From the Biographical Record of the Counties of Rock, Green, Grant, Iowa and Lafayette, Wisconsin, publ. 1901- page 629-630
GEORGE WASHINGTON RYLAND, ex-lieutenant-governor of the State of Wisconsin, and retired banker of Lancaster, Grant county, was born Dec. 19, 1827, near Selbysport, Garret Co., Md., a son of Sylvester RYLAND.
Our subject's father was born in 1796 on a farm, on which place he died at the age of seventy-eight years. His ancestor, Paul RYLAND, came from England to America in 1750, when twenty years old, settled in Berks county, Penn., was there married, and became the father of three sons, John, Andrew and James, the eldest of whom, with the father, served in the Continental army with Washington. John settled in Maryland after peace was declared, and from him is descended the gentleman whose name opens this biographical sketch; Andrew settled in Kentucky, and a number of his descendants went to Missouri, where they attained prominence - one as a judge of the Supreme Court of the State, and others as judges of lesser courts; James died young. The mother of George W. RYLAND bore the maiden name of Hannah COLLIER, was born in Somerset county, Penn., in 1803, and died at the age of sixty-two years. Her father, who was born in 1766, was of English and Dutch parentage. Her mother was born in 1764, and was of German extraction.
George W. RYLAND had but limited opportunities for an education in early youth, and after he left home, at the age of twenty-one years, he attended a graded school five months, working mornings, noons and evenings for his board. Subsequently he worked on a farm at $12 per month, taught a district school in the winter season, and in April, 1853, settled permanently in Lancaster. His first employment here was in the hay field for Gov. Dewey. The same season he engaged as clerk in the store of John ALCORN, where he was employed for fourteen months. In the fall of 1854 the mercantile firm of G. W. RYLAND & Co., of which Simon E. and John P. LEWIS were members, was organized. The ALCORN store was at the present Ivey & Webb stand. The new firm was in the building across the alley, the first one to burn in the big fire of 1888. The firm continued in business until May, 1860, when it was dissolved. In 1860 a low two story building, with gables to the north and south, stood on the ground now occupied by the Baxter block. George COX kept a grocery store there. Mr. RYLAND bought out his business, and in September of that year J. C. HOLLOWAY became associated with him, the firm establishing a new general merchandise business, including dry goods. The old building was pulled down, and they built the Milwaukee brick block which now stands there, and which was the first three story house erected in Lancaster.
Here the firm began in the fall of 1860, to buy and sell exchange, for this purpose keeping an account with a New York house. They purchased drafts on New York and on London. This business in exchange was conducted by the firm until 1865, in which year they put up a sign across the west end of the building inscribed. "RYLAND & HOLLOWAY, Bankers." A room in the southwest corner of the building, with glass partitions, was set off from the store as the banking apartment. This was continued in connection with their mercantile business until the year 1869, when the latter branch was sold to Anton SCHMITT, and RYLAND & HOLLOWAY continued exclusively in the banking business until 1874. For this purpose they built and removed into the two story block adjoining, east of the original block. In this there was a secure vault, the first in the place constructed for banking purposes. In 1874 Mr. RYLAND bought out Mr. HOLLOWAY and became sole owner of the bank, continuing alone in the business until Oct. 1, 1880. At this date Richard MEYER, who had been the bank bookkeeper for a number of years, and his son, Richard MEYER, Jr., became partners, and the firm constituted of these three was organized under the name of "G. W. RYLAND & Co." The existence of this firm lasted six and a half years. It was dissolved May 1, 1887, when Mr. RYLAND retired, disposing of his interest to his partners.
At this time Mr. RYLAND took a rest. He was out of business until the 1st of October, 1888, when, with others, he established the "State Bank of Grant County." Its officers were John SCHREINER, president; G. W. RYLAND, vice-president; Joseph BOCK, cashier. The firm, with the same officers, continued in business for ten and a half years. Mr. RYLAND resigned and withdrew April 1, 1899. This date marks the end of a business career running from 1853 to 1899, all but a few years in the banking business, and with no cessation except the short period above mentioned before the opening of the State Bank.
In politics Mr. RYLAND is a Republican, was chairman of the town of Lancaster for twenty years, and for seventeen years, chairman of the county board. He was for two terms State Senator from Grant county, and for two terms was lieutenant governor. He was postmaster at Lancaster when Pierce was President, and again when Lincoln was President. In 1872 he was a delegate from his district to the National Republican Convention at Philadelphia that renominated Grant.
This biography generously submitted by Carol Holmbeck