James Gazaway Ryals, Jr.

The Cartersville American
Cartersville, Georgia
April 21, 1885, page 3
Transcribed by:  

The Reaper Death.
Young and Old Alike Yield to His Power.
James G. Ryals, Jr., President of the Alabama State Normal School, Dies at Jacksonville—Other Deaths in Our Community.

Died in Jacksonville, Ala., at 3:45 p. m., on Saturday, April 18th, 1885, James Gazaway Ryals, Jr., age 30 years and ten days.

When the simple announcement was made on the streets of Cartersville last Saturday evening, it was followed by many expressions of sadness and regret.  It is the end of a life that was full of promise.  He was in the full bloom of his young manhood.  The powers of his mind had developed and unfolded until he stood a veritable intellectual giant among men.  There was a perfection of culture, a superiority of intellect, a purity of purpose and a nobility of soul combined in him that has rarely been equaled.  He was fully equipped for the achievement of great victories in the world of thought, and honors lay within easy grasp when the end came.  A brief sketch of his life will be of interest to our readers:

Mr. Ryals was born on the 26th day of March, 1855.  He was reared on a farm in Bartow county, four miles west of Cartersville, and received his early education at home under the tuition of his father, Dr. James G. Ryals.  At the age of eighteen he professed religion and joined the Raccoon Creek Baptist church, near Stilesboro.  In 1875 he entered Mercer University and graduated with distinguished honors, after a two years’ course.  He was, in this institution, the recognized leader of a class of unusual size and brilliancy, and was the easy winner of the first honor.  Returning home in 1877 he farmed for one year.  He entered the University of Virginia in the fall of 1879, where he spent four years –taking a Master of Arts course, and also a course in mixed mathematics.  This latter course having been made by only six other men in the whole history of that celebrated university.

The distinguished Dr. Francis Smith, Professor of Physics in the University of Virginia, said of him, “During my thirty years connection with the University I have rarely, if ever, met his equal, and never his superior.”  He was without doubt the best educated man of his age south of Mason’s and Dixon’s line, and perhaps in the United States.  On his return from the University of Virginia he was elected President of the Faculty of the State Normal School of Alabama, which grew under his management, from an experiment to one of the most flourishing and successful institutions of learning in the State.  He filled this position to the time of his death.  His power and usefulness was just beginning to be realized when he died.

Intellectually he was a great man; but more unusual than the strength of his intellect, more beautiful than the perfection of his mind, more extraordinary than the scope of his learning, was the purity of his life.  Chaste in language, honest in purpose, pure in thought, brave in the defense of right, and fearless in the discharge of duty he was indeed a model worthy of imitation.  On his tomb will be inscribed, at his own request, the simple words “He did what he could.”  And how much he did!  What a martyr he was to duty!  And how nobly and well that duty was discharged!

A prominent citizen of Jacksonville spoke truly when he said “his death is a public calamity.”  The South has need of such men as he was, and could ill afford to lose him.  But while the ways of Providence are past finding out, yet we know that He doeth all things well.  The remains of Mr. Ryals passed through Cartersville last Sunday evening, on the way to Macon, where he was buried yesterday afternoon.  “We shall rarely see his like again.”


May 19, 1885
Page 1.

James Gazaway Ryals, Jr.

[From the Christian Index.  A very long obituary, see April 21, 1885.]


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