LAKE CHARLES IS PROUD OF ITS ALAMO HERO
© By W. T. Block
(click here for W. T. Block web page)
the first ray of sunlight glimmered above the San Antonio horizon on that
fateful day of March 6, 1836, a voice shouted out: "Wake up, Ike! The
Mexicans are coming over the North Wall." Isaac Ryan was dreary-eyed for
lack of sleep; nevertheless, he grabbed his loaded musket and dropped a nearby
Mexican soldier in front of him. He was preparing to thrust a knife into
another soldier when he was stabbed in the back by a Mexican bayonet, and Ike
fell dead not far from the body of Colonel Travis. By 8 o'clock that morning,
only an eerie silence permeated the atmosphere above 188 Texian (sic) bodies.
Ryan was horn on March 1, 1805 at Perry's Ferry, Vermilion Parish, Louisiana,
the son of John Jacob Ryan, Sr., and Marie Hargrove. At age twelve, he moved
with his parents to the vicinity of Lake Charles (the lake, not the town) in
1817. By 1834, there were a host of neighbors living nearby, including his
brother-in-law, Thomas Rigmaiden, Thomas Bilbo, Charles Sallier, Jacob Ryan,
Jr.; Arsene LeBleu, and several other families, who raised cattle and cotton.
1980, a descendent, Marie Ryan, claimed that Ike Ryan had ridden "one of
his father's lumber schooners to Galveston," and in either "Dec. 1835
or Jan. 1836," was recruited by William Barret Travis at San Felipe to go
to San Antonio. This is a myth, for there was no Galveston until 1837, at which
time it was only a tent city. There is every indication that Ryan was in New
Orleans, when he enlisted at Banks Arcade on Oct. 13, 1835 in Capt. T. H.
Breece's company of the New Orleans Grays.
were two different means for Ryan to have arrived in New Orleans in the late
summer of 1835. He may either have helped Capt. Arsene LeBleu, a former Laffite
pirate, drive a herd of cattle to the crescent city, or he may have sailed
aboard a New Orleans schooner, carrying the year's Calcasieu River cotton crop.
were also two companies of the New Orleans Grays, one commanded by Capt. T. H.
Breese and the other by Capt. Robert Morris, whose company traveled by sea to
Texas. Capt. Breece's company boarded the steamer Washita and went up Red River
to Alexandria. From thence, they traveled overland to Nacogdoches, where they were
given horses, muskets and food, mostly cured hams. Ultimately, a large number
of the New Orleans Grays were either slain at the Alamo or during the Goliad
it was inevitable that much myth would attach itself to the Lake Charles hero, but
it seems most plausible that young Isaac Ryan made his living raising cattle,
or cotton, or both. The lumber industry at Lake Charles had simply not evolved
during Ryan's lifetime. The Thomas Rigmaiden diary is about the only source of
life in very early Calcasieu Parish; hence there is as much mystery about Isaac
Ryan's life in Southwest Louisiana as there is in San Antonio.
reading 8 articles about Isaac Ryan in Lake Charles American Press, it becomes
obvious that his other biographers were unaware that Ryan fought at the Battle
of San Antonio on Dec. 7-9, 1835, as well as at the Alamo. During that battle
led by Colonel Ben Milam, about 300 Texians fought successfully to evict Gen.
Perfecto de Cos' Mexican army from the town. One of the New Orleans Grays in Capt. Breece's company was killed in that
battle, two were wounded, and six from Capt. W. G. Cooke's (successor to
Morris) company were wounded.
Texas history credits Isaac
Ryan as having served in Capt. William Blazeby's company at the Battle of San
Antonio. After that battle, a small number of the "Grays" under
Lieutenant Robert White reorganized in the Alamo as the "Bexar
Guards," and Isaac Ryan was also a member of that group. Both Capt. Blazeby
and Lt. White were members of the New Orleans Grays, and both Blazeby and White
were killed at the Alamo along with Isaac Ryan.
A famous Englishman once wrote that the place in
foreign soil, where a British soldier was buried, would remain "forever
England." Hence, a spot in the Alamo, where Isaac Ryan spilled his blood
on the floor will remain "forever Lake Charles." Likewise, Isaac
Ryan will always remain one of the sacred heroes who shed his blood to free the
Republic of Texas.