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Henry Clay Ranney
ONE of the ablest and most prominent members of the Ohio bar for half a century was the late Henry Clay
Ranney, who was for over four decades one of Cleveland's most influential citizens, a director of business
corporations and public institutions. Probably no man has been a more influential factor in the life and development of the Forest City. He was a most creditable representative of a family prominent in the judiciary history of the Buckeye State. As a lawyer he stood in the front ranks, and enjoyed a very extensive and lucrative practice until his retirement from active life, when the twilight of his years began to descend upon him. There was strength, fidelity, and honor in his character. The relations between him and his client were loyal and genuine; he was steadfast, sure, and true. Among his professional brethren he was noted for his thorough knowledge of the law, not only of its great, underlying principles, but also of its niceties and its exacting details, and for his faculty of clearly presenting to court and jury the law and facts of the case. Rectitude, moral force, integrity, innate love of justice, exalted sense of honor, and unflinching advocacy of that which is right, were well-defined elements of his personal character. Add to these industry, accomplished mental equipment, and we have the key to his success in one of the most exacting of professions.
Mr. Ranney was born at Freedom, Portage County, Ohio, June 1, 1829. His father was Elijah W. Ranney, a merchant, and eldest brother of Judge Rufus P. Ranney, of the Ohio Supreme Court, and also was a brother of the late John L. Ranney, who was a prominent attorney of Ravenna, Ohio. The mother of our subject, who was known in her maidenhood as Levana Larcomb, was one of twelve children born to Paul and Polly Larcomb. When Henry C. Ranney was six years old, his father died, in 1835, and the lad was adopted into the family of his uncle, Judge Rufus P. Ranney, and at once placed in school and given the advantages of a liberal education. While attending school, he studied law in his uncle's office, and, making rapid progress, as a result of his close application and his natural predilection toward legal science, he was admitted to the bar in, 1852, and soon thereafter began practice in Warren, Ohio, in the office of Judge Birchard. He was successful from the start, and it was not long until he entered into partnership with his uncle, John L. Ranney, at Ravenna, which association continued satisfactorily until the death of the senior member of the firm, after which our subject continued in the practice alone at Ravenna until 1872, when he came to Cleveland, where the balance of his life was spent. Here he formed a partnership with his uncle, Hon. Rufus P. Ranney, and the latter's son, John R. Ranney, and later was associated with Henry McKinney, under the firm name of Ranney & McKinney. John R. Ranney was also a member of the firm, but he and Judge McKinney both withdrew from the firm in 1890. He retired from the active practice of law several years before his death on account of his varied business interests growing to extensive proportions, and to his advancing age.
During the war between the States, Air. Ranney proved his patriotism by offering his services to the Federal Government, and in 1862 he was appointed assistant adjutant-general of volunteers, and assigned to duty on the staff of Gen. E. B. Tyler, of the Army of the Potomac. He was with this command at the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, and won honorable mention at both. He was also in a number of minor engagements. He was in the First Brigade, Third Division, Fifth Army Corps. After two years of faithful and meritorious military service, he was honorably discharged and returned to Cleveland, whereupon he resumed the practice of law.
Mr. Ranney was a stockholder and director in the Guardian Savings and Trust Company, the Cleveland Stone Company, the Cleveland and Mahoning Valley Railroad Company, the Continental Sugar Company, the Citizens' Savings and Trust Company, the Land Investment Company, and the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railway Company. He was at one time vice president of the American Surety Company, and was a trustee for the Society for Savings. In business circles he enjoyed almost as prominent a place as at the bar, and he was regarded as one of the far-seeing, capable, conservative, and trustworthy financiers of Cleveland, a man of sound judgment, and rare acumen, as well as unquestioned integrity.
Mr. Ranney was married September 19, 1853, to Helen A. Burgess, of Ravenna, Ohio, a representative of a prominent, old family, and a granddaughter of Hon. William Coolman, of that place. There she grew to womanhood and received a good education, and proved to be a most worthy helpmeet of her honored husband. To our subject and wife, seven children were born, only three of whom survive, namely, Amelia C. (Mrs. Horace B. Corner) ; Gertrude R. (Mrs. Frederick T. Sholes) ; and Helen (Mrs. Secord H. Large), all of whom received excellent educational advantages, and all prominent in Cleveland society.
For many years Henry C. Ranney was a member of the vestry of St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church, and was a trustee of the Northern Diocese of Ohio. He was very active in church work, and contributed large sums to religious and benevolent movements. Although charitably inclined, he always gave quietly and not to attract attention and gain admiration. He was prominent in Masonic affairs, having attained the thirty-second degree in that fraternity. He was a member of the Army and Navy Post No. 187 of the Grand Army of the Republic; he was a companion of the Loyal Legion, and a member of the Army of the Potomac. He was senior vice commander of the Loyal Legion in 1903 and 1904. He was a member of the American Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, and the Cleveland Bar Association. He was at one time president of the Cleveland Museum of Art, also president of the Western School of Design of Cleveland. He was a trustee for the Huntington, Hurlbut, and Kelley estates,
which made large bequests to the Museum of Art. Mr. Ranney was trustee and vice president of Case Library, a member of the State Board of Charities, and a life member of the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce. He was president of the Western Reserve Historical Society. Many of his trusteeships and directorships he resigned when he retired from active life. He had retained membership in the Country and Union clubs. He was at one time a member of the University Club, the Euclid Club, the Rowfant Club, and the Castalia Club. He was a trustee of the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust. He was widely read, owned a valuable library, and he traveled extensively, and yet with all his traveling, club associations, and varied business interests, he was considered one of the busiest and most industrious lawyers in Ohio. He had the happy faculty of looking after a large number of things simultaneously, in short, had a capacity for far more work than the average man.
The death of Henry C. Ranney occurred at his summer home, "Glenhurst," in the suburbs of Cleveland, Wednesday, October 8, 1913, in his eighty-fifth year. Although he had been in failing health for some time, his death was unexpected, and his passing out was the occasion for universal grief in the Forest City where he was so well known, so greatly beloved by the masses and where he had done so much for the public weal. The funeral, which was held in St. Paul's Cathedral, was very largely attended, and it was under the direction of Rev. Dr. Walter R. Breed, rector. The active pallbearers were Horace B. Corner, Frederick T. Sholes, Dr. Secord H. Large, C. W. Fuller, Ranney Corner, and Kenneth Corner. Special music was furnished by St. Paul's choir. Interment was made in Lakeview Cemetery, where he rests from the exacting labors of a strenuous, useful, and upright life, but the forces for the material, civic, and moral good, of the locality honored by his citizenship to a ripe, old age, which he set in motion, will continue, for generations to come, to bear fruit of which his friends and descendants may well be proud.
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