An American Family History

Riley Family


The Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia borders Maryland and Virginia. The first European settlers started arriving about 1730.

  also spelled Reily, Reiley

The New River flows through North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia .In 1755, Mary Draper Ingles (1732-1815) was captured by Shawnee warriors near Blacksburg and taken to Ohio. She escaped and made her way home by following the Ohio, Kanawha, and New Rivers.

James Riley was born on June 15, 1755 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

He was a private during the American Revolution. He enlisted in 1776 in Chester County, Pennsylvania in the Fifth Regiment. He was in the Battle of Long Island, at Valley Forge, and was in the battles of Eutaw Springs, Guilford, and Hanging Rock. He was shot in the ankle and his thumb was severed by a sword.

After the Revolution, James moved to Jefferson County, Virginia which is now Jefferson County, West Virginia.

He married Temperance Yerkes (Nancy Yercus, Yircus, Yearkes).

James and Temperance's children may have included:

Joshua Riley (1786, married Sarah),
Mary Ann Riley (1788, married Jacob Gonder),
Rebecca Riley (1792, married Daniel Bishop),
James Riley (1794, married Christina Fox),
Rosanna Riley (1797, married Daniel Gonder),
Grace Riley (1800, married John Elliot),
Henry C. Riley (1802, married Mary Timberman),
John Riley (1807), and
Eliza Ann Riley (1810, married Jonathan Fox).

At the time of the 1810 census, James was in Jefferson County. The household consisted of

a man and a woman over 45- James and Temperance about 55
a man and 2 women beween 16 & 25 - Joshua age 24, Mary age 22, Rebecca age 18
2 boys and girl between 10 & 15 - James age 16, ? boy , Rosanna age 12
3 boys and 2 girls under 10 - Grace age 10, Henry age 8, John age 3, Eliza - infant, boy

The family moved to Butler County, Ohio about 1821, which was 21 years before applying for his pension in 1832.

James Riley appeared on the pension list of 1835 in Butler County, Ohio.

He received his final payment in 1843.

Butler County, Ohio was established in 1803 from Hamilton and Ross Counties.



from History of Butler County, Ohio

James Riley is a native of Jefferson County, Virginia, where he was born on the 20th of April, 1794. He is the son of James Riley and Temperance Yircus. His father was in the Revolutionary War, and was a pensioner; he was also in the War of 1812. One of his sons was in the War of 1812.



The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) was between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the 13 colonies which became the newly formed United States.

Appalachia was the 18th century backcountry and many settlers were Scots-Irish. It includes southern New York, western Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia, West Virginia, eastern Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee and northern Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

The State of Ohio, Butler County
Court of Common Pleas
of the term July 9, 1832

On this third day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty two personally appeared before the honorable the Judges of the Court of common pleas in and for the county of Butler and State of Ohio

James Reily aged seventy seven years, a resident of the County of Butler aforesaid who being first duly sworn according to law, doth up on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress passed June seventh Eighteen Hundred and thirty two

That in the Spring of the year Seventeen hundred and seventy six, in Chester County, Pennsylvania he enlisted under Captain John Frost in the fifth Regiment under the command of Colonel Clappum of General Green's Brigade of the Pennsylvania Line on the Continental establishment in which company he served about six months.

Deponent was marched with the company as aforesaid under the command of said officers to oppose the British on Long Island in which battle deponent was engaged.

In their retreat after the battle on Long Island deponent was marched with the company as aforesaid to Valley Forge where they were encamped about two months when they took up their line of march for the south under General Green soon after which deponent left the service, completing the term of about six months as aforesaid.

Early in the spring of seventeen hundred and seventy seven deponent again entered the service in Captain Joseph Thomas Company of horse in the sixth Regiment of Light Horse under the command of Colonel John Lee, in the Pennsylvania Line and on the Continental Establishment as aforesaid stationed at Leesburgh Louden County Virginia.

Deponent was marched with said company to the south where he served in North Carolina and South Carolina during the war.

Deponent was engaged in the battle at Eutaw Springs Guilford and Hanging Rock and likewise in some seven or eight skirmishes with the enemy.

Deponents left ankle was badly fractured by a bullet during the battle at Eutaw Springs in consequence of which would deponent is frequently unable to labour, his ankle being at times still very painful.

Deponent also lost the thumb of his left hand during the battle of Guilford which thumb was severed from his hand by a broadsword while in close combat with the enemy in the company of light horse as aforesaid.

Deponent was in actual service during the war of the Revolution nearly six years till the army was disbanded where he received a written discharge signed by Colonel Lee at Charleston, South Carolina which discharge deponent has since lost.

Deponent has a written record of his age left by his father by which it appears that deponent was born on the fifteenth day of June Seventeen hundered and fifty five near Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.

Deponent removed from his residence after the war in Jefferson County, Virginia about twenty one years ago to Butler county, Ohio where he has since lived and where he now resides.

Deponent knows of no person by whom he can prove his service except his brother whom deponent believes to be living somewhere in the State of Ohio and by whom he hopes to prove the same if he can be found.

Deponent is well know to John Walker & David Fawset of Ottacry by whom he can prove his character for truth and veracity and his general reputation as a soldier of the Revolution.

He hereby relinquishes every claim to whatever to a pension or annuity except the present and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any state.

James (his mark) Reily

The State of Ohio, Butler County

Before me a Justice of the Peace in and for the County of Butler aforesaid came personally James Reily a resident of said County who has subscribed & sworn to me within declarations and that James Reily being duly sworn deponents and

said that the statement in the foregoing declarations that he served in the Regiment of col Lee of the Pennsylvania Line incorrect and was stated by a mistake deponent first ? teo his the Pennsylvania Line as he has stated in the foregoing declarations & he continued to serve Captain Frost in the Regiment of Colonel Clappum for the term of nine moths.

He then enlisted in the Legion of Colonel Lee of Virginia in the Company Commanded by Captain Rudolph for the term of three years.

Deponent served the term of three years in the company of Captain Rudolph in col. Lee's Legions in the Virginia Line on the Continental establishment His mistake respecting the state line to which deponent belonged was made by entering the name of the state after the declaration had been written and before it was sworn to in court.

There is also a mistake in the foregoing declarations in the Christian name of col. Lee which was Henry as deponent believes and not John as stated in the foregoing declarations.

Deponent by reason of do age and consequent loss of memory cannot state & swear positively to the precise length of his service but according to the best of his recollection he served not less than three years in the Regiment of col Lee in the Virginia Line on the Continental Establishment.

He also served six months in the company of John Frost in the Regiment of Col. Clappum. He also served six months in the militia of Virginia under the command of Captain Thomas and Captain Hugh Douglass.

Deponent knows of no person by whom he can prove his services further than he has already done and he knows of no desgy under by which he can prove his utalier as a soldier.

Deponent heard of one John Spitz father who served as a sergeant or some office in the company of Capt. Rudolph by Thomas he hopes to prove his service but when he reaches the place where he has resides he found that the Spritz father own has died two months before.

Deponent has other testimony of his service that is presented in the foregoing declarations & in this affidavit & he knows of no other testimony which he can obtain sworn to subscribers before me this 5th February1833.

James (his mark) Reily

The American Revolution was ended in 1783 when the Treaty of Paris was signed.

Guilford County, North Carolina was organized in 1771 from parts of Rowan and Orange Counties.
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©Roberta Tuller 2023
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