Jessie G. Ryon was great businessman

Liberty Lore By Margie Love



POSTED: February 25, 2014 9:00 p.m.




In 1917, an article appeared in the “Standard History of Georgia and Georgians, Vol. VI” by Lucian Lamar Knight, about prominent Liberty County businessman Jesse Gordon Ryon.


Many Ryon-family descendants remain in the county today.


Here is an excerpt from that article:


“A recent addition to the business element of Hinesville, Jesse G. Ryon brought to this community at the time of his arrival in 1915, at the age of 34, a wealth of experience in commercial and mercantile matters, gained during his 15 years of activity at his former field of endeavor, the Village of Taylors Creek. While he is relatively a newcomer, he has already impressed his ability upon his associates in business circles, and has established himself likewise in the confidence of the general public.


“Mr. Ryon was born at Taylors Creek, Liberty County, Georgia, Aug. 12, 1881, and is the son of John G. and Eliza Jane Hendry Ryon. His father was born in Camden County and, as a young man, moved to Liberty County, establishing himself in business as a blacksmith at Taylors Creek, where he subsequently entered mercantile lines and became a substantial and well-known merchant.


“In addition to his activities in business affairs, he carried on general farming, all of his ventures being prosecuted with the greatest energy and resulting in a satisfying measure of success. He died in 1895, when his community lost a capable and public spirited citizen.


“At the outbreak of the Civil War, Mr. Ryon enlisted in a voluntary regiment of infantry and served under the flag of the Confederacy until captured shortly before the close of the war. He was confined in a federal prison for some time, but eventually his exchange was affected. He married Miss Janie Hendry, who was born at Taylors Creek, daughter of Abram Hendry, and they became the parents of 13 children, of whom eight survive: Mrs. J.J. Martin, Mrs. J. M. Caswell, Miss Fannie Ryon, Mrs. G. R. Lee, Jesse Gordon Ryon, C. A. Ryon, Mrs. D. J. Martin and Mrs. G. P. Reviere.


“Jesse was 8 years old when he was sent to public school at Taylors Creek, which he attended for seven years, and then entered the mercantile business at Taylors Creek.


“Mr. Ryon had 15 years of mercantile experience at that time and built up an excellent business, establishing himself firmly as an energetic and helpful citizen.


“In the meantime, his brother, the late J.R. Ryon, had come to Hinesville and founded a mercantile establishment. He was one of the most-popular and best-known businessmen of the county seat — a charitable, philanthropic and benevolent citizen — and for 23 years treasurer of Liberty County.


“When he died in January 1915, Hinesville lost a man who, in every way, had helped build up the community, fostered its educational and religious movements and contributed generously to civic enterprises. He had been successful in a material way, leaving an estate valued at $50,000.


“When his brother died, Jesse G. Ryon changed the scene of his activities from Taylors Creek to Hinesville, and here has continued in the enjoyment of the success, which characterized his efforts in the former community.


“He has a large and well-stocked establishment and caters to the best and most representative trade. Personally, he is popular, while in commercial circles his standing is an enviable one. In attending to managing his business, he superintends the operations on his 142-acre farm in Liberty County, a valuable tract that is well-cultivated with the most-modern improvements. A Democrat in politics, he is more of a businessman than a politician, but wields a great influence on his party at Hinesville. His public service has included four years as a member of the school board.


“With his family, he belongs to the Methodist Church, of which he is steward.


“On Feb. 9, 1908, Mr. Ryon married Miss Rosalyn Girardeau Taylor, daughter of John Taylor, at Jones Creek in Liberty County (now Long), and to their union have been born four daughters: Helen, Olive, Pauline and Miriam.”


Jesse Gordon Ryon died at the age of 67 on Sept. 13, 1948. Rosalyn died at the age of 71 on Oct. 19, 1951. Both are buried in the Hinesville Cemetery.


I found a few more interesting remarks about Jesse in “Sweet Land of Liberty” by Robert Groover.


“Young people went often to the drug store operated by J. G. Ryon and T. W. Welborn in Hinesville to buy a soft drink when they had 5 cents, but more often just to loaf. They could stay as long as they liked without having to buy anything. Jesse was a kindly man who liked having young people around him. He installed a radio on a high shelf in the drug store, which played all day. The young people heard the latest recordings from radio station WTOC in Savannah for the first time on the drug-store radio.


“On an election day, a crowd would gather around the Liberty County Courthouse and watch the votes be counted. A victorious candidate would sometimes buy Coca-Colas at 5 cents each for everybody in ‘Uncle Jesse’ Ryon’s drug store on courthouse square. Sarah Hines worked at the soda fountain and served drinks as long as the crowds and the victor’s money held out. Jesse was on the pageant committee in 1937 for Hinesville’s 100th birthday.


“A notice appeared on the front page of the Liberty County Herald in 1938, which said: ‘Will the person who borrowed my copy of ‘Gone with the Wind’ please return it to Miss Olive Ryon.’


“Olive was the daughter of Jesse and Rosalyn and was a very talented pianist and a teacher at Bradwell institute.”


The Ryon family has made many contributions to the citizens of Liberty County.