Michael Edward Ryan

Michael Edward Ryan

Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA
Death 17 Jan 1953 (aged 79)
Brainerd, Crow Wing County, Minnesota, USA
Burial Brainerd, Crow Wing County, Minnesota, USA
Plot Block 9, Lot 96, 5 ft. NEC
Memorial ID 78467568 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Living in Brainerd in 1905.

•See Leon J. Rofidal.
•See George W. Holland.
•See Henry B. McCarthy.
•See Asle G. Trommald
•See Wilhelm Schilb.
•See William St. Clair McClenahan.

17 October 1911. Concerning the claim of W. E. Lively for injury to a cow, the city council, under advice from city attorney Ryan, said that the cow was a trespasser by going onto the sewer right of way and falling in. There are no damages as the city didn't willfully injure the cow. (This Was Brainerd, Brainerd Dispatch, 17 October 2011)


    Swears to Faithfully Discharge Duties
                  of Office as Judge of
                       District Court


        Local Form of Oath Forwarded to
               Secretary of State; Ryan
                  Appointed Saturday

      Judge M. E. Ryan became officially today one of three judges in the 15th judicial district. He was appointed by Governor Theodore Christianson Saturday afternoon to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge W. S. McClenahan. He took his oath of office before W. A. M. Johnstone, clerk of district court in the clerk's office at the court house. The legal form of oath and signature was immediately dispatched to Mike Holm, secretary of state, for filing.
      The oath as taken by Judge Ryan follows:
      "I. M. E. Ryan, being first duly sworn, do solemnly swear that I will support the constitution of the United States of America and the constitution of the State of Minnesota and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of my office as judge of the district court for the fifteenth judicial district of the State of Minnesota to the best of my judgment and ability, so help me God." (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 27 January 1930, p. 7, c. 2)

                     A Legal Legacy

      Law books sit neatly on shelves defying the passing of years. They remind Don Ryan of being 14 and blowing dust off the books at his family's law office. The Ryan law office had a lengthy history in Brainerd. His great-grandfather, Michael Ryan, opened the law practice in 1903 downtown in the First National Bank building on South sixth and Front Streets.
      That legal legacy is now a few blocks away, part of a new display at the Crow Wing County Historical Society Museum. Don Ryan, Crow Wing County attorney donated the office furniture including the wooden desk and narrow drawer plat book and map cabinet. There are photos, letterhead, trial exhibits, even a spittoon. Together they recapture a vintage piece of small town Americana with a main street fixture in the law office and note a family legacy spanning 92 years and four generations.
      Family patriarch Michael Ryan was once a telegraph operator for the Burlington Northern Railroad [Northern Pacific]. With ambitions for better things he enrolled in law school. He stopped off in Brainerd on his way between Hibbing and St. Paul and decided this was the small town setting he was looking for to start a law practice. He arrived in Brainerd with his wife, three small children, his mother and $65. During his first month, he made $12. That grew into $15 by the next month. He was described by one of his sons as a dynamic trial lawyer who was so good at cross examinations witnesses shook on the stand, according to an article on the family in a 1984 William Mitchell magazine. He would go on to be a district court judge.
      By 1910, that dynamic trial lawyer moved his practice to the Citizens Bank in the Parker Building on Seventh and Laurel streets. But more people may remember the Ryan law office in the long building across the street from the historic courthouse.
      The law practice obviously made an impression, Michael Ryan's three sons, Clement, Donald I. and Joseph all followed him in the profession. They attended St. Paul College of Law, now William Mitchell. When it was all said and done, eight Ryans would graduate from the St. Paul law college.
      Clement and Donald joined their father's firm in Brainerd while their brother Joseph branched out and started a firm in Aitkin. In the 1960's, the third generation was ready to join the family business. Clement's son Robert and Donald's son Thomas joined the law office in Brainerd while Joseph's son Michael joined his father in Aitkin. Robert would go on to be a judge.
      In a Dispatch article years ago, the family noted a general practice law firm meant covering a lot of ground from electrical plants to hog diseases. The cons to working with the family, Thomas said, was having the public know his father or uncles and expecting him to be as good as they were. "Sometimes, that was a tough job," he said.
      Thomas' son Don Ryan joined the family firm in 1988. The legal lines in the family tree branched out to include Thomas' other son Patrick who became a lawyer. Another son, John, took a different but similar path and became a police officer.
      Other additions to the firm included Dick Ebert, Max Ruttger and Criston Drake. Eventually the practice on South Fourth Street was known as Ryan, Ryan, Ruttger and Drake. The Ryan law practice ended in 1995 after Don Ryan was elected as county attorney.
      Pieces of the family law office, from the furniture to the sign that once hung outside the office door, took up space in Don Ryan's house.
      For several years Don Ryan has worked with the historical society on the idea of the display. Most recently, Pam Nelson, historical society administrator, and Lynda Hall, assistant administrator, helped him with the display. When room used for storage on the third level opened up with the historical society's recent renovations, a corner next to the exposed brick wall seemed the perfect setting. Downtown business owner Ed Menk donated a glass display case for part of the exhibit.
      On a visit to the display, Don Ryan picked up a law book from the shelf remembering his teenage job of dusting off books. The smell of the leather-bound books with their aging paper remains a strong memory.
      "To me that smells like the law," he said.
      Years ago, his grandfather was hired by property owners by Rabbit Lake near Crosby to fight the mining company that wanted to drain the lake. With the testimony of a Native American woman who remembered traveling that route as part of water passage, his grandfather was able to prove the lake was a navigable water and thus protected. "The state couldn't drain it."
      When the Brainerd Armory was next to the law office, the tanks were parked outside the windows. The gun barrel from the tank pointed right into his father's office. Don Ryan said if negotiations were difficult, his father would open the curtains.
      "He figured it gave him an edge," Ryan joked.
      Now mementos of the family history are available to the public. Don Ryan said it just seemed right as a way to honor his family heritage.
      "I was blessed with a heritage in law," he said noting he was able to go off to school and "come back not only to a job but to a career. Not everybody is that lucky."
      A grand opening for the display is planned from 10 a. m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 8. (Brainerd Dispatch, 03 February 2014, pp. 1A & 7A)

Family Members


Sponsored by Ancestry


Plan a visit to Evergreen Cemetery?



  • Created by: A. Nelson
  • Added: 15 Oct 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 78467568
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Michael Edward Ryan (12 May 1873–17 Jan 1953), Find A Grave Memorial no. 78467568, citing Evergreen Cemetery, Brainerd, Crow Wing County, Minnesota, USA ; Maintained by A. Nelson (contributor 47143984) .