Biography of Eleazer Jesse Ring

Eleazer Jesse Ring, born in 1824 in Massachusetts, became a prominent lumberman in Saginaw Valley, Michigan. He started as an ambitious educator at sixteen before moving to Ontario, Canada, and then to Ohio, where he entered the lumber business. By forming partnerships and wisely purchasing timberlands, Ring established successful operations that supplied lumber throughout the northeast. After 25 years, he retired in 1887. Ring married Anne E. Clarke and had three surviving children. Known for his integrity and kind demeanor, he was esteemed in business and personal life. Ring, who was well-read and had a fine appreciation for music, died suddenly in 1896.

Eleazer J. Ring, who was one of those sturdy lumbermen who developed the timber resources of Saginaw Valley, was born in Springfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts, on September 20, 1824. He was of old New England ancestry, with some members of his family having settled in Western Massachusetts early in the eighteenth century, and giving their name to the village of Ringville. His early education was obtained in the public schools of Springfield, and later he attended the Academy at Wilbraham, Massachusetts. He was a boy of progressive spirit and ambition, and at the age of sixteen, he began teaching school at Cape Cod. His pupils were chiefly enrolled from the families of sailors and fishermen of the coast, and he liked the occupation so well that he followed it for several years.

When about twenty-five years of age, he went to Toronto, and then to Hamilton, Ontario, where he resided for a while and engaged in the lumber business. From Hamilton, he moved to Huron, Ohio, a small port on Lake Erie, and continued in the same line of work. In 1857, he became associated with C. N. Ryan and J. T. Johnson in the firm of Ryan, Johnson & Company, of Sandusky, Ohio, and soon after moved there. At that time, the port of Sandusky was becoming a lumber distributing point of some importance. For a number of years, lumber was shipped in from the pineries of Northern Michigan by vessel, assorted to grades, and distributed in car lots throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and the East.

In 1862, the firm sent Mr. Ring to Saginaw to look after the buying and shipping end of their business. To stock their yard at the most advantageous terms, they soon after purchased tracts of timber lands on the Tittabawassee, conducted extensive logging operations, had the logs sawed at various mills on the Saginaw River, and shipped the lumber by water to Sandusky. These multiple operations, requiring keen judgment and ability, he conducted for the firm with marked success for twenty-five years and retired from active business in 1887. For several years, he was interested with Charles A. Rust in a sawmill on the line of the Saginaw Valley & St. Louis Railroad, in working up a tract of timber located near the present town of Wheeler.

In 1851, Mr. Ring was married to Miss Anne E. Clarke, of Hamilton, Ontario. Four children were born to them, three of whom — William L., Clarke L., and Annie S., wife of the late Dr. William E. Conroy — survive him and are residents of Saginaw. Mrs. Ring was a charming woman of true social qualities and was a devout member of the First Presbyterian Church. She died on December 13, 1891, and was mourned by many close friends. Mr. Ring passed away quite suddenly of apoplexy on July 12, 1896.

Though of a Puritanic mind, Mr. Ring was whole-souled, generous, and deeply sympathetic, loving a quiet home life surrounded by his family, to which he was thoroughly devoted. He was the kindest of men, possessed a quiet vein of humor, and was much appreciated by his intimate friends. Among those for whom he had no special regard, he was known as a genial, companionable man who was inclined to judge them by their virtues rather than by their faults. In business circles, he was held in great esteem, as he was known to be a man of the highest integrity, of the strictest moral caliber, and one who could be depended upon to aid in every worthy project for the upbuilding of the city.

Mr. Ring was also possessed of fine literary tastes, was exceedingly well-read, and familiar with the best authors with whom he spent many pleasant and profitable hours. He was gifted with a keen and delicate ear for music, which he understood and appreciated, and was able to analyze the tonal qualities of classical music.


Mills, James Cooke, History of Saginaw County, Michigan; historical, commercial, biographical, Saginaw, Michigan : Seemann & Peters, 1918.

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