Gila County Sheriff Jeremiah “Jerry” Ryan To Be Honored


Janice Ryan Bryson, the great-niece of Sheriff Ryan, has announced that a Dedication of a memorial to Sheriff Ryan will be made on Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. The ceremony will be held at the Old Globe Cemetery where a monument in his honor will be installed. The schedule of events have yet to be disclosed, but Father Albert Medrana will be presenting during the ceremony to bless the monument and ground where Sheriff Ryan was presumably laid to rest on June 2, 1890. Globe Mayor Al Gameros and a representative of the Gila County Sheriff’s Office will also be delivering comments about Sheriff Ryan and his heroism. Sheriff Ryan’s family  will have a reception with a few invitees at the Gila County Historical Museum at 1330 N. Broad St. in Globe after the conclusion of the dedication.

Jeremiah Ryan, affectionately known as Jerry Ryan, was born in Ireland in the 1850s. Upon immigrating to America, he made his way across the country and settled in Globe, Arizona.

In 1888 he became a United States citizen and was nominated as candidate for Globe Constable that same year as a Democrat. He was defeated by J. C. Clark at a margin of 3 votes. Sheriff Glenn Reynolds won the sheriff’s race and appointed Jerry as Undersheriff on Jan. 5, 1889. He performed the required duties of a deputy as well as being second in command. He was also appointed by the Gila County Board of Supervisors as the Globe Road District overseer.

On Nov. 2, 1889, Sheriff Reynolds and Deputy William Holmes were murdered by prisoners in route to the Yuma Territorial Prison as they were passing over the Kelvin Grade. The muleskinner, Eugene Middleton, survived the tragedy and led the posse to recapture the mostly Apache prisoners. The posse was unsuccessful locating any of the escapees, but did return the bodies of the sheriff and deputy to Globe. It was disclosed that the number of shackles were insufficient to transport the number of sentenced criminals to Yuma. Subsequently, Ryan was appointed sheriff on Nov. 16, 1889. He offered a reward for the capture of the offenders.

On Dec. 27, 1889, Sheriff Ryan by order of the court executed Nah-deiz-az, an Apache Indian, in the first legal hanging in Gila County. Previously, two other Apaches were hung in Florence by Pinal Sheriff Jere Fryer. Sheriff Ryan resumed the normal tasks performed as sheriff and county assessor and tax collector, and also engaged in the annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

On June 1, 1890, the community gathered for a picnic at Pascoe Pond about 12 miles north of Globe. It was a pleasant day that would reveal tragedy. Miss Mary Frush and an escort, A. B. Simmons, set out on the pond in a rowboat. Near the west end of the bank near a dead tree covered with moss, the boat moored. From the east side of the pond approximately forty feet away people called out to Simmons to return, but he ignored the requests. When he finally replied, the moss entangled one oar and the boat capsized as he leaned too far trying to extricate it from the moss. Both occupants were tossed into the water struggling to grasp the boat with slimy moss. Miss Frush was able to grab hold of the boat near the stern because she was a good swimmer. Simmons secured a hold on the bow with both arms. Sheriff Ryan and Willie Middleton swam to rescue the two teens. In an effort to stay above water, Simmons kept turning the boat. Mary lost her hold on the boat, possibly as a result, and began struggling to stay afloat. Ryan managed to reach her, but the struggle caused both to go under. Ryan tried calling for help, but disappeared with Miss Frush under water. A rope was thrown to Simmons and he was pulled from the pond. Willie Middleton could not be of service and returned to the bank because of a burn injury he sustained at the mine a few days prior.

Both the sheriff and Miss Frush were recovered from the pond about a half hour later. Frush was listed as 15 years of age according to the Silver Belt. Simmons’ account of how the boat capsized was different from the accounts of witnesses to the event. He was deemed responsible for both deaths, but not charged, though it was determined that he was in a drunken state at the time.

The funerals took place on June 2, 1890 at 1 p.m. for Miss Frush at the Methodist Episcopal Church in Globe and at 2 p.m. for Sheriff Ryan at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Conahan. The mine and community shut down to attend the funerals. The funeral was addressed by T. A. Lonergan and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge #6 solemnizing the grave. Both funeral trains met to form one cortege to the cemetery. Sheriff Ryan became the third Gila County sheriff to die while in office. Previously, Sheriffs Ed Hodgson and Glenn Reynolds gave their last full measure serving the people of Gila County. Jerry was a robust man, fearless and energetic and well respected in the community. It is unknown what happened to his initial graveyard marker, but it is presumed to have perished over the ravages of time.

The Gila County Public Safety Memorial Association will be represented at the March 13 event to honor this fallen hero. It is the mission of the Memorial Association to establish a monument in Gila County which shall enshrine the names of all those who have given their lives in service to the citizens of Gila County. The Memorial shall also establish a relief fund to aid the grieving families left behind by those who shall lay down their lives in the performance of their duties. Whether fighting fires, rescuing the distressed, or enforcing the law, our fallen heroes ought to be remembered.

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