Garland Mitchell Ryals (1839 – )

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“RYALS, Garland Mitchell, legislator and truck farmer, was born in Cumberland county, Va., May 27, 1839. His father’s ancestors came from Wales, his great-grandfather settling in Westmoreland county, Va. His father, V. C. Ryals, through his mother, was from the famous Cabell family. His mother, Hardenia C. Mitchell, of Louise county, Va., was daughter of a gallant revolutionary colonel. Garland had an academic education, and was deputy sheriff of his county before twenty-one. He entered the war in the Cumberland troop of cavalry, an old organization dating from the revolution, of which his father was a member. He was color sergeant of his company in the 4th Virginia cavalry, afterward the 3d Virginia cavalry; became second sergeant; was commissioned in the fall of 1861 second lieutenant; served in the West with the 1st Kentucky cavalry; was on staff duty with Gen. Helm’s brigade; returned to Virginia in the fall of 1862; was promoted to be captain and major of cavalry and served on the staffs of Gen. Fitz Hugh Lee, Gen. Jeb Stuart, Gen. Wade Hampton and again with Gen. Fitz Hugh Lee, gallantly fighting up to Appomattox. After the war he settled in Nelson county, Va., merchandizing, railroading and farming. In 1869 he removed to Savannah,Ga., and did a drayage business for six years, and then connected with it a cotton farm in Sereven county, and  a truck farm in Chatham county.

In 1880 he sold out all but his t ruck business, finding himself in debt. He has since pursued the truck farming successfully. He was in 1880 delegate to the state democratic convention and in 1890 state representative. He has been almost continuously chairman of the democratic executive committee of his congressional district for twelve years. Maj. Ryals was a distinguished and valuable officer. He was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant for ” gallant and meritorious conduct” in the peninsula. He has been an active leader in political matters and a useful legislator, but his greatest achievement has been that he has made himself the leader of the great truck industry of the South by initiating business methods in it as its only means of success, earning in the business a farm of 125 acres, working twenty-five hands regularly, and 200 hands at times; shipping and selling at home as much as $25,000 worth of vegetables and farm products in a year, and paying $4,000 in freight. He is a gentleman of sterling qualities and marked influence and public spirit. He married in Virginia, in 1864, Elizabeth Kennedy, who died in 1870; and in 1871, in Greenville, S. C., Anna Ware. He has five children—four by his present estimable wife.”

Source:  The National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Vol. 2, James T. White & Company, New York, 1885, page 441


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