Thomas Ryan (1829 – 1891)

“One of the major streets in the Soo is Ryan Avenue. This avenue runs north and south, from Sheridan Drive on the north to 8th Street (i.e. in 1968) on the south. Also known as the truck route for Business Interstate 75, this route was named after Thomas Ryan, an early land developer. He was born in the county of Tipperary, Ireland, on December 21, 1829. He made his way to Sault Ste. Marie 25 years later, arriving in 1854. He was elected to public office several times.

A plat for Ryan Avenue was made in 1887 and the roadway was formally dedicated on May 7, 1900.

Today, this artery serves as the eastern boundary for the campus of Lake Superior State University.”

Source: “On the Streets Where We Live

A history of the streets and avenues of Sault Ste. Marie – A Tercentenary and Michigan Week project of the seventh grade students of Sault Junior High School – 1968.



Thomas Ryan pix
Thomas Ryan

Hon. Thomas Ryan was one of the best-known men in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and one who figures as a pioneer of Sault Ste. Marie. His birth occurred in county of Tipperary, Ireland, on December 21, 1829. He emigrated to the United States in 1852, and visited various sections of the Union before finally locating at Sault Ste. Marie. He stopped for brief period in Buffalo, St. Louis and Chicago, reaching the “Soo” in the month of July, 1854.

The marriage of Thomas Ryan and Elizabeth A. Warrington was celebrated in 1856 in Sault Ste. Marie. They became the parents of three children, namely James R., Mary E., and Maggie M.

Ryan was a blacksmith by trade and in this line of work was given employment by the contractors on the Government canal. Later on, he was the clerk in the St. Mary’s Hotel and became responsible for the entire management. On leaving the hotel he engaged in general merchandising, in which line of enterprise he continued successfully until 1880. He was compelled to retire by reason of rheumatic disorders that rendered it impossible for him to give the necessary dedication to the details of the business. He thereafter gave his attention principally to his real-estate interests, having acquired many thousand dollars’ worth of property in the Upper Peninsula. He disposed of much of this prior to 1890, realizing a large amount of revenue by reason of the rise in valuations. He still owned lots, subdivisions and suburban property on which a fair-sized city could be built. The Ryan Subdivision Addition is bordered by West Easterday Avenue, Ryan Avenue, West 4th Street, and Meridian Avenue. The Maple Ridge Cemetery on Ashmun hill was originally the property of Mr. Thomas Ryan and donated to the City for burial plots. There is another land tract which is referred to Ryan 1st Addition bordered by 20th Avenue, 16th Street West, 24th Avenue, and 18th Street West. This information was obtained from the 1888 map of Sault Ste. Marie, drawn by W.C. Sauer, Civil Engineer.

Thomas Ryan was an active worker in politics in Chippewa County ever since the time when he was able to cast his first vote. He was a stalwart Democrat, and his leadership was most remarkable and successful. He filled almost, if not quite every office in the county, having served as Sheriff, County Clerk, Register of Deeds and Supervisor. On one occasion, as a practical joke, he was elected Prosecuting Attorney of the county, but for this office he never qualified. He served as Justice of the Peace for many years, was a member of the City Council several terms, and as School Director aided materially in giving the county an effective school system and in maintaining the high standard of the same. He was Postmaster of Sault Ste. Marie during President Cleveland’s first administration.

Mrs. Elizabeth Ryan died in 1890, shortly after her return from Ireland, from a complication of disorders which were the sequel of a severe attack of “la grippe.” As for Thomas Ryan, he passed away in 1891 at the age of 62, and is buried in the Ryan Plot at Riverside Cemetery.

Ryan-AveRyan Avenue runs on a north and south axis, starting at Sheridan Drive and ending at West 12th Avenue. It is 3,930 feet in length. This information was provided by the City of Sault Ste. Marie Engineering Department. Besides the many residences and the campus of Lake Superior State University bordering the stretch of road, the avenue is noted for its 1894 water tower at the intersection of Easterday Avenue, and Washington Elementary School located at 1200 Ryan Street.

SOURCE: “Northern Peninsula of Michigan 1895