The three Ryan boys came from Tipperary, Ireland, to New Orleans. Thomas, Patrick, and Philip. I don’t know the year. Philip and Patrick were both stonecutters. That’s all we know about the family in Ireland.

They were down in New Orleans for a while, and then they heard about all these jobs in Illinois, helping to build the canals. So they came up the Mississippi, and on the way Thomas was shot by Indians with a bow and arrow. That’s all the details I know, except that he lost an eye. He always wore a patch.

Thomas never married. He was the bachelor uncle. Cousin Nancy said he always told them stories of his adventures–coming up the river and so on–and some of them she felt were things he made up just to keep them entertained.

So they built the canals, and then Philip and Patrick married the McLaughlin sisters, Nancy and Ellen, whose family lived on a land grant around 131st and Wolf Road. It was a homestead.

Thomas McLaughlin, my great-grandfather, gave each couple 40 acres. But neither of the Ryan boys being farmers, they didn’t stay there very long.

My grandfather, Philip Ryan, came to Chicago with his children after his wife Nancy died. Nancy was mother of Tom, Ed, John, James, Margaret, Joe, Anna, and Rose. John was my father, Jack Ryan. He was born in 1873, two years after the Chicago Fire.

Philip Ryan got into the marble business in Chicago. Later his brother Patrick came to Chicago and got into the saloon business.

Philip let his farm go, but Patrick’s side of the family kept their part of the land down there by having someone live on it. The farmhouse was a shack almost. They had cows–a couple of cows, which Will used to take out to graze or whatever you call it. They had chickens and stuff like that, apple and pear trees, but they didn’t do any real farming.

It wasn’t a beautiful farm, but it was beautiful land. It’s now part of the forest preserve, the Tampier Slough.

Some of Patrick’s children stayed on the farm, and some of them came to the city. Cousin Nancy took an apartment at 12th and Crawford, now Roosevelt and Pulaski. Blanche stayed on the farm.

The apartment had a big Chicago bay window. You could look down 12th Street and Crawford Avenue–and as kids, we felt like you could see the whole world going by, with all these streetcars and wagons and horses and whatever else. It was upstairs of Stamm’s Drugstore. Nancy, Will, Art, and Jim lived up there. And Blanche and Leo and Phil lived out at the farm.

They kept the farm until–well, Blanche died. Nancy died out there. She moved back out there later. Will died before Nancy and Blanche. And then Jim was out there at the farm by himself. He was the only one there. This is the late 40s.

Somebody came around buying up land, and he signed the farm over for a few hundred dollars. So that was the farm.

Anyway, Jim got sick, and he went to County Hospital. I don’t know if he had cancer or what. But I remember that my father went down to visit him. He stayed most of the day, and then he came home. And he was only home a short time when he got a call saying Jim had died. I said, “Pa, why didn’t you stay with him?”

And he said, “I couldn’t stand it any longer, watching him die.”

Why did none of Patrick’s children get married? Nancy, Blanche, Phil, Will, Leo, Art, and Jim–none of them ever married. We asked Nancy one time why none of the boys married, and she said because whenever one of the boys brought someone home, if it looked like things were going to get serious the girls always made trouble.

So of all those kids–15 kids that the two Ryan boys had–my father was the only one to have children. Two of his sisters married late in life, but neither had children. And all of these others. It’s amazing, the Ryans, that not one of them–Pa was the only one. He had seven, and three died young. Isn’t that something?