The Family of Daniel Riley of Washington County, Virginia
Michael A. Ports1 - email@example.com
The origins of the Riley family in southwestern Virginia are somewhat shrouded in mystery. Daniel Riley, the great great great great grandfather of the author, first appears in the extant records of southwestern Virginia frontier soon after the Revolutionary War. Unfortunately, these few records do not reveal much about Daniel Riley prior to 1800 or so. According to oral tradition, Daniel changed his surname from O'Riley soon after coming to Virginia from Dublin, Ireland. But no records have been found to support that tradition. A Patrick, William, John, Nathaniel, and Allen Riley appear in the early records of southwestern Virginia, in addition to the subject of this essay. Whether and how these men may have been related is not yet known, although it is presumed tha t they were. It is certain, however, that they were at least well aquainted. Perhaps continued research will document the relationships among the early Riley pioneers in southwestern Virginia and discover their Irish origins. Hopefully, the following summary and discussion of the available records will expedite that research.
The First Riley Pioneers in Southwestern Virginia
The French and Indian War ended with the Proclamation of 1763, in which George III forbade settlement west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. However, the Virginia government paid its war veterans with grants of land west of the mountains. Thus, white settlers scurried to the frontiers and, in reality, the Proclamation of 1763 was ignored in southwestern Virginia.2 In 1769 the region was part of Augusta County. But, in the following year, the formation of Botetourt County moved the seat of government closer to the settlements along the Clinch and Holston Rivers. By 1773, the frontier settlements had advanced so rapidly that the new western county, Fincastle, was created. In spite of the terror from frequent Indian attacks, settlement continued. The Committee of Safety for Virginia, which had replaced the royal governor as the executive of the state, ordered that six companies of militia be called up to protect the frontier settlements. Meanwhile the General Assembly had met and petitions from the residents of Kentucky, Clinch Valley, and Holston Valley were received urging that new western counties be formed from Fincastle. In late 1776, Fincastle County was abolished and replaced by Montgomery, Washington, and Kentucky Counties. In 1786, Russell County was formed from Washington County and named for the local Revolutionary War hero, Brigadier General William Russell. Lee County was formed from the western portions of both Russell and Washington Counties in 1793. Then Scott County was split off from portions of Lee, Russell, and Washington in 1814.
One of the first lands surveyed on the waters of the Holston and Clinch Rivers is the 120 acre tract on Sinking Creek a branch of the Holston River for John Riley on February 13, 1774.3 This may have been the same John and Elizabeth Riley of Botetourt County, who sold to William Preston for 15 pounds Virginia money a 195 acre part of the 1004 acre tract patented to John Riley on September 16, 1765 on a branch of Catawba Creek formerly in Augusta County.4 John Riley served as a private under Captain Evan Shelby on the expedition against the Indians, which culminated on October 10, 1774 in the Battle of Point Pleasant, the only battle in Dunmore's War.5 Captain Shelby's Company of Fincastle County Militia had been raised along the waters of the Holston River.6 That strategic victory over the Indians opened Kentucky and Tennessee for settlement and provided a buffer to the Clinch settlements. However, Indian depravations continued well into the mid 1790's.7 In early 1775, a Committee of Safety was formed to govern Fincastle County, with William Russell in attendance. In response to provocations from the English crown, the Committee of Safety issued the Fincastle Resolutions. That now famous statement of opposition to the royal government of George III demonstrated that the leaders on the frontier were willing to fight for their freedom. Undoubtedly, many of the settlers agreed.
Patrick Ryhley, on December 9, 1785, signed the petition to the Virginia Legislature seeking to form Russell County from Washington County.8 But before the new county was formed, he recorded his survey, by Treasury Warrant No. 11782, on March 9, 1786, for a 120 acre tract lying on the waters of Mockeyson Creek and on the north side of Huston's Run Path.9 With his lands in the newly formed Russell County, Patrick Ryley appears on the first tax list of Commissioner Samuel Ritchie, dated 1787, with no males between 16 and 21, no slaves, 3 horses, and 2 cattle.10 Now that the long war was over and the Indian menace had subsided, the settlements along the Clinch and Holston Rivers were filling quickly. Patrick did not follow the frontier further west, but continued to add to his land holdings. He had surveyed on January 29, 1793, by Treasury Warrant No. 14,585, a 42 acre tract adjacent to his previously recorded survey.11 On May 3, 1797, Patrick Rylie of Russell County bought from Walter Preston of Washington County for $100 a 170 acre tract lying on both sides of Mockeyson Creek between the lines of William Huston's and Fugit's.12 is assumed that Patrick's two tracts along Moccasin Creek were either adjoining or nearly so. But, on April 23, 1799, Patrick and Catherine Riley sold to John Riley for $300 current money all of that 170 acre tract previously purchased from Walter Preston.13 Both Patrick and Catherine signed with their mark. Unfortunately, no relationship to John Riley is mentioned in the deed. In turn, John Riley of Lee County sold that same 170 acre tract on Moccasin Creek to John Wood of Russell County, on February 6, 1802, for $400.14
On August 6, 1796, Nathaniel Riley of Washington County and Elizabeth his wife sold to Daniel Darby of Russell County for 50 pounds the 50 acre tract within Russell County located at the head of Mill Creek on the waters of Clinch River, which had been granted to Nathaniel Riley by patent dated March 29, 1789.15 Both Nathaniel and Elizabeth signed their mark. No witnesses were recorded with the deed. She may have been the Elizabeth Ryley who was enumerated in the 1810 Census of Washington County, aged over 45 years, with one male 16 to 26 and one female 16 to 26. If she were, then where was her husband Nathaniel? Perhaps he had ventured further west in search of better land only to return later. Nathaniel Riley and his wife Elizabeth of Washington County, on February 25, 1828, sold to William Riley, of Washington County, for $150 the 60 acre tract on the north fork of the Holston River where Nathaniel Riley lived.16 Unfortunately, no relationship between Nathaniel and William is mentioned in the deed, although it is assumed that Nathaniel was the father of William. Nathaniel Riley was enumerated in the 1830 Census of Washington County aged 80 to 90 with 1 female aged 70 to 80. Even though Nathaniel owned property and resided in Washington County for many years, his name appears on the county tax rolls only for the 1794. How he managed to avoid the tax collector for so long is unknown.
From the meager evidence available, it is not yet possible to determine just how Daniel Riley may have been related to the other Riley's of southwestern Virginia. It seems at least plausible that Patrick, John, Nathaniel, and Daniel were brothers, but there is no proof. Based on the available records, estimates of the birth dates for the four probable brothers follow:
1. i. Daniel, born circa 1739.
2. ii. John, born circa 1741.
iii. Nathaniel, born circa 1745.
3. iv. Patrick, born circa 1750.
1. Daniel Riley, at the age of 94, made the following declaration before the Washington County Court, on March 25, 1833, in order to qualify for a pension under the provision of the Pension Act passed by Congress the previous year.17
"That he enlisted in the army of the United States in the year 1776 in the month of March under Cap Thomas Bell at Staunton in Augusta County Virginia for three years or during the war. That he marched under Captt Bell to valley forge. There he was transferd to a company commanded by Capt Alexr Breckenridge in the Regt commanded by Colo Wm Russell. That he was in the battles of Brandawine & Germantown. and afterwards at the taking of Burgoine. Colo Russell and Colo Cabell commanding the Regt to which he belonged at the time of the engagements above alluded in the year 1777. He was then with his Regiment march to Middlebrook in New Jersey and remained there during that winter. And in state of New Jersey until 1779. In this year was at taking of Stoney point under the command of Genl Wayne, from thence was march to West point and after remaining there some time was march back to virginia, and in the winter of the same year was march to Charleston in South carolina, and was there when it was taken by the British, and made a prisoner and kept on board a guard ship until the taking of Cornwallis at yorktown Va was then exchanged and immediately afterward discharged at yorktown by Colo Russell. His discharge was sent to Richmond virginia where he obtained his land warrant."
(by his mark)
From his pension declaration, most of Daniel Riley's wartime exploits may be reconstructed. Commanded by Colonel William Russell, the 13th Virginia Regiment was assigned to Brigadier General Peter Muhlenberg's Brigade, then at Morristown, New Jersey, along with the 1st, 5th, 6th, and 9th Virginia Regiments as well as the German Regiment.18 However, Alexander Breckenridge did not command a company in this regiment.19 The 13th Virginia Regiment, also known as the West Augusta Regiment, was organized on February 12, 1777 at Fort Pitt to consist of nine companies from Yohogania, Monongalia, and Ohio Counties, which comprised the former West Augusta District of Virginia.20 Can it be assumed that Daniel was transferred to the 13th Regiment because he was an experienced frontiersman from West Augusta? Alternatively, did he simply not recall the specifics of his enlistment so many years later?
Muhlenberg's Brigade participated in the Battles of Brandywine on September 11, 1777 and Germantown on October 4, 1777.21 However, Daniel's regiment did not take part in the Saratoga Campaign, which culminated in the surrender of Major General John Burgoyne's British and German regulars. General Washington formed a provisional rifle corps on June 13, 1777 under Colonel Daniel Morgan of the 11th Virginia Regiment.22 The temporary corps served as light infantry and was the only Virginia unit that participated in the Saratoga Campaign. The men, primarily from Virginia and Pennsylvania Regiments, were selected for their marksmanship and woodcraft, lending credence to the assumption that Daniel Riley was a frontiersman from West Augusta. The provisional light infantry intimidated Burgoyne's Indians and drastically reduced his ability to procure accurate intelligence. Major General Horatio Gates inflicted two defeats on "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne and forced his surrender on October 17, 1777. Apparently, Daniel Riley was among reinforcements that were speeded to Gates immediately after the Battle of Germantown. Therefore, it is doubtful that Daniel participated in much more than the climax of the campaign against "Gentleman Johnny." Morgan's Battalion of Riflemen were considered only a temporary unit, thus Daniel may have been permanently assigned to the 11th Virginia Regiment, which was later redesignated the 7th and commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Cabell.23
While he may well have been marched back to Middlebrook, New Jersey, Daniel did not winter there. Because General Washington had abandoned New Jersey temporarily to the British, no troops were left there over the winter of 1778. Virtually all of the Continental Army, with few exceptions, wintered with Washington at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania that year. There, enduring great hardship and depravation, the Army was reorganized and received extensive training under Baron von Steuben. Daniel's pension declaration does not mention any further events in 1778 or the first half of 1779. At midnight on July 16, 1779, four provisional light infantry regiments, consisting entirely of hand picked men under the command of Brigadier General "Mad Anthony" Wayne, achieved a complete success in a surprise attack on Stony Point, New York.24 With bayonets fixed on unloaded muskets, the direct frontal assault upon a well fortified position, was instrumental in proving that the Continentals could stand up to and defeat the British regulars. Again, the fact that Daniel Riley was hand picked to join "Mad Anthony's" sharpshooting light infantry lends credence to the assumption that he was a seasoned frontiersman. He was certainly a seasoned combat veteran. By the end of December 1779 Wayne's elite corps was disbanded. Because the focus of the war had shifted to the southern arena, General Washington dispatched reinforcements. The Virginia line under the command of Brigadier General William Woodford reached Charleston, South Carolina on April 6, 1780. Daniel Riley was likely a private in Captain Alexander Breckenridge's Company of the newly formed and designated 3rd Virginia Regiment commanded by Colonel Nathaniel Gist.25 The entire Charleston garrison surrendered on May 12, 1780 when Charleston fell. This defeat was the worst suffered by the Continental Army during the Revolution. Daniel Riley then was forced to endure the next 16 months on a prison ship, probably in Charleston harbor, until the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in October of 1781. The British prison ships were notoriously wretched, killing perhaps more Americans than British rifles. Estimates of total deaths on such ships throughout the War run from 7,000 to as many as 8,000.26
For his service during the Revolutionary War, the State of Virginia granted Bounty Land Warrant No. 2896 for 200 acres to Daniel Riley on April 6, 1784.27 It is interesting to note that the warrant was issued by Alexander Breckenridge, the Captain under whom he had served during the war. The warrant reads as follows:
"This may certify that Daniel Rily a soldier in the Virginia Continental Line (Col Grayson's Regiment) enlisted the first day of January 1777 for the term of three years. afterwards reenlisted in December 1779 for the war. and hath received his full pay in paper currency up to the thirty first day of November 1779."
Given under my hand in Washington County this 17th day of October 1783.
Capt Virga line
The original warrant on file at the Virginia State Library was countersigned by Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Clark. On the reverse side of the warrant:
"For value received I do hereby assign & make over to James Raburn his heirs or assigns all my right & title to pay & land."
as witness my hand
Daniel X Ryley
(by his mark)
The bounty warrant is a more reliable record of Daniel's military service than his own sworn pension application because the application was filed so long after the War. Colonel William Grayson's Additional Continental Regiment of Infantry was raised at large from Maryland and Virginia in 1777.28 The regiment fought in the Pennsylvania Campaign of 1777 and saw combat at both Brandywine and Germantown. Lieutenant Thomas Bell was promoted to the Captaincy of the regiment's 10th Company. Because the ranks were ravaged by smallpox, the regiment was merged into Gist's Additional Regiment in April 1779. That same month, Daniel's name appears upon the payroll of the company of the newly reformed regiment commanded by Captain Alexander Breckenridge.29 After the merger, Daniel was assigned to Major Nathaniel Mitchell's Company upon whose extant payrolls he appears each month from May through November of 1779. From the warrant, it is clear that Daniel was in Washington County soon after the Revolutionary War. Both William Russell and Alexander Breckenridge had settled in Washington County before the War. Had Daniel also settled there before the War and gone to Staunton to enlist? Or, had he simply followed his officers there after his discharge? Daniel then sold his Bounty Warrant to James Raburn. But, the records do not indicate that he stayed in Washington County. Perhaps he ventured further west into Kentucky or Tennessee for a few years. Perhaps he plied a trade in nearby Abingdon or Saltville. Or, perhaps he farmed on shares or by lease. No further record of him has been found until 1791, when Daniel Realy paid personal property taxes in Washington County on one horse.30 On November 25, 1795, Daniel Ryley, assignee of Levey Jones, assignee of Peter Harmon, and assignee of Aaron Lewis recorded his survey for 150 acres by Treasury Warrant No. 9795 and for 50 acres by Treasury Warrant No. 12954 for a tract on both sides of the north fork of the Holston River, lying above the mouth of Tumbling Creek on the south side of Little Mountain.31 Daniel avoided paying taxes on the 200 acres of land until 1801, even though he paid the taxes for one horse in 1796, 1797, 1798, and 1799.32
In 1802 Daniel Riley began to pay taxes on two tracts, one of 200 acres and one of 46 acres, and continued to do so through the year 1807. Yet, no record has been found of him acquiring the second 46 acre tract. On January 17, 1804, Daniel Rylie bound his son, William, to John Cubine to serve as an apprentice tailor for 5 years.33 Daniel Ryley and wife Elizabeth, on April 20, 1805, sold for $26 to William King their interest in the waters of Halfacre Creek running through the lands of Neil McNeil and Daniel Ryley.34 On April 3, 1807, Daniel Riley deeded to his son-in-law Joseph Pendleton and his son Andrew Riley for love and affection "all my lands whereon we now live, lying about 3 miles from Saltville on fork of Holston" containing 246 acres.35 Joseph Pendleton received all of the lands on the north side of the Holston River and Andrew Riley received all of the lands south of the river. His wife, Elizabeth, did not release her right of dower as required. The lands remained undivided as Andrew Riley and Joseph Pendleton together paid the property taxes for the entire 246 acres from 1809 through 1824. The tract was located on the North Fork of the Holston River adjacent to the lands of James Doland and Charles Sherman.
On the 1824 tax roll, the notation "of Russell County" appears next to the names of Andrew Riley and Joseph Pendleton. On the 1825 tax roll, Andrew's name does not appear. The taxes were paid by Daniel Riley and Joseph Pendleton from 1825 through 1828 and thereafter by Daniel alone. The 1828 tax roll includes the notation that the 246 acre tract was part of Robert Preston's original tract of 300 acres. But at least 200 acres were part of Daniel's original 1795 survey. On October 11, 1833, Daniel Rylie and his wife, Elizabeth, sold to William Rylie for $150 the land where he lived containing 60 acres on the north fork of the Holston River.36 Curiously his wife, Elizabeth, did not sign the deed. And, on August 28, 1834, Daniel Ryley and William Ryley and his wife, Lydia, sold to James White for $1500 a 60 acre tract with a salt well on the south side of the north fork of the Holston River.37 Unfortunately, no records have been found which further identify Daniel's first wife, Elizabeth. Neither her age, her maiden name, nor the identity of her parents has been found. She apparently died sometime after April 20, 1805, when she signed the above deed, and sometime prior to March 18, 1807, when he remarried.
The children of Daniel and Elizabeth Riley were:
i. Elizabeth, born circa 1785. She was married to Joseph Pendleton in Washington County on November 26, 1801, by Rev. N. Reagan.38 That same year, Joseph Pendleton served as a private in the 70th Regiment of Virginia Militia from Washington County.39
ii. William, born circa 1790. He served as a private in the Washington County Militia in 1809 and 1812.40 William was enumerated in the 1830 Census of Washington County aged 30 to 40, with 1 male aged 15 to 20, 2 females aged 10 to 15 and 1 female aged 30 to 40. But, no further record of him has been found in Washington County.
4. iii. Andrew, born circa 1794.
Apparently, Daniel left Washington County soon after the death of his first wife, Elizabeth. It seems likely that he moved to Russell County, where he married Susanna Jackson on March 18, 1807, just two weeks before he deeded his lands in Washington County to his son and son-in-law.41 Daniel appears in Russell County on the 1810 personal property tax list with one poll, no slaves, and one horse.42 He returned to Washington County by 1820, where he was enumerated in the census with a wife, both over 45 years of age. But, where were their children? Was the responsibility of rearing two young sons just too daunting a task for the 81 year old veteran? If so, he may have apprenticed his sons to a younger man in order for them to learn a trade. Daniel and Susan may have been missed by the census taker or have resided in another household in 1830, as they were not separately enumerated in the census that year.
The children of Daniel and Susannah Riley were:
5. i. Thomas J., born circa 1812 in Russell County.
6. ii. Jackson, born circa 1815 in Russell County.
Undoubtedly Daniel Riley was an extraordinary man! He was 37 years old when he enlisted in the Virginia Line, yet served throughout the Revolution. The hardships of Valley Forge as well as the prison ship must have been especially difficult for a man of his age. But, his age at enlistment indicates that he may have had an entire family prior to the War. He was 46 years old when his eldest known daughter, Elizabeth, was born, 51 when his son William was born, and 55 when his son Andrew was born. After the death of his wife, he married again at the age of 68 years. Susannah was then 34 years old. Her age also hints at a previous marriage. Daniel was 73 years old when his son Thomas was born and 76 years old when his son Jackson was born. He must have been a hardy soul to have lived such a full and prolific life. Yet, so far as is known, he had no grandchildren named for him.
Daniel Riley died at his home in Washington County on March 4, 1837, leaving a widow he called Nancy.43 He made his will as follows:44
"I Daniel Riley do hereby make my last will and testament in manner and form following that is to say.
1 I desire that all my perishable property or so much thereof as is necesfsary be sold after my decease and out of the proceeds thereof all my just debts and funeral expences be paid.
2stndly I give to my beloved wife Nancy Riley my mansion house and furniture and forty acres of land on which my house stands during her life and at her decease to descend to my Grand Daughter Nancy Pepin to be enjoyed by her heirs forever. I also give to my wife Nancy Riley one hundred dollars out of my pension money if there is that amount on hand at my death.
And lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint my friend William Dunn executor of this my last Will and Testament hereby revoking all other or former Wills or testaments by me heretofore made
one other clause in this will omitted where it ought to have been mamed I give to my son Thomas Riley what money may be remaining unpaid by him to me for one hundred acres of land I sold him over the river against where I live at five dollars per acre. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 22nd day of February 1835."
(by his mark)
At a court held for Washington County the 27 day of March 1837.
The will is especially interesting in at least three regards. First, the widow Nancy sold to James White, on February 22, 1835 for $20 the 40 acre tract on the north fork of the Holston River that was devised by will from her late husband.45 She sold the land where they lived on the same day that Daniel made his will! Not only did she sell her inheritance prior to Daniel's death, but she was devised only a life interest in the property. The house and land were to have been given to Nancy Pepin after the widow's death. Second, Daniel apparently sold a 100 acre tract to his son, Thomas. However, no record of that sale to Thomas nor to any subsequent sale by Thomas has been found. Also interesting is the fact that no other documents were filed with the County Court concerning the administration of the estate in spite of the fact that Daniel's estate was credited with paying the property taxes on 146 acres through at least 1850. And third, who was Nancy Pepin and what became of her? In order to inherit real estate, she must have been an adult when Daniel wrote his will. On October 19, 1849, William Pippen, Sarah Pippen, Joseph Pippen, Daniel R. Pippen, and Margaret Pippen all of Washington County, sold to Ota H. Ward for $20 the lands devised by Daniel Riley to their mother Nancy Pippen also her interest in the lands she inherited from her father Joseph Pendleton.46 No further records have been found that shed any light on the identity of Nancy's husband nor the death of her parents.
Susannah Riley was the sole heir of John Woods, who died in Russell County in 1847.47 She received a bay mare, 2 horses, 10 sheep, and all of his worldly possessions. Witnesses to the will were John Wallis, Isaac Griffin, and Richard Jackson. He was likely the same John Wood who purchased land from John Riley in 1802. John Woods, aged 70 to 80, was enumerated in the 1840 Census of Russell County with one female also aged 70 to 80. Could Susannah have been living with John Woods in 1840? He was likely somehow related to the Riley's, possibly Susannah's brother-in-law. It is frustrating that the extant records do not reveal more. Neither Susan nor her two sons have been found in the 1840 Census in Virginia. Nor has Susan been found in the 1850 Census anywhere.
According to Russell County Death Records, Susan Riley died of pneumonia on October 10, 1853, aged 80 years.48 She was buried in the old Riley family cemetery located just west of Honaker. Her tombstone indicates that Susan Riley, wife of Daniel Riley, died October 7, 1853, aged 75 years. After her death, the Russell County Court certified that she was the widow of Daniel Riley.49 Thomas J. and Jackson Riley were the only heirs of Susannah Riley. And, the Court further certified that Susan Riley died on October 7, 1853, that her maiden name was Jackson, and that Daniel had died on March 5, 1837.50 Thomas J. Riley produced the family bible in Court and filed the following declaration in order to obtain the pension benefits in right of his mother.51
"I Thomas J. Rylie heir at law of Susan, widow of Daniel Rylie dec, a pensioner of the United States, do upon oath testify & declare that my father, Daniel Rylie, was a pensioner of the United States at the rate, as I am informed, of Eighty dollars a year. that he died in the County of Washington, as well as I can remember in March 1838. that his widow (my mother) died the 7dth of October 1853 in the County of Russell, she having survived her husband, Daniel Rylie. that said Susan never claimed or received pension in right of her said husband. that the said Daniel & Susan were married in Russell County on the 18th day of March 1807. that Thomas J. Rylie claims pension in right of his mother, Susan, under the Act of Congress passed in 1836. that the said claim for pension has not been transfered in any manner whatsoever."
Thos J Rylie
The slight discrepancy in Susan's date of death can be explained only as an error of one of the court clerks, as her son Thomas, with family bible in hand, was the source of both records. The pension file also includes a certified copy from the County Clerk's Office of the marriage license record of Daniel Riley to Susanna Jackson. However, on February 18, 1824, Beals Davis and Margaret his wife of Lee County, Susannah Wriley and Martha Duty of Russell County, all heirs of Isaac Roman, deceased, sold for $15 to Richard Roman the tract on the waters of Thompson's Creek in the upper part of the old tract of William Roman deceased.52 Susannah was the daughter of William Roman (ca1755-1795) and his wife Margaret of Russell County. If she were the widow of Daniel Riley, then her maiden name was Roman, not Jackson. Thus, Susannah Roman, born circa 1773, first married a Jackson, was widowed, and then married Daniel Riley in 1807. The timing seems plausible. But her son, Thomas J. Riley, produced the family bible in court and had recorded that Susannah's maiden name was Jackson. This fact was sworn to in open court by Richard Ferrell and William Horton, Sr., both of whom claimed to be well acquainted with the widow. From the marriage record it is certain that at least she was a Jackson at the time she married Daniel Riley. But, could Thomas have simply not known or not remembered that his mother had been previously married? After all, nearly fifty years had passed. Could he have purposely concealed the fact in order not to cloud his claim for his mother's pension money? If her maiden name was Roman, then why did she name a son Jackson?
2. John Riley moved further down the Holston River and took up 200 acres of land in what was then Washington County, Tennessee on March 30, 1778.53 On November 10, 1784, the State of North Carolina granted to John Riley 200 acres of land on Indian Creek, including the plantation formerly occupied by William Ashurt.54 John Riley purchased a second grant from the State of North Carolina for 200 acres of land on both sides of Indian Creek, a branch of the Holston River, on July 29, 1793.55 In 1784, John paid 10 pounds per 100 acres for his grant. Nine years later, he paid only 50 shillings per 100 acres. On December 10, 1794, John Riley sold one of his 200 acre tracts located on the waters of the Holston River on both sides of Indian Creek for 50 pounds to John Hughes.56 Then, on March 4, 1800, John Riley sold his remaining tract of 200 acres located on the south side of the Holston River on waters of Indian Creek to Andrew Riley for $1000.57 There were at least two men named Andrew Riley. One was the son of Daniel and one was the son of John. As a result of a suit against John Riley, the Sullivan County Sheriff Frances Gaines sold at public auction a 200 acre tract on Indian Creek with improvements to John Fagan for $21.58 For such a small price, the sheriff's sale must surely not have included the 200 acre tract. In any event, Andrew sold a 200 acre tract on Indian Creek for $540 to William Scott on February 19, 1807.59 Andrew Riley and James B. Riley, sons and heirs of John Riley deceased, sold to John Rhea on June 13, 1821 on behalf of their sisters and other heirs the 209 acre tract in Carter County (formerly Sullivan County) on the south side of the Holston River on southeast branch of Indian Creek for $200.60 The tract contained 209 acres "pursuant to a patent grant issued to John Rhea by the State of North Carolina one undivided 1/3 part conveyed to John Riley now deceased."
Soon after the Revolutionary War, on June 24, 1783, another John Riley received from the State of Virginia Bounty Land Warrant No. 1101 for 200 acres as partial payment for his military service.61 The land was located in Kentucky. Whether or not this John Riley may have been related is not known. At least several men named John Riley served Virginia during the Revolution. One of them served in Captain Robert Vance's Company in the 13th Virginia Regiment. Five of the companies in the regiment served with Muhlenberg's brigade in the northern campaigns, while the remaining five were stationed at Fort Pitt and Fort Randolph at Point Pleasant.62 According to an affidavit filed by Captain Robert Vance, this John Riley had died by 1806.63 More research is needed to properly identify and separate all of the men named John Riley.
3. Patrick may have simply found it too difficult to extract a living from his lands along Moccasin Creek or a pang of wanderlust again may have struck his heart. In any event, he left Russell County circa 1800. For, on February 23, 1801, Patrick and Catherine Riley of Montgomery County, Kentucky sold to James Tate of Russell County for $250 the 120 acre tract lying on Mockeson Creek, undoubtedly the same tract that he had obtained by warrant in 1786.64 While Patrick signed the deed with his mark, his wife Catherine was not mentioned. Neither did she release her dower rights. Perhaps she had died by 1801 or perhaps she simply did not accompany her husband on the long journey back to Russell County from their new home in Kentucky. Even more interesting is the fact that the deed was witnessed by a William Riley, who signed with his mark but did not prove the deed in court. On February 27, 1798, Patrick Ryley and his wife Catherine of Russell County sold to Isaiah Sallyer for 40 pounds a certain 107 acre tract lying on both sides of Coper Creek.65 Both Patrick and Catherine signed their names to the deed. But it is interesting to note that the deed was not witnessed. In addition, no record has been found of Patrick ever having obtained the tract on Copper Creek. Neither has any record been found of him disposing of the 42 acre tract surveyed in 1793.
At the November 1795 Term, William Riley, Patrick Riley, Stephen Miller, and George Miller appeared before the Russell County Court in order to be discharged from a recognizance bond for good behavior towards William Dawson.66 And, at the April 1797 Term of the Court, Patrick Riley, William Riley, Allen Riley, and James Riley appeared in order to be discharged from a recognizance bond for good behavior towards William Dawson. The exact nature of the dispute between the Riley men and William Dawson is not clear from the records. Evidently, the feud culminated in Dawson charging trespass against Patrick Riley, William Riley, Allen Riley, Patrick Riley, Jr., Zachariah Salliers, and Joseph Piercefield which was heard at the June 1798 Term of the Court.67 The defendants, except Zachariah Salliers, were found guilty and ordered to pay damages. Perhaps the litigation was one impetus for Patrick to leave Russell County.
From all of the foregoing, it is assumed that John, William, Allen, James, and Patrick, Jr. were all sons of Patrick Riley, who appears on the extant tax lists of Russell County for the years 1787, 1788, 1789, 1790, 1792, 1794, 1795, 1796, 1797, 1798, and 1799, but not thereafter.68 However, he is listed with one additional tithable, presumably a son, in 1790 and 1792. He is listed with two additional tithables in 1795 and, again with one additional tithable in 1796, 1797, and 1798. John Riley appears on the tax lists continuously each year from 1792 through 1800, inclusive. William Riley appears on the 1796, 1797, and 1798 tax lists. Allen Riley appears on the 1797, 1798, 1799, 1800, and 1802. In 1810, Allen was taxed for one poll and 14 horses (a not inconsiderable sum in those days), but with no slaves. It should be noted that Allen also appears on the 1796 personal property tax list of Lee County.69 No others named Riley appear there for any years between 1795 and 1803. And finally, James Riley appears on the 1799 and 1800 Russell County tax lists. The tax lists seem to corroborate the assumption that these men were all sons of Patrick Riley.
Patrick, Sr. next appears on the Clay County, Kentucky tax list of 1807, with sons James and Patrick, Jr.70 Also that same year, Patrick, Sr. recorded a deed of gift to his son, Zachariah, for "...all his goods in his present dwelling house: two cows, three two-year old heifers, two yearlings and three calves, one horse beast, two feather beds and furniture, one half dozen puter plates, one large puter dish and two barons, thirty head of hogs, two pots and one oven, and the present crop of corn as it now stands."71 Contrary to the implications of his punctuation, surely Patrick kept neither his livestock nor his corn crop in his dwelling house!
By the following year, Patrick, Sr. paid the property taxes for a 100 acre tract on the waters of the middle fork of the Kentucky River, but not thereafter. It is curious that no deeds concerning this property were recorded. Patrick, Sr. was granted a 50 acre tract on the middle fork for which he began to pay taxes in 1820. He also paid taxes on the property for 1821 and 1823, after which he no longer appears on the tax rolls. Beginning in 1824, Patrick, with no designation of Sr. or Jr., paid the taxes on both tracts as well as a third 25 acre tract on Longs Creek.
Apparently, Patrick, Sr. died intestate by 1824 and a dispute arose concerning the disposition of his estate. For, in 1828, Zachariah Riley sold a tract of land to John Turner for $200.72 The tract was located adjacent to Patrick, Jr. along the middle fork of the Kentucky River. Zachariah felt compelled to include in the deed his pledge to defend the title against any claim by the heirs of Patrick, Sr. Unfortunately, the deed does not provide any further details concerning the estate of Patrick, Sr. Either no dispute arose or Zachariah successfully defended any adverse claims, as the new owner subsequently sold the tract to Alexander Harrald, a Justice of the Peace for Clay County.73 Even though he had presumably been paying the taxes on the land, Patrick, Jr. had no claims on the property as he witnessed the deed of sale.
Both Patrick, Sr. and his wife, Catherine, were listed as over 45 years old in the 1810 and 1820 Censuses of Clay County. Neither were enumerated there in 1830. The children of Patrick and Catherine Riley were:
i. John, born circa 1770. A farmer with real estate valued at $4200, he was enumerated in the 1850 Census of Hancock County, Tennessee. John, aged 80, was born in Virginia and his wife, Anna, aged 65, was born in North Carolina.
ii. Allen, born circa 1771. On July 11, 1800, Allen Riley bought from George Miller late of Russell County for $100 current money 80 acres on the west side of Molls Creek a branch of Copper Creek.74 His brother, John Riley, witnessed the deed. On February 1, 1808, Allen Riley purchased from Nancy Mahan for 230 pounds current money of Virginia 130 acres lying on the south side of Big Mockerson Creek a north branch of the north fork of the Holston River.75 Allen added to his land holdings in Russell County by purchasing, on February 6, 1810, from John and Nancy Wood for $500 the same 170 acre tract located on Big Mockerson Creek that had previously passed from Walter Preston to Patrick Riley, then to John Riley, and thereafter to John Wood.76 On October 19, 1826, Allen Riley of Scott County and his wife Margaret for $133 current money sold to Jonathan Salyer of Russell County 80 acres on the west side of Molls Creek previously purchased from George Miller in 1800.77 Allen signed his name, while his wife Margaret made her mark. No witnesses to the deed were recorded. And finally, on January 9, 1830, Allen Riley sold to Benjamin Fugate 43 acres on the south side of Mockenson Creek for $400.78 Both Allen and his wife Peggy signed their names to the deed. But, no witnesses were recorded.
The land where Allen lived became part of Scott County in 1815, although a portion of the property remained in Russell County. He and his wife, Margaret, were enumerated in the 1820, 1830, and 1840 Censuses of Scott County. In 1826, Allen Riley of Scott County conveyed to Andrew S. Fullin of Washington County the 170 acre tract on Big Mocquison Creek that he had purchased from John and Nancy Wood in 1810.79 Allen owed $172.13 to Robert Dickenson and posted the tract as security for the debt. A laborer at the age of 79, Allen was living in Hancock County, Tennessee in the home of Hiram V. Riley, aged 30, at the time of the 1850 Census. In 1851, Allen Riley of Hancock County, Tennessee sold for $3200 his 253 acre property on Big Mocasin Creek in Scott and Russell Counties adjacent to the land purchased from John Wood.80
iii. William, born circa 1774.
iv. James, born circa 1778. He first appears in the Clay County, Kentucky tax lists in 1807 with no real estate but 3 horses. He apparently dealt in hoses, paying taxes on 6 head in 1809, 7 head in 1811, 8 head in 1814, and 9 head in 1815. James does not appear in the tax lists after 1820.
v. Patrick, Jr., born circa 1779. He purchased a 90 acre tract from John Smith for $200 in 1813.81 Patrick, Jr. paid taxes on that tract from 1813 through the year 1830. By 1824, he obtained a land grant for and began to pay taxes on a 25 acre tract on Long's Creek. Early in 1824, William Strong, Patrick Riley, Jr., James Pennington, and Edward Turner were appointed by the County Court to lay out a new road "from opposite the mouth of Canoe fork up the river and Long's Creek to Patrick Riley's mill."82 In 1825 and 1828, Patrick paid taxes on 50 acres of land on Long's Creek. Late in 1828, he and Samuel Johnson sold 25 acres to James Johnston for $150.83 T he parcel was part of a 50 acre survey on Long's Creek previously granted to the two men. James Johnston obtained a license to marry Judy Riley on May 8, 1820 and, thus, was probably Patrick's son-in-law.84
In 1828, 1829, and 1830, Patrick paid property taxes on three tracts, all on the waters of the middle fork: the 95 acre tract purchased from John Smith, the 50 acre tract granted with Samuel Johnston, and a 10 acre tract that had been granted to him alone. Including the mill, his total land holdings amounted to some 155 acres. In late 1830, Patrick and his wife, Nancy, conveyed 160 acres to Menitree Pennington for $500.85 Earlier that same year, Patrick Riley joined his partners, Samuel and James Johnson, in selling their entire interest in the remaining 40 acre portion of the 50 acre mill property to Thomas Johnson for $200.86 Evidently, Patrick Riley left Clay County soon thereafter, as no further record of him has been found.
vi. Zachariah, born circa 1780. He married Mary Gibson in Clay County on March 6, 1812, just one year after he first appears in the tax lists.87 He began to pay taxes on a grant of 50 acres on the middle fork in 1823. After paying taxes on that land in 1824, no further record of him has been found.