Coroner Bain gave him an emetic, the red man almost throwing up his moccasins—in the absence of boots. In a short time he began rubbing his stomach and moaning again, and said he was "heep sick," so the dose was again given him with a similar result, and as he had emptied the pail the first time he did so the second time, but as he stepped to the door he gave a jump into the darkness and was gone. The Indian had played a very sharp trick. It was useless to follow him, and the party came on to Brainerd the next morning and landed the three prisoners in the county jail. They were brought up before the court for hearing on Wednesday but Ellis said there were some witnesses he desired at Barclays, in the persons of two squaws who he claims saw the whole transaction, the hearing was postponed until Monday at 10 o'clock.
      As near as can be ascertained from the parties who went up from Brainerd and the testimony given at the coroner's inquest the murder was the outcome of a drunken brawl, which was participated in by white men and Indians, and to judge from the scarred countenances of the witnesses and prisoners it must have been a terrible encounter. It seems that at Barclays whiskey and beer is sold as freely as in any saloon in Brainerd, and has been for some length of time in violation of the state law, and on this particular day "the boys" were having a high old time. Fred Ellis, who lives with a squaw at that place, came to Barclays in the evening, after having had a fight with his dusky wife, in which the red men at the wigwams interfered and gave him the worst of it. He obtained some court-plaster, washed his wounds, and in company with Pat. Ryan stepped up to the bar and drank for thirty minutes, according to his sworn statement. Ryan volunteered to go with him and "fix the Indians plenty," and they started. Ryan never came back alive, and his body was found next morning with a butcher knife lying beside it which belonged to Ellis, who accounted for it by saying that in the fight in the fore part of the evening the Indians took his knife and revolver. Ellis says an Indian chased him and he ran, leaving Ryan at the camp, and he finally came back and went to bed with the other fellows, and that in the morning Billy Burnett came and told them Ryan had been killed. The case is a complicated one. The Indian who escaped was covered with blood and said he got it by holding Ryan in his arms when he died, he, the Indian, having been attracted to the spot by groans, and on arriving found the man in a dying condition. It is more than probable that the Indian will be re-captured and every effort is being made in that direction. No one is to blame for losing him as all the cunning known to people of his tribe was brought into play.
      Phillip Provo was arrested on Tuesday and is being held, but from what we can learn the evidence is not very strong against him.
      Ryan's body was brought to this city on Monday night, and buried in Evergreen Cemetery. A gentleman who lives at Faribault, telegraphed to have it sent to him, but after it was prepared for shipment he telegraphed that they had discovered their son at Denver, alive and well, and that the murdered man was no relation of theirs.
      The following is the condensed testimony of the important witnesses at the coroner's inquest:

                  CHARLES ASHLAND

      Swore to the following before the jury: About 1:30 Saturday morning, Fred Ellis came to my house and knocked at my door. I asked him who was there and he said Ellis. I let him in and he said, "I want my tussock, I have had a hard deal and I don't want them to know." Ellis said further that he had a pretty bad deal, but he had finished one of them. I asked him who it was and he said he did not know. I saw the knife and recognized it as belonging to Mr. Ellis, and could recognize it again, because two Indians came to my house and they were drinking and forgot to take their knives. Ellis came in and saw the knives and said he wanted one of them, and I said I didn't care, so he took one of them. Saw the knife found by Ryan and recognized it as being the one taken from me. When he came to my house and woke me he said he had lost his knife and revolver. I was perfectly sober.

                  ELLIS' STATEMENT.

      At supper time (on Friday night) I was quite full, but at dark was when the trouble began. I went down to the camp and got to fighting with the woman, and Joe Valley tried to stop us. An Indian hit Joe and afterward hit me, and then the Chief hit me over the head with a gun. Then I ran into a tree-top and three or four Indians piled on top of me, and one of them bit my nose. The squaw took them off from me. I then started for the house and found I was going the wrong way for it, so came back and started for Chas. Ashland's, and got my gun and grip and brought them to Barclay's house. I washed myself and Mr. Ryan and Mrs. Barclay gave me some court plaster. We were drinking some beer, and Paddy Ryan said you got it this time. I said yes, and he said wait awhile and I'll go with you, and we will fix the Indians plenty. We drank about thirty minutes, then Ryan, myself and two men who were working for Barclay on the farm, started over. The farmers said we don't want to have any trouble, and I said no. When I had the row with the Indians the first time I lost my knife and revolver, and when we arrived there I had a lantern. As soon as we struck the wigwams the Indians rushed to meet us, and Paddy Ryan said, "I am going to fix one of them right now," and Joe Valley said you fellows don't want to have any trouble here. Then I and the fellows run and left Ryan talking by the fire with either Joe Valley or an Indian, and an Indian run after me and yelled at me to stop and I did so until he got close to me and then I run again until he yelled stop again which I did until he got close to me and saw he had something in his hand, did not know what it was. Then I hit him with the lantern and ran to the house, and when I reached the blacksmith shop found these other two fellows sitting there. One of them asked where the rest of the lads were. There were two other fellows with us, Billy Burnett and Jno. Stone, and we thought they had gone down to the drive at Whitefish, as they had to go that night. Then we went up stairs to bed, and next morning Bill Burnett came up stairs and told us Ryan was dead. Burnett said he asked my squaw who killed him and she said one of the Indians lying in one of the tents. Then we went to see him and found him dead. I then saw my squaw and wanted her to go with me on the drive, to move down there. The Indians told her they did not want her to go. After a while she said she would go, and we packed up and went down. Before we got down to the lake she told me that the two Indians killed him. I then thought that I might stay down there on the drive until I was wanted. I was told I was wanted and came up.

                  MAMIE VAGWIN.

      Fred Ellis is my husband. He was at my tent early in evening, which was last time he was there. There was no fight between Ellis and me. Did not see him until next morning at 6 o'clock, about breakfast time. Saw he had been fighting, and nose plastered up. He was drunk and I took children and went away. Never saw Paddy Ryan until he was dead at about 2:30 a. m. Saw one of the Indians holding him. Saw two squaws but did not talk with them.
      This squaw gave her testimony through an interpreter and afterwards admitted having a fight with Ellis, and that when Valley tried to part them some hit him and also Ellis, and that some one took Ellis' knife away from him, also his revolver. Some one afterward told her her husband was dead and she threw some water in his face, she thought it was him.

                  PHILLIP PROVO.

      Was in the house from 10:30 and heard Ellis say he was going out, but would be back soon, that was as I was going to bed at 12 o'clock. Had hired out to go driving in morning on Whitefish. Saw a knife lying by side of Mr. Ryan's body, handle was broke off, the wood part was gone. Mr. Ellis was man who showed it to me. The knife was at the tent of Mrs. Ellis.

                       OR WHITE CLOUD.

      The Indian, through an interpreter, said he slept with his wife that night until midnight, then got up and saw three or four white men, did not know what they wanted and went back to bed, and that is all he knew. Said he did not see the dead man, but afterwards contradicted it and admitted he saw him when the party went there. (Brainerd Dispatch, 17 July 1891, p. 1, c's. 3 & 4)

                     Held for Murder.

      At the preliminary examination of the prisoners arrested at the time of the murder of Pat Ryan which occurred on Monday, Fred Ellis and Phillip Provo were held to await the action of the grand jury, the two Indians being discharged from custody. The affair is still clouded in mystery so far as to who the actual person is who stabbed Ryan. The evidence against the Indians resulted in nothing except that they were in that vicinity during the day. As to the men held, the evidence produced was not sufficient ot convict them, but was enough to warrant their being held. There was hardly a spectator in the room at the time of the examination but who was convinced that the prisoners all knew who did the terrible deed if they had no hand in it themselves. In the meantime it is expected that considerable light will be shed upon the matter, and by the time court convenes the law will be able to lay its strong hands upon the guilty party. (Brainerd Dispatch, 24 July 1891, p. 4, c. 5)

      Mrs. Geo. Barclay has been arrested by Deputy Marshal Warren for selling whiskey to Indians and taken to Detroit for examination which will occur at that place to-day. (Brainerd Dispatch, 24 July 1891, p. 4, c. 4)

      Mrs. Barclay, who was arrested for selling liquor to Indians, was discharged for lack of evidence. (Brainerd Dispatch, 31 July 1891, p. 4, c. 5)

                  Fall Term of Court.

      District court opened on Monday morning with Judge Holland presiding, and bids fair to continue during the coming week. The grand jury completed its labors on Tuesday night, having found indictments against James McElroy for assault in the second degree, and against Mrs. Geo. Barclay for selling liquor without a license. No indictments were found against the men, Ellis and Provost, who were held for the murder of Paddy Ryan. (Brainerd Dispatch, 25 September 1891, p. 4, c. 6)

                      District Court.

                    CRIMINAL CASES.


      Mrs. Barclay pleaded not guilty of selling liquor without license, and case was continued to next term.
      James McElroy, assault in second degree. Verdict of assault in third degree.


(Brainerd Dispatch, 02 October 1891, p. 4, c. 5)


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  • Maintained by: A. Nelson
  • Originally Created by: GerbLady
  • Added: 5 Nov 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 100207648
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Patrick “Paddy” Ryan (1861–14 Jul 1891), Find A Grave Memorial no. 100207648, citing Evergreen Cemetery, Brainerd, Crow Wing County, Minnesota, USA ; Maintained by A. Nelson (contributor 47143984) .