Gue, B.F. Biographies and Portraits of the Progressive Men of Iowa. Des Moines, IA, USA: Conaway & Shaw Publishers, 1899.
[p.147] PROGRESSIVE MEN OF IOWA.
Ryan, Hon. David,of Des Moines, served three terms as district judge in the Sixth judicial district. His father, Lewis S. Ryan, who died in Jasper county in 1860, was early in his life connected with a line of steamers on the Hudson river, plying between New York and Troy. ?Bound out? when but a boy, he was compelled to work without remuneration until he had attained his majority, but from such an unpromising beginning in life we soon find him an indispensable employe of a rich navigation company on a good salary, and, later, the proprietor of a prosperous business in the city of New York. His inclinations were toward farm life, however, and he soon quit the city and purchased a farm in the neighborhood where he had been born and raised. A pleasing part of his history is that the old people to whom he had been ?bound? spent their last days with him, for they were much attached to him, as was he to them. He was married twice. The first wife bore him one son, and the second, seven sons and four daughters. Judge Ryan was born of the second wife, whose maiden name was Barbara McKeachie, in Hebron, N. Y., on March 15, 1840. His parents moved to Iowa in 1857, and located on a farm in Jasper county. In early life they united with the Presbyterian church, in which faith they lived and died. The judge's early education was obtained in the district school. Like most country boys he was compelled to assist in the labors of the farm during the summer, and obtained his schooling during the winter months. During 1857, the farm, together with the work incident to ?settling,? required the united efforts of the family, and not much time was allowed for study, but the following year he was placed in the Wettenburgh Manual Labor college, of Jasper county, an institution which long ago passed out of existence. In 1859 he entered as a freshman in Central University of Iowa, where he continued his studies till the war broke out, when he enlisted. At the close of the war he returned and graduated in 1866. He then entered the Iowa Law school, from which he also graduated with degree, and immediately entered upon the practice of his chosen profession, and was exactly twenty years so engaged when he was elected judge of the Sixth judicial district of Iowa. Mr. Ryan was married on July 23, 1869, to Miss H. M. Hurd, of Hebron, N. Y. They had been schoolmates together before he left for the west. To them were born three children, all of whom were educated at the Agricultural college at Ames, and the Iowa State university. The two sons, John B. and William L., graduated from the law department of the last named institution, with the class of '96, and on July 1st of that year formed a co-partnership with Judge Wm. Phillips, and entered on the practice of law at Des Moines, under the firm name of Phillips, Ryan & Ryan. The judge himself is now a member of the firm under the same firm name. On June 30, 1896, the only daughter, Edith B., was united in marriage to Prof. E. E. Faville, a former student of the Agricultural college at Ames, but now located in Nova Scotia, where he has charge of the agricultural department of a college. Judge Ryan has a brilliant war record. He enlisted at Knoxville, Iowa, in a company then being raised, which became Company E of the Eighth regiment, Iowa infantry. On organization of the regiment he was promoted to first lieutenant, and a further [p.526] promotion was declined at the request of the men of his company that he remain with them. He served with his command in every engagement until 1865. At Shiloh his regiment held a conspicuous place in the ?Hornets' Nest? until late in the day, when they were taken prisoners. He was confined in the prisons of Montgomery and Macon and was given his share of the hospitalities accorded to northern soldiers by the management of Libby prison. But at last an exchange was effected and the regiment was again reorganized, and soon thereafter was sent to take part in the siege of Vicksburg. He served with his regiment in the capacity of captain, having received promotion, until September, 1864, when, by special order, he was assigned to the command of the Second regiment of enrolled militia of Tennessee, in which he took rank as colonel. He served as colonel of this regiment until May 15, 1865, when, having been mustered out at Memphis, Tenn., he returned to his home in Jasper county. In the fall of that year he was elected a member of the Eleventh General Assembly, and represented his county in that body.