JANESVILLE — Former Wisconsin Gov. Lee Dreyfus, in an effort to count the number of state employees, suggested marching them into Camp Randall Stadium for a head count.
So it is with the Ryan family of Janesville.
“We decided to get together in Jefferson Park to see how many of us there were,” said Tobin Ryan, now referred to as the older brother of Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. “We ended up with something like 65 of us. In a four square block area, I think we have 45.”
And that’s just one branch of the family that originated in Ireland.
“It goes back five generations to the potato famine,” Tobin said while chatting with reporters, his son Mac and sister-in-law Dana. “James Ryan came over and settled in Rock County.”
The Ryans probably hail from Tipperary in County South Tipperary, Tobin said, but there’s a possibility some came from County Kilkenny. What is known is that James came to the United States in 1851, six years after the start of the Great Potato Famine.
The Ryan clan started what now is Ryan Inc. in the mid 1880s. The Ryan family tree branches to James’ son Patrick, who had six sons including Stan, whose son Paul was the vice presidential candidate’s father. Patrick, like his son, was not involved in the Ryan excavating business.
“My grandfather, Stan, was appointed by President Calvin Coolidge as a federal prosecutor for Wisconsin in the 1920s,” Tobin said. “Our father was an attorney.”
Today, it’s a good bet all Ryans in the Janesville area are related.
“Concrete (Bill) Ryan, his son Terry Ryan of the Minnesota Twins and all the rest are somehow related,” Tobin said.