Ryland Drennan

Found photos, found cousins

One of the pleasures of hosting a website filled with genealogical records is connecting with family members I might not otherwise know.  Neither of my parents were diligent about maintaining family connections, save for periodic trips to Santa Cruz or Los Angeles to visit my grandparents.  On very rare occasions, we would go on trips that might include a visit to a great uncle or aunt, but these were the exception, once in a lifetime events that were almost never repeated.  Consequently, I grew up able to count the family I knew on my fingers, unaware what I was missing in the common threads I shared with great aunts and uncles, cousins, and their various husbands and wives.

My recent post on Ryland Drennan led to a new connection that reminded me of the value of  shared heritage, and how delightful it can be to reestablish relationships with extended familiy.  A couple of weeks after posting the item, which lamented a lost family photo, my father’s first cousin, Janet Martini, paid one of her occasional visits to the site and spotted the post.  Janet mentioned she had several family photos of Ryland, which she subsequently scanned and sent to me.  In addition to a copy of the lost photo, she included an image I had never seen, featuring Ryland on the deck of a ship with his young nephew, Fernald Byrne.  Fernald died tragically at age 15 on the Giant Dipper roller coaster at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, and is somewhat of a family legend for that terrible event.

Walter Fernald Byrne and Ryland Drennan

Fernald Byrne on deck with his uncle, Ryland Drennan circa 1920.

Looking at the photo of Ryland, it’s a little less glamorous than I remembered, but still a striking image.  The cigarette in his hand gives evidence of just one vice which may have helped end his life at the ripe young age of 50.  But I’m more enchanted by the image of uncle and nephew sharing a happy moment together on deck, and grateful to have connected with a not-so-distant cousin, who went out of their way to share some materials that can now be seen by other family members.


Hugh Byrne

About Hugh Byrne

Genealogy is a hobby, and this site is primarily a vehicle for publishing my family's research (along with occasional random thoughts on other topics). I enjoy hearing from others researching related lines, and site feedback/suggestions are always welcomed and appreciated.


  1. I found your site by searching for information on Ransom Garland. I am not certain of your connection to the Garlands? Just wanted to tell how great this site is. Very impressive and you obviously have a super sense of humor. I inherited some pretty extensive research my Aunt Margaret McElveen collected on the Friersons, Garlands and other family lines back in the 1970’s. I am a descendent of one of Ransom and Isabella Frierson Garland’s daughters, Mary Garland Epps who was my great great grandmother. I have an old photo of her sister, Lottie Epps McCutcheon, but no photos
    of any of the other members of the family, You are very fortunate to have so many family photos that were labeled. I guess you know that Isabella Frierson Garland grew up on the plantation in Sumter County that is featured in the book, “Life on the Old Plantation” by I E Lowery, an ex-slave who had lived there. I grew up in Sumter and now live in Columbia, SC. I am a very part-time amateur genealogist. Your site is great!

    1. Hi Wilson,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for taking the time to comment. It’s a good thing to have ancestors who were a little obsessive/compulsive, as it sure makes for better identification of old photos.

      Alas, my Garland connection is minimal. 99.99% of all Garland data is researched by Wayne Garland, and his work also appears on the site. I’m forwarding your info to him, and I’m sure he’ll be in touch.


  2. I am descended from the sister of Sewell Fogg Graves. I have pictures of his parents, John and Delilah Smith Graves, and some of Sewell as well. Please contact me if you are interested!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>