Ryan is a town in Jefferson County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 816 at the 2010, a decline from 894 at the 2000 census. It is also the birthplace of actor and martial arts master, Chuck Norris.
Location of Ryan, Oklahoma
The incorporated community of Ryan, Oklahoma, is located in southwestern Jefferson County. It is situated some two miles (3 km) north of the Red River at the intersection of U.S. Highway 81 and State Highway 32, eleven miles (18 km) south of Waurika and 115 miles (185 km) south by southwest from Oklahoma City. It was named in honor of rancher Stephen W. Ryan, an Arkansas native who settled near present Ryan in 1875.
As a result of his marriage to a Chickasaw woman, Ryan acquired vast acreage in present Jefferson County, Oklahoma, then a part of Pickens County, Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory. When the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway constructed a station on Ryan's land in 1892, he platted the site for the town that now bears his name. A post office had been established in that locality in June 1890, and Ryan's home, built circa 1877, was the community's first residence.
Ryan was named the seat of Jefferson County by delegates to the 1906 Constitutional Convention. It lost that title in February 1912, when county voters chose Waurika to be the county seat. Ryan developed as an agricultural and ranching community. Local ranchers raised cattle and hogs, and farmers produced cotton, corn, and wheat. The fruit industry was a prosperous enterprise, as pears, peaches, apples, plums, and strawberries were grown in abundance.
Fire nearly destroyed Ryan in December 1895, but the residents rebuilt. Ryan had 1,115 residents in 1907. By 1908, it had thirty businesses, including two banks, a hotel, a cotton gin, two lumberyards, a flour mill, and a cottonseed oil mill. By 1930 the townspeople enjoyed one mile (1.6 km) of paved roads, two schools, three hundred telephone connections, and a bus line. The town's population peaked at 1,379 in 1920 and then declined. The 1940 and 1950 censuses reported 1,115 and 1,019, respectively. Numbers dropped to 978 in 1960. By 1980 the town had 1,083 residents, declining to 894 in 2000.
At the start of the twenty-first century, Ryan had four Protestant churches and one Catholic church. Two primary and secondary schools were available to the public. The Ryan public schools and the Ryan Nursing Home were the town's major employers. The Ryan Nursing home, however, closed in 2011. The weekly Ryan Leader, the community's lone newspaper in 2003, began as the Ryan Record in 1894.