John Jacob “Jacob” Ryan, Jr

John Jacob “Jacob” Ryan, Jr

Death 17 Dec 1899 (aged 83)
Burial Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, USA
Memorial ID 19641374 · View Source
Suggest Edits

The "Father Of Lake Charles".
(From the Feb. 2, 1917, Lake Charles American Press)

"Jacob Ryan prominent citizen, hard worker and true friend reached the shores of Lake Charles when the prairie flowers came to the lake's edge on the east and south, and somber pines looked at their reflected images in the water from the north."
It is safe to conclude that no such poetical thoughts crossed the young gentleman's mind when he first saw this combination of forest, flowers and waves, as it was early in the yea r of our Lord 1817, almost exactly one hundred years ago, and he was but one year old.
Mr. Ryan was born at Perry's Bridge on the Vermilion river, Feb.14, 1816. His father, after whom he was named, was a planter and stock raiser who followed the star of empire as far as the virgin fairyland of Calcasieu, and here like the patriarchs of Bible story, he abode with his flocks and herds, his strong sons and fair daughters till death called him to his reward.
One of these sons, Isaac, was one of the immortals who fell at the massacre of the Alamo where his name stands inscribed for all time.
Jacob, the ``Father of Lake Charles,'' is the subject of this brief history.
While a digression, still it is interesting to note the names [UNINTELLIGIBLE] tore Elender ; Melissa, wife of Michel Elender; Sara, wife of (no first name listed) Vincent; Eliza, wife of Thomas Rigmaiden; Christine, wife of Lezime Royer; Susan, wife of (no first name listed)Clifton , and Artemise, wife of (no first name listed) Reon.
All the different branches of this large family have numerous descendants in different parts of the parish and are numbered among the best of our citizens.
Mr. Ryan moved from the prairies of west Calcasieu and lived for a time in the pine woods about six miles east of the present little city of De Quincy, and in 1850 he moved to Lake Charles .

Energy Abounds

Full of energy, he followed whatever occupation presented itself as honorable and lucrative : planter, stock raiser, mill owner, merchant, contractor.
He turned to each of these with the readiness of versatility, and in each he was a success . H e first entered the sawmill business by leasing a mill erected at Sittig' bluff on the Calcasieu river and shortly afterwards built his mill on the lake bank where warehouses and rice mills now thickly stand.
Fire swept away his fortunes three different times, but his energies rose superior to fate , and he battled on undaunted. On Dec. 17,1899, Mr. Ryan succumbed to weight of years. Never having any sickness worthy of the name, he went on his even way till life's machinery stopped[UNINTELLIGIBLE] (perhaps the first, at any rate, among the first, being succeeded by Jonathan H . Cole). This tenure of office was quiet as a whole, although more than once he found himself looking in to the muzzle of the guns of desperadoes he was endeavoring to arrest.
In those days, men did not fancy being taken into custody if they only killed a man in fair fight; somehow it was looked upon as humiliating and unethical.
He was elected to the legislature and served in the term of 1866-67.

In the Legislature

A journey to New Orleans, where the general assembly held its sitting, necessitated a trip by schooner to Galveston, thence to the Crescent City by steamer; a going east by way of the west with a vengeance.
Mr. Ryan's life, if properly written about would be almost a history of Lake Charles, which he saw started and help to build.
He, David J. Reid and J.L. Bilbo each secured one hundred and sixty acres of land, where the ity spreads out. A portion of the Ryan acres are comprised in that section between Division and Pujo streets, in the very heart of the municipality.
When Ryan street was laid out, the surveyor tore down his fences and ran their lines though his potato patch. Think of potatoes growing between Kaufman's corner and the Lake Charles Trust and Savings bank!)
[UNINTELLIGIBLE BEGINNING OF NEXT PARAGRAPH] The hours of labor were from``can't see to can't see,'' and sometimes the mill cut as high as 6000 feet in a day! But this little mill was doing its big part in building the town.
Men who have since been mayors and councilmen of Lake Charles, who have represented the parish in the legislature, who have been sheriffs and clerks and assessors, men who are today prominent as lawyers, physicians and heads of big business, look back to that little mill on the lake with a friendly thought, and with their mind's eye can see the brisk, clear-eyed gray-haired owner who was the busiest one among them all.

Court House Moved

When the parish site was established at Marion (which big sounding name is now known as Old Town) the people in the surrounding country did not especially appreciate the distinction.
So when Jacob Ryan and Samuel Kirby proposed to donate the land and hault he courthouse and fixtures down to Lake Charles and make this the capital, there was no objection and this city' s destiny was assured.
Mr. Ryan possessed land and any man who wished to purchase a lot on which to build his home , could secure one on time and easy payments. Lots were valued at $50 for desirable ones on Ryan street to considerable cheaper when you selected a few feet east or {UNINTELLIGIBLE] Daniel Goos, and the old family home still occupied by his daughter, Mrs. James P. Geary, was erected i n a great measure by his own hands.
Jacob Ryan's family, by his first wife, Rebecca (Bilbo) Ryan, were Asa, Ann, Issac, Margaret , J. Lawrence, Martha, George W., J. Anderson, Ira, Laura, Minerva, and Wm. Porter. His second wife was Miss Emma Platts, one child, Daisy, being born of that union and married to D.W. Ryan.
The war brought his share of grief and agony to Jacob Ryan. His eldest son, Asa, at the battle of Sharpsburg, Md., after seeing a comrade on each side instantly killed, had a leg shattered above the knee and suffered amputation.
Issac, like his famous uncle of the same name, was slain in battle. He had just received his furlough, but with the last deadly scene at Appomattox going on he remained with his command and laid down his life.
Lawrence was wounded in battle and was carried off the field by his cousin, O.R. Moss, of t his city, another honored scion of the same family.
George W. went through the war unscathed. Besides his children, he had thirty-two nephews wearing the Confederate gray, and most of them were killed.

RYAN, Jacob m. 6 Nov. 1834 Rebecca Gaines BILBO (Opel. Ct. Hse.: Mar. # 76)

He was my 4th great grandfather.


Plan a visit to Lake Charles, LA?



  • Maintained by: Michael Ryan
  • Originally Created by: Nancie Lovett Perdue Whitfield Dubard
  • Added: 31 May 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 19641374
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Jacob “Jacob” Ryan, Jr (14 Feb 1816–17 Dec 1899), Find A Grave Memorial no. 19641374, citing Bilbo Cemetery, Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, USA ; Maintained by Michael Ryan (contributor 47425388) .