Historical Encyclopedia and History of Fulton County

William Riley
Page 1062
transcribed by Danni Hopkins


RILEY, William A., formerly a prominent and prosperous farmer, located three miles north of Lewistown, Fulton County, Ill., but now living I retirement in the city of Lewistown, was born on a farm near the site of the present town of Bryant, Fulton County, October 21, 1845. He is a son of William and Mary (Blair) Riley, natives, respectively, of the vicinity of Maysville, Ky., and the city of Portsmouth, Va.

Mr. Riley’s great-grandfather, William Riley, was of Scotch-Irish descent, and lived in Pennsylvania. The grandfather, also William Riley, was born in that State and moved to Kentucky, where he was married to Mary McIlvain. In 1829 he died at his home in Lewis County, Ky., and in 1833 his widow and her ten children traveled by wagon to Rushville, Ill., moving the next year to the farm near Bryant now occupied by her grandson, Everett Carter.

Mrs. Riley and her five sons and five daughters lived on that farm together and after the marriage of all the children except two (Walter and Charles), who died there, she made her home with her son John on the same farm until her death. But one of this family of ten children now survives—Mary A. (Mrs. Little), of Vermont, Fulton County. The others were as follows: Louisa (Mrs. Lindley), James, Margaret (Mrs. Hasson), Walter, William, John, Charles, Eveline (Mrs. Laws) and Harriet J. (Mrs. Carter).

William Riley, father of William A., was born April 5, 1811, at Cabin Creek, near Maysville, Ky., settled in Buckheart Township, Fulton County, 1n 1844, and was engaged in farming there and in Lewistown Township until his death, February 7, 1873. His widow survived him until October 6, 1886, when she, too, passed away. The father was closely identified with the development of Fulton County and was a man of much prominence, being held in high esteem. He was wedded to Mary Blair April 24, 1843, and six children resulted from their union, namely: William, Mary E. (Mrs. Laws), John H., Eveline, Henry and Indiana. The career of the father of this family is suitably portrayed on another page of this work.

William A. Riley was educated in the district schools of his neighborhood and in 1858 moved with his parents to the farm on Section 12, Lewistown Township, now occupied by his brother Henry. There he remained until 1880, having charge of the home place after his father’s death. In that year he purchased the farm three miles north of Lewistown now occupied by John Taylor, where he lived until 1904, moving then to Lewistown. His farming operations have been invariably successful, and he is now living at leisure in the enjoyment of a competency. He is a man of upright character and a public-spirited citizen.

On October 10, 1876, Mr. Riley was united in marriage with Mattie Pritchard, a native of Liverpool, Fulton County, Ill., and a daughter of George and Amanda (Rice) Pritchard, natives, respectively, of New Hampshire and Vermont. Mrs. Riley’s birth occurred in Liverpool, Fulton County, Ill., her father being born near Ipswich, N. H., and her mother at Thetford, Vt. They were married in Lewistown, Ill. The father came west and settled at Farmington, Fulton County, about 1840, engaging in mercantile pursuits all his life. He died in 1874 and his wife in 1860. George Pritchard was a Republican and a member of the Presbyterian Church. Into his family were born six children—three sons and three daughters—of whom two sons are deceased. Three children have resulted fro this union, namely: Lena, a teacher at Lewistown; George, of Los Angeles, Cal., and Ella. Politically Mr. Riley is a supporter of the Republican party. The descendants of Mary (McIlvain) Riley, the pioneer settler of the family in Fulton County, have become quite numerous, and since 1897 it has been their custom to hold annual reunions in the form of picnics in the grove on Henry Riley’s farm, in Section 12, Lewistown Township. About one hundred relatives are usually in attendance on these interesting occasions. (See sketch of William Riley, Sr., at end of this chapter.)


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