Prominent among the businessmen of Payette is William Louis Ryder, who for eight years has been closely identified with the history of the city as a representative of one of its most important business interests. He is a man of keen discrimination and sound judgment, and his executive ability and excellent management have brought to the concern with which he is connected a large degree of success. The safe, conservative policy which he inaugurated commends itself to the judgment of all, and has secured to the company a patronage which makes the volume of trade transacted over its counters of great importance and magnitude. The prosperity of the Payette Valley Mercantile Company, Limited, is certainly due in a large measure to its president and manager, the gentleman whose name initiates this review.
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Mr. Ryder claims Kentucky as the state of his nativity, and was born in Louisa, Lawrence County, February 5, 1847. His ancestors were early settlers of the east and south. His grandfather. John Ryder, removed from Pennsylvania to Virginia, and Levi Ryder, father of our subject, from Virginia to Kentucky. He married Miss Martha Burns, and was engaged in the manufacture and sale of harness, saddlery and other goods in that line. He died of pneumonia, in the thirty-fifth year of his age. His wife survived him for some time, and reached the age of seventy-six years. Her people were all representatives of professional life.
William L. Ryder was one of two sons, but is now the only survivor of the family. He was only five years of age when his father died, and for a time lived with his grandfather and afterward with an uncle, but when only twelve years of age began to provide for his own maintenance, following any pursuit, however humble, that would yield him an honest living. One of the first positions which he secured was that of driver of a cart used in hauling dirt for a railroad grade. Later he secured a situation in a drug store, working nights and mornings for his board and the privilege of attending school. In 1861, when the civil war was inaugurated, he was a slender youth of fourteen, but he made four different attempts to enlist in the Confederate army, and at length served without being mustered in, joining his regiment in 1863.
After the war Mr. Ryder went to Pikeville, Kentucky, where he opened a drug store, which he conducted until 1868, when he sold out and returned to Virginia. There he engaged in railroading for a year, and in 1869 entered the service of the Union Pacific Railroad Company, as brakeman. He was with that company for twenty-two years and steadily worked his way upward, gaining promotion from time to time until he was made superintendent. No higher testimonial of his efficient service could be given than the statement of his long connection with a corporation which demands fidelity and ability on the part of its employees. In 1891, however, he resigned and came to Payette, where he aided in the organization of the Payette Valley Mercantile Company, Limited, of which he was made president and manager, a position which he has filled continuously since. He devotes his energy almost exclusively to the conduct of the store, but has made investments in property, and is the owner of a valuable farm of one hundred and sixty acres near Parma.
In his political affiliations Mr. Ryder is a Silver-Republican, and is deeply interested in the growth and success of that party. He has twice served as chairman of the board of trustees of Payette. He is also an exemplary Mason, thoroughly informed on the teachings and practices of that benevolent fraternity. He has taken the York and Scottish degrees, has attained the thirty-second degree in the consistory, and also belongs to the Mystic Shrine. He was made a Mason in Bethany Lodge, No. 21, A. F. & A. M., in Shoshone, and while residing in Pocatello passed all the chairs and was master for two terms. He is a charter member of Washoe Lodge, Xo. 28, in Payette, and has been its master for three years. He received the Royal Arch degrees in Ogden, was high priest at Pocatello for two years, and is now holding the same office in the chapter, in Payette. He is familiar with the ritual, and is also active in the work of the order which prompts the relief of suffering. He is a man of broad sympathies, and the poor and needy have found in him a friend. The difficulties which he had to encounter in his own business career have made him very ready to extend a helping hand to those who try to aid them-selves, and in his business he ever rewards faithful service on the part of his employees when opportunity offers.