Solano County

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In any review of the progress of events in Solano county and particularly in that section of the county comprised within the interesting Benicia settlement, the name of John H. Ryan surely should be included, for he was one of the first permanent settlers here and proved himself an important factor during the development of this section of California, for many years having been one of the best known persons here.

Mr. Ryan was a native of Ireland, and he came to California in 1852, coming around the Horn and up the coast to the port of San Francisco, which was then but little more than a sand hill. He was a skilled blacksmith, and after arriving here he became employed in the blacksmith shop on the Benicia docks of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, later being made foreman of the blacksmith shop at the Benicia government arsenal, a position of responsibility he long maintained. On December 28, 1854, something more than two years after his arrival in this state, he married Miss Mary Fitzsimmons, also a native of Ireland, who had come here by way of the Isthmus, and they established their home in Benicia, where they spent the remainder of their lives, his death occurring in 1899 and hers in 1876. Of the children born to this pioneer couple but one now survives, Mrs. Mary Massle, widow of the late Richard Massle, who is now living at her home on First street in Benicia, and who has the distinction of being one of the oldest native born residents of that city.

Mary Ryan was born October 30, 1856, in Benicia, and was there reared. In 1885 she married Richard Massle, a native of the Saxon city of Wittenberg in Germany and who had not long before that time become a resident of Benicia, prior to his location here having been engaged in the retail meat business at Martinez. Upon taking up his residence in Benicia Richard Massle became engaged in the brewery business in partnership with Gus Gnauck, the pioneer brewer. He also operated a brick yard in that city, and the bricks entering into the construction of the old Masonic temple there were made by him. Richard Massle died in 1903, he then being fifty-two years of age. Mrs. Massle has an adopted daughter, Miss Esther Stanley Massle, and she also has a niece, Mrs. Frank Wassmann.

History of Solano County, California By Marguerite Hunt and Napa County, California By Harry Lawrence Gunn. From Their Earliest Settlement To The Present Time. Chicago. S.J. Clarke Pub. Co. 1926. 883 pages.

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This page was last updated 27 Oct 2007

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