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St. Croix County Biographies and Historical Sketches


St. Croix County Townships Map | St. Croix County (1909) | Early History of St. Croix County | Villages, Townships & Municipalities | St. Joseph, Troy & Warren Townships | Stanton & Star Prairie Townships | Rush River, Somerset & Springfield Townships | Richmond Township, City of New Richmond | Kinnickinnic & Pleasant Valley Townships | Hudson Township & City of Hudson | Forest, Glenwood & Hammond Townships | Eau Galle, Emerald and Erin Townships | Baldwin, Cady & Cylon Townships
Rehder, Riley, Ross, Russell, Ryan


E. B. Rehder came to this country at the age of five years. He is a native of Germany, where he was born in Holstein in 1861, son of John and Dora (Dordum) Rehder. The former was born in 1821 and died in 1893. The latter was born in 1824 and died in 1906, both deaths having occurred on the farm in Somerset. E. B. Rehder has been a farmer for the greater part of his life. He owns 160 acres of land in Somerset, twenty acres of which are heavily timbered. He has made all the improvements himself and has a fine farm, upon which he carries on a general farming business, making a specialty of breeding short horn cattle. For a number of years he has made a success of handling and selling farm implements and machinery of all kinds. A Republican in politics he has served with credit, as chairman of the supervisors of the town of Somerset for several years. He is a member of the Sons of Herman. In 1889, Mr. Rehder married Martha Wiggie, who died three years later. In 1896 he was married to Mary Schultz. The four children, Carl, Elsie, Erna and Ernest, live at home. With Christ Schafer, Mr. Rehder established the first cooperative creamery in this county. Reference: Taken from "History of the St. Croix Valley", published in 1909


T. E. Riley first saw the light of in New York State, March 17, 1852, a son of Patrick and Mary (Monahan) Riley, both born in County Mayo, Ireland. The parents came from the old country to Rochester, N.Y., in 1846, remaining seven years. From 1853 to 1856 they were located in Janesville, Wis., afterward coming to Erin Prairie, Wis. They took up 240 acres of government land, breaking the land, making all improvements and erecting a house and other buildings. The principal industry of the father was wheat raising, which he followed until his death, June 30, 1890. The mother died on the old homestead in 1883. In the family were four sons, of whom T.E. Riley is one. John C. is at Seattle, Wash.; Philip is a prominent farmer of schools of Erin. He then took a course in the St. Croix Collegiate and Military Academy at Hudson, receiving a fine military and academic education. Upon graduation he went back to Erin and taught school for four years, after which he bought 400 acres of land, situated in Erin. This land he broke, and improvements that he has continued to conduct have made the farm one of the finest in the valley. The house is a commodious and handsome structure, and the barn is a large building, erected in 1888 at a cost exceeding $2,000.00. It is generally conceded to be one of the best farm barns in the town of Erin. Mr. Riley does a general mixed farming. Mr. Riley was married April 16, 1877, to Kate Clennan, a daughter of David and Mary (Martin) Clennan, prominent farmers of Erin, both now deceased. Nine children have blessed this union: William W. died of typhoid fever while a student in the medical department of the University of Minnesota, March 24, 1901; Mary married A. Barrett, a farmer of Richmond, Wis.; Nellie F. was graduated from the New Richmond High school and the Globe Business College of St. Paul, being now employed as a stenographer for the Armour Packing Company, of St. Paul; John and Francis are at home on the farm; Katherine was graduated from the New Richmond High school and is now a teacher; Sadie is also a graduate of the same school, and Jay and Ervin are in the New Richmond High school. For thirty years Mr. Riley has been treasurer of School District No. 5, of Erin Township. He has also served as chairman of the town board for two terms. He has been successful in all his doings, and in being a hard working, upright gentleman, is a good example for the younger generation. The family worship is that of the Catholic Church. Mr. Riley votes the Democratic ticket.

(History of the St. Croix Valley, published 1909)


Michael Ross is one of the side supervisors of Emerald, which position he has held for the past five years. His administration has been accorded by hearty approval and support of his fellow citizens, and he is regarded as one of the valuable members of the town board. He was born in Hudson, this state, July 1856. His parents were Thomas and Bridget Ross, natives of Ireland, who came to this country in the early fifties and settled at Hudson, afterward moving to Emerald township, where they first bought 160 acres, adding to this from time to time until they possessed 560 acres. The father continued to buy and sell land, carrying on general farming until his death, in 1896, at which time he owned 160 acres, most of which he had broken and improved. His wife died in 1888 at the old homestead. Michael received a common school education, and worked on the farm with his father. After the latters death he bought eighty acres of land, which he improved. He erected a house and has since continued to carry on diversified farming. He is a good farmer and hard worker, and has been uniformly successful in his operations. Mr. Ross was married, February 2, 1886, to Mary Neary, daughter of James and Bridget (Hopkins) Neary, natives of Ireland, later well known farmers of Erin Prairie. Mrs. Ross died August 10, 1898, leaving a large family of children to mourn her loss. They are: John, of Seattle, Wash.; Bridget, wife of Thomas Welsh, of the same city; Nellie, a teacher at Superior, Wis.; Kate, married to Ray Gibson, a farmer of Erin township; James, a wholesale clerk at Duluth, Minn.; Annie, Charles and Irene, who are at home, and Pearl, a student in the high school at Superior. Mr. Ross is a Democrat in politics and for six years has been treasurer of school district No. 5, of Emerald. He is a believer in education and has given his children the advantages of considerable schooling. (taken from "History of the St. Croix Valley", published in 1909)


Alexander Russell was born July 6, 1838, son of Henry and Sally Russell. Henry, the father, was born in Vermont, Ludlow County. For many years he was a shoemaker. In 1852 he came to Richmond Township and purchased 1,100 acres, where the city of New Richmond now stands. Together with his sons he broke and improved much of this land, and then offered building lots free to anyone who would locate within what are now the city limits of New Richmond. This offer was gladly taken by hundreds of persons, and a thriving little city was soon the result. Henry Russell followed the various occupations of farming, blacksmithing, wagonmaking, stone quarrying and lime burning and died in 1878, after having served on both the town and the school boards many years. His wife lived until 1898, and died at the age of ninety-six years. Alexander Russell received a common school education. He farmed and worked with his father and brothers until 1877, when he bought 240 acres in Richmond Township, carrying on a general line of farming. He was a breeder of Shorthorn, Durham and Jersey cattle. In 1887 he sold this farm to his brother, who continued farming on it until his death. The farm is now conducted by his widow.

Mr. Russell was married September 18, 1866, to Susan, daughter of William and Betsy Egbert, of Hammond, Wis. William was a Methodist Episcopal clergyman. Both are now deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Russell had one girl, born in New Richmond, and died in infancy. Since twelve years of age Mr. Russell has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He is a staunch Prohibitionist.

The Russell family consisted of the father and mother, and eight brothers and sisters, of whom Alexander Russell is one. They were, in the order of their birth: Charles, killed in the woods in the state of Illinois; Dianna, married to R. Atwood, a prominent farmer of Illinois; Lyda, who died in Illinois at the age of twenty; Marcelle, married to Joseph Johnson, a lumberman on the Black river; Salome, who died in the Union army of typhoid fever at the siege of Vicksburg; Alexander, Jefferson, who died at home at the age of twenty, and Austin, who died in infancy. Reference: Taken from "History of the St. Croix Valley", published in 1909

James Russell was born in the town of Kenton, Delaware, March 17, 1844. At the age of seven years he came west to Wisconsin with an uncle, where he made his home until the spring of 1861 (or 1862) when he enlisted with Company F, 30th Wisconsin Infantry, serving three years and eight months, and receiving an honorable discharge at the close of the war. After the war he followed various occupations, for a time having worked a year and a half on the construction of the Milwaukee Railroad between Hastings and Minnieska, Minn. Later he followed farming.
He was married to Miss Eva Wilhelm in 1878. To this union seven children were born, Robert L. and James R. of Plainview, Frank, Joseph R. and Louis of River Falls, Wis., Miss Pearl of Valley City, N.D., and Mrs. P.L. Larsen of Velva, N.C. On November 24, 19-2, his wife died, but he kept up his home with the help of the older children until the fall of 1907, when he entered the National Soldiers Home at Milwaukee and making his home there for a number of years. The past few years have been spent with his son R.L. Russell, where he died April 25th, 1922, aged 76 years, 1 month and 8 days.

He took great happiness and comfort in his last years with his grandchildren, Eva, Inez and Marian Russell, by whom he will be greatly missed. He leaves to mourn his loss, his seven children and eight grand children, Robt. L., James and Pearl were with him in his illness, and Frank and Joseph had visited him but a week before the end. The end came peacefully at four o'clock Tuesday morning, being due to pneumonia.

Funeral services were held from the late home Tuesday afternoon at two o'clock, Rev. Wm. Woolley of the Methodist church officiating and the remains taken to River Falls, Wis., where they were laid to rest beside the departed wife in Greenwood cemetery.

(Note: His granddaughter, Inez, says he was born in 1847 and that he lied about his birthdate to be able to join the Army as a drummer boy.  If that is the case, he paid dearly for his effort, losing several fingers to frostbite while serving in Dakota.)

Submitted by:  Barbara Tim


Thomas Ryan is a native of Greenfield, near Milwaukee, Wis., born in the month of August 1856, son of Thomas and Eliza (Kelley) Ryan. The parents came to this section in June 1867, purchased land and settled in section 23, Stanton township, St. Croix county, Wisconsin. The father was a farmer all his life, passing away in 1905. The mother died in 1892. They had eight children: Peter is a farmer in Stanton township; Jeremiah is a traveling salesman, with a residence in Saginaw, Mich.; Thomas is the third of the family; Mary married Patrick Callahan, a retired farmer of New Richmond, Wis.; Joseph is a farmer of Stanton township; Johanna and Elizabeth are dead, and D. F., married to Ellen V. O'Brien, is in the circulating department of the public library at Milwaukee. Thomas worked with his father on the farm in his younger days and received a good common school education. He now owns a large farm, 440 acres, in Stanton Township, all under the plow. Mr. Ryan himself broke most of the land and made nearly all the improvements. The farm is one of the best in the township and is well kept in every particular. Mr. Ryan was married in 1879 to Mary Gleason, Daughter of John and Ann (O'Neil) Gleason. By this union there are ten children: Jeremiah, Ann, Lizzie, Thomas, John, Andy, Peter, Mamie, Loretta and Arthur. Mr. Ryan is a Democrat and has served as assessor of the town. His opinions are held in high regard by his friends and he is one of the representative farmers of the county. Reference: Taken from "History of the St. Croix Valley", published in 1909

Peter Ryan was born in Westchester County, New York, November 12, 1852, a son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Kelley) Ryan. The father was born in Tipperary county and the mother in Killdare county, Ireland. Upon coming to America they located in Westchester County, New York, and worked on a farm for seven years. Then they came westward and settled in Milwaukee county, Wisconsin, and farmed it there for eleven years. In 1867 they came to Stanton, St. Croix County, Wis., and purchased 160 acres. The father carried on a general farming until 1903, when he sold the farm and bought a house in New Richmond, Wis. The mother died on the old homestead in Stanton that year. The father lived in New Richmond until his death, in 1905. Peter Ryan received a common school education in the public schools and farmed with his father until twenty-seven years of age. In 1878 Mr. Ryan bought 160 acres of timberland in Stanton Township, Wisconsin. He stumped, grubbed and broke all this land and built a home. In 1899 the great cyclone destroyed nearly all the buildings. Since then Mr. Ryan has rebuilt and improved the buildings and continued to improve the farm. At first the chief crop was wheat, but later Mr. Ryan started a general diversified farming. Mr. Ryan was married, November 26, 1880, to Mary A., daughter of William and Margaret (O'Neil) Williams, well known farmers of New Richmond Township, St. Croix County, Wisconsin. By this union there are four children, all of whom are graduates of the New Richmond High School. Thomas and William are at home. Joseph is a clerk in a store in New Richmond. Margaret is also at home. Mr. Ryan has served as side supervisor, assessor and town treasurer of the town of Stanton for several terms with great credit. He is a democrat in politics, attends the Catholic Church and belongs to the Catholic Knights of Wisconsin. Mr. and Mrs. Ryan both come of large families. Mrs. Ryan had ten brothers and sisters: Patrick, William, Richard, Jeremiah, John, Thomas, Michael, Bridget, Johannah and Margaret. Mr. Ryan had eight brothers and sisters: Jeremiah married Dorcas Brown; Thomas married Mary A. Gleason; Joseph married Johannah Ryan; John is dead; Daniel married Nellie O'Brien; May married Patrick Callahan; Johannah married Henry Kennedy, and Elizabeth married William Hennessey. Reference: Taken from "History of the St. Croix Valley", published in 1909

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