Biography of James W. Riley

JAMES W. RILEY. He whose name heads this sketch is one of the leading farmers of Spring Creek Township, Howell County, Missouri, and was born in Franklin County, Missouri, in 1847.

His parents, Lewis and Ann (Little) Riley, were born in Crawford County, Il., in 1824 and 1829, respectively. They fell in love and eloped to Anna, Illinois, where they were married, after which they settled in Johnson County, Illinois, and never afterward saw any of their people. In 1845 they came to Franklin County, Missouri, later to Maries County, thence to Miller and Johnson Counties, then back to Miller County, and when the Civil War came up removed to Rolla where Mr. Riley joined Company 1, Sixth Missouri Cavalry, and died in the hospital at St. Louis August 29, 1863. He had been an industrious and reasonably successful farmer, and being upright in every particular lie was highly respected. When he was a small lad his father died in Crawford County, Illinois John Little, the maternal grandfather, and his wife also died in Crawford County, Illinois, so far as is known. He was a native of Holland, but when a young man came to the United States, and became one of the wealthiest citizens of Crawford County. After the war had closed Mrs. Riley came with her family to Howell County, and here she was called from life in 1882, after a noble, useful and well-spent life. She was a member of the Congregational Methodist Church, and in that faith brought up her children: Henry H., who died at Rolla, having been a soldier of the Sixth Missouri, United States Army; James W.; John F., who died in this county in 1872; Converse is a prominent farmer of West Plains; Margaret is the wife of B. J. Carrico, of Izard County, Arkansas; Letha Etta is the wife of T. J. Dorsey, of Ozark County, Missouri; Lewis Cass died in 1867, and two other children died in infancy.

James W. Riley spent his youthful days on a farm, but his education was cut short by the opening of the Civil War. However he has been an extensive reader, and especially of general history, and he has an extended information on the majority of subjects, in fact is a well-informed and intelligent man. He is a fluent and entertaining conversationalist, is a genial whole-souled gentleman and a most agreeable companion. During the war he served for a short time in Company K, Ninth Missouri State Militia, and was stationed at Iberia, Missouri After the war was over he came with his mother to Howell County, and was here married in 1867 to Martha, daughter of Josiah and Jane (Williams) Corrico, natives of Greene County, Indiana, whence they came to Douglas County, Missouri, and later to Howell County, where they followed the occupation of farming, and eventually died. Mrs. Riley was born in Ozark County, Missouri, and has borne her husband the following children: William M., Nancy, (wife of John S. Whitten,) Mattie J., Mary J., Mitchell E., Virginia, Parzetta, Margaret and Maud. Mr. Riley has lived in Spring Creek Township nearly ever since the war, and about twenty years ago settled on his present farm, upon which but small improvement had been made at that time. He now has one of the finest farms in the county, consisting of 230 acres, which is well improved in the way of buildings, fences, etc. He has been quite an extensive stock dealer for a number of years also, in fact is well up in all branches of his calling, and a progressive and enterprising man of business. He has the push and determination to shove all his enterprises to a successful issue, and as a justice of the peace (an office he filled for twelve years) he was intelligent and impartial. He is now a notary public. He was formerly an ardent Republican in politics, but early espoused the Greenback cause, and has believed in the principles of that party ever since, and is now one of the most earnest defenders of the Populist party. He is one of the best informed men on political economy in the country, and his reasons for his convictions are always clear and well defined. He is a member of Pottersville Lodge No. 32, of the I. 0. 0. F., in which he is past noble grand, and he is one of the Patriarch Militant Royal Blue at West Plains. He also belongs to the A. 0. U. W. Lodge No. 262 at West Plains, and he and his wife are members of the Congregational Methodist Church.


A Reminiscent History of the Ozark Region: comprising a condensed general history, a brief descriptive history of each county, and numerous biographical sketches of prominent citizens of such counties. Chicago: Goodspeed Brothers Publishers. 1894.

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