Wednesday’s Child: The Ryan Children

DSCF8459The loss of a child must have been devastating to our ancestors.

I can only imagine the anguish of parents who lost several children.

Like James and Bridget, the parents of Margaret, Michael and Mary Ryan.

State registration of births in Minnesota began in 1900, but the rules weren’t really followed statewide until after 1915.

Death records have only been registered by the state since 1908 [1].

Since Margaret, Michael and Mary Ryan were born and died prior to 1900, these vital records couldn’t be used to learn more about them.

But the reverse side of their headstone in St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Minneapolis had some information that was helpful. 2016 01-06 Ryan children 02

Timothy I. and Mary I. Ryan lived in Portland Oregon when the 1930 census was taken. Both were born in Minnesota to Irish immigrant parents. [2]

Column 15 offered the best clue on this census; the age at first marriage.

Mary was 58 in 1930. She married Timothy at age 23 – sometime around 1895.

Here’s the couple in the MOMS [3] database. Mary’s maiden name was Rourk.

2016 01-06 Ryan children 01

The couple and three of their children lived in Minneapolis in 1920:

1920 US Census MN Ryan

But none of the other names from the headstone seem to be listed.

The 1910 census didn’t shed any light. Nor did the 1905 Minnesota state census.

The 1900 census helped verify I had the right Timothy and Mary. The years of birth on the census and the headstone match.

But where are James and Bridget?

1900 US Census MN Ryan

It was the 1880 census that finally brought me all the way around the headstone, touching each of the names that appear.

1880 US Census MN Ryan

So James and Bridget were Timothy Ryan’s parents. They were James’ [Jas. 1861-1888] parents too.

2016 01-06 Ryan children 03

And of course they were the parents of Margaret, Michael and Mary Ryan.



[2]  Year: 1930; Census Place: Portland, Multnomah, Oregon; Roll: 1951; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 0168; Image: 4.0; FHL microfilm: 2341685; 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2002. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, 2,667 rolls.

[3] Minnesota Official Marriage System:

4 thoughts on “Wednesday’s Child: The Ryan Children

    • Hi Sheryl,

      Thank you for sharing your sympathetic thoughts about the Ryans. Standing by the headstone, it made my heart heavy too. I can’t even imagine how the parents survived such loss.



  1. Laura,

    What a wonderful bit of sleuthing. (Love all the pictures, too–I’m a cemetery fan as well.) I’ll take a piece of this in my quest for my rather different search. My Harrison grandfather and his three brothers all married women named Johnson. I remember stories that two were sisters. I’m trying to track which two it could have been. So far I can’t find any census prior to the marriage of any, except my grandmother, who I know couldn’t have been related to the other three. ‘Tis a puzzle. Since three were married in MN, maybe MOMS can help. I know the birth years of all of them. If I can find a census with two of them together as children, I think that will be pretty good evidence that the stories were true. What do you think?



    • Hi Doris,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post! Three Harrison and Johnson combinations, oh my! Yes, MOMS [] could certainly help. I’ve found it works best when I provide more (rather than less) information. And because the surnames you mentioned are so common in Minnesota, more details will come in very handy.

      Remember too that Minnesota took a number of state censuses which help narrow that 10 year gap between US censuses.

      Good luck with your search!



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