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Ancestry of James Whitcomb Riley-my ancestor


Andrew A. Riley, Irish grandfather of James Whitcomb

Riley, was born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania in a Deutsch

speaking community. Andrew's parents were Rebecca Harvey,

born July 11, 1769 in England who died in Montgomery County,

Ohio on Sept. 7, 1849, and James (or John "William") Riley

born 1752 in Torsnagh, Cork, Ireland who died in Bedford,

Pennsylvania before 1820. The source of this pedigree is

listed in the acknowledgements. James Riley had married

Rebecca Harvey about 1775 at Reading Berks, Pennsylvania.

Andrew was the second child. The firstborn was Samuel

Riley, born 1790. After Andrew came James Anderson Riley,

born 1796 who died in Nov. 1840; Isaac Riley, born about

1800; Henry Riley, born about 1803; George Washington Harvey

Riley, born Dec. 19, 1807 who died May 22, 1868; Sarah Riley,

born about 1810 in Pennsylvania who married George Roudebush;

and Mary Ann Riley, born 1813 who died in 1887.

Andrew's wife, Margaret Slick, was the daughter of John

Slick born about 1769, the son of Philip Slick born about

1740 in Germany, and Elizabeth Wilson. Andrew A. Riley and

Margaret Slick were married in Bedford, Pennsylvania, but the

Family Bible gives no date. It must have been around 1820

since they started West soon after that date. They stopped

first near Cincinnati, Ohio and then at Richmond and finally

located on a farm a short distance southeast of Windsor in

the western part of Randolph county on what was later known

as the Joshua Swingley farm, with Andrew remaining there and

running a tavern until the time of his death about November

29, 1840. He was also the local justice of peace for Stoney

Creek Township until 1837 according to the bond records of

the county. The farm was on a knoll along Stoney Creek.

Coming to frontier Indiana was a daring family trip. During

the 400 mile journey from Pennsylvania, Andrew sold all of

his belongings for $30 except a horse, a "carry-all" and some

clothing. He and his older sons walked while the mother and

daughters rode in the wagon. Reuben Riley was one of those

sons who walked. He was the fifth in a family of 14 children.

During this westward trek, the family lived in the open,

building campfires in the woods at night. In the Allegheny

foothills, their fare was slight. When they reached Randolph

County, Indiana, they were able to find a bounty of food from

wild deer, black bear, squirrels, wild turnkey and wild

vegetables growing along Stoney Creek.

Andrew and Margaret had the following children: Sarah

Ann Riley, born about 1815 who married Tom D. Shepherd; Job

Harvey Riley, born about 1816; John Sleek Riley (Dr.) born

Dec. 12, 1817; Reuben (the poet's father) born June 2, 1819;

Andrew Pinckney Riley, born 1820 who married Elizabeth Cline;

James Anderson Riley born about 1821; George Washington

Harvey Riley born about 1823 who married Emma C. Nex; Joseph

Sleek Riley, born about 1824; Benjamin Frank Riley born about

1826 who married Elizabeth Patterson; and Martin Whitten

Riley born about 1828 who married Elizabeth Dodson.

Andrew's agricultural labor produced large crops and one

winter it is said he helped save a tribe of starving Miami

Indians by loading their ponies with corn. In another time of

scarcity, a stockman offered him 75 cents a bushel for his

corn, but he chose to sell it to needy neighbors for 25 cents

a bushel. Shortly before his death, Andrew said, "I have

never intentionally wronged any man. I have not been vulgar

or profane. I have tried to do right. I do not fear to die."

Not all Hoosiers could say the same.

Reuben Riley reached Hancock County, Indiana, within

a few scant years of the departure of the last native

Americans from Indiana. Many were wrenched away in a horrible

episode in Indiana history. The last of the Potawatomi, those

who had not accepted "white folks ways" or left before were

rounded up and removed by the county militiamen of Indiana

called up to state service for that purpose by the Governor

in 1838.

These native Americans were forced to take the infamous

"Trail of Death" out of Indiana during September of that


A militia officer, General Tipton, was placed in

charge of the roundup of the Hoosier Indians. Many tried

to escape into the woods but were arrested and made

prisoners. Indian children were left in the woods by parents

in the hope that they, at least, might be able to stay in the

native lands if they could survive. Many stories exist of

such children being adopted by "white European" families when

they were discovered.

No sad story stopped General Tipton. He was not cruel

but he knew what the Hoosier Governor's orders were and that

was to round up the remaining Indians and get them out of the

state. Here is an excerpt of one of his written accounts,

"Many of the Indian men were assembled near the chapel when

we arrived, and were not permitted to leave camp or separate

until matters were amicably settled and they had agreed to

give peaceable possession of the land sold by them." If

Indians had weapons, these were taken away.

Squads of militia fanned out to collect the remnants of

the tribes who had refused to move out of Indiana by that


By September, Tipton had gathered the last 859 which

contained many old people and young. One of the Catholic

missionaries, Father Petit, who had lived with the tribes

describes his final Christian worship service since he was

not permitted to go on the Trail of Death. "At the moment of

my departure I assembled all my children to speak to them for

the last time. I wept, and my auditors sobbed aloud. It was

indeed a heartrending sight, and over our dying mission we

prayed for the success of those on their way to the new

hunting grounds. We then with one accord say, `O Virgin, we

place our confidence in thee.' It was often interrupted and

but few could finish it. After the Indians were sequestered,

the soldiers were under orders to burn and destroy the huts

and cabins of the Indians to erase temptation to return to


When the Indian march order was given on the early

morning of September 4th. The weather was very hot and dry.

The ordinary sources of water were dried up by then and

malaria started infecting the Indians because water supplies

were stagnant. The native Americans were marched single file

on foot to cross Indiana, Illinois and the Mississippi. Few

made it. Even by the time they reached the pioneer

settlement at Logansport many died. Their camp there was

described as "a scene of desolation; on all sides were the

sick and dying." The militiamen too were getting sick and

many were permitted to return to their homes. The few Indians

with Indian ponies were compelled to give them up for these

departing militiamen to return to their families.

On the way through the Wabash Valley, the suffering

increased so much that General Tipton relented and allowed

the Indians to call for Father Petit to come to them. Despite

his own delicate health the good father went and says, "On

Sunday, September 16, I came in sight of my poor Christians,

marching in a line, and guarded on both sides by soldiers who

hastened their steps. A burning sun poured its beams upon

them, and they were enveloped in a thick cloud of dust.

After them came the baggage wagons into which were crowded

the many sick, the women and children who were too feeble to

walk... Almost all the babies, exhausted by the heat, were

dead or dying. I baptized several newly-born happy little

ones, whose first step was from the land of exile to heaven."

Soon the militiamen tired of walking and chose to ride in the

baggage wagons forcing the Indian women and children out to

walk and die all the quicker.

Many stories remain. There is one of a hundred year old

Indian woman, the mother of a Chieftain, who pleaded with her

tribe to put her to death in Indiana. She knew she had no

hopes of surviving a long trek and wished to be buried in the

land of her ancestry. The tribe refused the old woman's wish

to kill her. She was buried along the trail four days later.

Not a single baby made the trip.

The Hoosier people live with the memories of their

history. These memories mix with those of the settlers

like Andrew Riley who came to Hoosier forests.

There are no records of Andrew's death in the Family

Bible and his date of death in 1840 is derived from the

records in the Randolph County probate court records of that

date. A Dr. Dynes was the attending physician during Andrew

Riley's last illness. Dr. Dynes made daily calls for some

days prior to November 20, 1840. His itemized claim filed

against the estate shows a charge each day up to and

including November 19th for a call and medicine left. On the

20th day a charge is made for just the call - no medicine.

This was the doctor's last call so Andrew probably didn't

need the doctor anymore. Andrew Riley was buried on the farm

where he lived.

In the probate court order book of Randolph County, vol.

2, page 139 is this entry:

"Be it remembered that on the fifteenth day of December

in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and

forty; letters of administration of all and singular the

goods and chattels, rights, credits, monies and effects which

were of Andrew Riley late of Randolph County in the State of

Indiana, deceased, was granted by George W. Monks, clerk of

the probate court in and for said county to Reuben A. Riley,

he, the said Reuben A. Riley, having first filed bond in the

sum of fifteen hundred dollars with Lewis Remmel and Smoot

securities and he was duly affirmed as such administrator."

Reuben Riley's authority to handle his father's estate

was later revoked by this entry:

"In the matter of Reuben A, Riley, administrator of the

estate of Andrew Riley, deceased. It appearing to the

satisfaction of the court, from the affidavit of Margaret

Way, late Margaret Riley, widow and relict of said Andrew

Riley, that the said Reuben A. Riley has emigrated to and is

now a citizen of Iowa Territory. It is ordered and adjudged

by the court that the letters of administration heretofore

granted by the clerk of this court to the said Reuben A.

Riley, on the estate of said deceased, be and the same are

hereby revoked and nulled and made void. Whereon on

application of the said Margaret, it is further ordered by

the court that administration de bonis non of said estate is

hereby committed to Thomas W. Reece, and thereupon said

Thomas W. Reece appears in open court and accepts said

appointment and files bond in the sum of twelve hundred

dollars, with William Dickson and George W. Smithson as his


What became of Margaret?

Margaret (Slick) Riley remained Andrew's widow for only

about a year and a half and then in March 1842 she married

Thomas Way. Little is known about this arrangement.

Eventually Margaret moved from the Windsor neighborhood to

Greenfield, Indiana, as a single woman, and lived near her

son Reuben Riley until 1868. She died October 3, 1884 at the

home of her son Dr. A.J. Riley in Muncie. The funeral notices

were sent out under the name of Margaret Riley. The notice

read: "Mrs. Margaret Riley was born in Bedford County, Pa.

October 23rd, 1793, died at the home of her son, Dr. A.J.

Riley in Muncie, Indiana, Monday evening, Oct. 3rd, 1884,

aged 87 years, 11 months, and 10 days. Her funeral will take

place tomorrow, Wednesday, October 5th at the grave yard near

Windsor, Randolph County, at 2 o'clock P.M. The funeral

cortege leaving Muncie at 8 o'clock A.M. The funeral

services will be conducted by Rev. F.D. Simpson. The friends

of the family are invited." The dates have to be wrong

because if correct she died at 90.

The burial places of Andrew and Margaret Riley are in

the Clevenger Cemetery about a mile south of Windsor. The

exact spots are no longer locatable. The lettering of the

stones is mostly erased in this cemetery, vegetation has

overgrown it and most tombstones are broken or at least half-

buried. Windsor might well have become the birth home of

James Whitcomb Riley. Reuben Riley owned a lot there and was

licensed to practice law there in 1842 but Riley's stay was

short and he sold his lot in Windsor to Andrew West on August

18, 1842.

After his father's death, Reuben had gone to a prairie

village in Iowa, been admitted to the bar there, but had only

achieved a very limited practice. He subsequently returned

to Randolph County. He was tall, black eyed and considered to

be an eloquent debater.

Reuben Riley became re-acquainted with Elizabeth Marine

at a Fourth of July gathering in Neeley's Woods, near

Windsor, in 1843 after his return from Iowa. The occasion

was a grand barbecue of pigs, an ox and five lambs. Reuben

danced with Elizabeth and the two were said to have decided

to get married instantly.

Reuben Alexander Riley and Elizabeth (Marine) Riley,

parents of the poet, were married March 15, 1844 at Union

Port, Randolph county, by Rev. Thomas Leonard, minister of

the Methodist church. Elizabeth's brother Jonathan and Emily

Hunt stood up for the two. Elizabeth wore a pale pink silk

wedding dress with a long white veil and white kid gloves and

shoes. Her "in-fair" dress was of gray poplin, and she wore a

leghorn bonnet when she rode away with Reuben the next day.

They went immediately to Greenfield and occupied a log cabin.

The marriage license of Reuben A. Riley and Elizabeth Marine

was issued by the Clerk of the Randolph Circuit Court on the

18th of Feb. but they were not married until about a month

later, March 15, 1844.

Elizabeth Marine Riley's father was John Marine. In the

Riley family Bible she spells his last name M-E-R-I-N-E. John

Marine's father was Jonathan Marine and his mother was Mary

Charles who lived in the Carolinas. Mary Charles Marine died

in Wayne County, Indiana, and was buried in Randolph County.

Jonathan Marine was buried in the New Garden churchyard about

nine miles from Richmond. Mary Charles Marine lived to be

ninety-six years old.

Elizabeth was the tenth in a family of 11 children and

a descendent of persecuted French Huguenots and English

Quakers. She claimed birth in Rockingham, North Carolina in


Probably Reuben's first work was on his father's farm

and in his tavern. Reuben Riley became the school teacher in

the little one-room schoolhouse at the east end of Union Port

on the south side of the road. Soon after marriage the Rileys

went to Greenfield to Hancock county to make their future


Greenfield was at that time a little village of a few

scattered log houses with puncheon floors and oil paper

windows. Reuben Riley was said to have built the log cabin

and equipped it with furniture which he had made. The main

advantage of the site was that it was located on the

National Road that stretched from Cumberland, Maryland

across country to the trails to the Pacific Coast.

It was here in their original log cabin that their six

children were born. The Riley children were John Andrew

Riley, born Dec. 11, 1844 who married Julia Wilson and died

Dec. 11, 1911; Martha Celestia Riley, born Feb. 21, 1847;

James Whitcomb Riley, born Oct. 7, 1849 and died July 22,

1916 in Indianapolis, Indiana, Elva May Riley born Jan. 1856

and died in 1909 in Indianapolis, Indiana; Humboldt Alexander

Riley born Oct. 15, 1858 and died Nov., 1887; and Mary

Elizabeth Riley born Oct. 27, 1864 who married and divorced

Frank C. Payne and died in 1936.

There is speculation that James Whitcomb Riley's genius

came from John Marine, the probable father of Elizabeth and

an outstanding character in the early history of Randolph and

Delaware counties. John Marine loved poetry and, like his

famous grandson, was said to have written his autobiography

in rhyme. He also was said to write and write. He wrote a

book, now lost, on religion urging all Christians to unite.

He also wrote sermons in verse and delivered them to

Methodist camp meetings. None of these works survive. John

had lost his modest fortune speculating in weaver-sleighs two

years after Elizabeth's birth and came to Indiana.

James Whitcomb Riley was one of those many great men who

have been unusually fond of their mothers. There was the

artist Whistler whose most famous work was a portrait of his

mother. Then there was George Washington. No matter how far

his surveying took him from Virginia, he kept in touch with

Mary Washington. To this list, we must add James Whitcomb

Riley whose primary love was Elizabeth Marine Riley, his

lovely mother. His first poem was a valentine written to his


As a child, she had come in a one-horse buggy with her

parents the 700 miles from North Carolina to Indiana. They

came over the Cumberland Gap, the usual route through the

Allegheny Mountains. Then on through the endless forests

where all sorts of wild animals lurked. There were about 400

in their party which finally found its way to Randolph County

Indiana. The party found only wilderness without any

inhabitants or built up places or village.

After brief stops at New Garden and one or two points in

Wayne County, he settled with his family in Randolph County

and built a cabin on a high bank of the Mississinewa River a

few miles below Ridgeville and a mill nearby.

James Whitcomb Riley thought that his mother had led an

ideal life as a young person. The Marine cabin was on the

banks of a beautiful stream, called by an Indian name, the

Mississiniwa River. She had grown to become a beautiful

young woman. One of Elizabeth's interests was discovering

new things.

The Marines were flat boat builders, millers and poets.

John laid out the defunct town of Rockingham on the

Mississinewa and advertised lots in verse. It did no good.

The town failed to attract settlers.

John also was a preacher and teacher. He advocated the

union of all churches, a dangerous thing to do in those days.

He and the poet's grandmother, Margaret Riley, were leaders

in the camp meetings of Randolph and Delaware Counties.

William A. Thornburg, an elderly neighbor who remembered

the Marines living nearby, told Marcus Dickey, an early Riley

biographer, that "Elizabeth Marine was remarkably pure-

minded. I never saw anyone so beautiful in a calico dress.

She loved to wander along streams and wander in the green

woods. She was always seeing things among the leaves."

Elizabeth met Johnny Appleseed who planted apple cores among

the settlements and liked to listen to listen to his accounts

of his wanderings and his views on Christianity one of which

was that folk do not die but "go right on living."

Every boy has an early determination - a first one - to

follow some exciting profession, once he grows up to man's

estate, such as being a policemen or a performer on the high

trapeze. Riley was not interested in these nor in being

the "People's Laureate," but the Greenfield baker, had his

fairy godmother granted his "boy-wish."

Here is how Riley remembered his "wish" in his later



When little Dickie Swope's a man,

He's going to be a sailor;

And little Hamey Tincher, he's

A'going to be a Tailor;

Bud Mitchell, he's a'going to be

A stylish Carriage-Maker;

And when I grow a great big man

I'm going to be a Baker.

And Dick will buy his sailor-suit

Of Hame; and Hame will take it

And buy as fine a double rig

As ever Bud can make it;

And then all three'll drive round for me,

And we'll drive off together

Slinging pie-crust along the road

Forever and forever.

To Riley, running a bakery "seemed the acme of delight,"

using again his own expression. Happiness was "to manufacture

those snowy loaves of bread, those delicious tarts, those

toothsome bon-bons. And then to own them all, to keep them

in store, to watch over and guardedly exhibit. The thought of

getting money for them was to me a sacrilege. Sell them? No

indeed. Eat `em - eat `em, by tray loads and dray loads! It

was a great wonder to me why the pale-faced baker in our town

did not eat all his good things. This I determined to do

when I became owner of such a grand establishment. Yes, sir.

I would have a glorious feast. Maybe I'd have Tom and Harry

and perhaps little Kate and Florry in to help us once in a

while. The thought of these playmates as `grown up folks'

didn't appeal to me. I was but a child, with wide-open eyes,

a healthy appetite and a wondering mind. That was all. But

I have the same sweet tooth to-day, and every time I pass a

confectioner's shop, I think of the big baker of our town,

and Tom and Harry and the youngsters all."

5 comment(s), latest 8 years, 10 months ago

Descendants of John Kingsley and Nancy Thompson

Descendants of John Kingsley + Nancy Thompson?


I have a copy of an old genealogy list my grandmother made. The information is limited, with few dates or places, but I'm hoping someone out there can help me fill in the details, or find additional links. Anybody????

Also, if you're related to this line, I have scanned photos of John Kingsley, Nellie Kingsley, and Wilbur Young that I could forward to you.

My grandfather once told me that John Kingsley was a sailor on a whaling ship in the North Pacific. I don't know if that's true, but the photo I have of him shows him looking very dashing in what appears to be a sailor's outfit. On his hat, part of a word is visible: "Color-" Perhaps the name of his ship? Or his military unit? Or???

I'd appreciate any help anyone can give!!!

1. John Kingsley
+Nancy Thompson
2. Jim Kingsley
2. Nellie Kingsley
+Wilbur Young
3. Reta Townes Young
+Benjamin Franklin Graffam (b. 1889, Lynn, MA)
4. Otta Louise Graffam (b. 1909, Salem, MA)
+Hunter E. Chase (b. 1908)
5. Donald Clayton Chase (b. 1929)
5. Charles Chase
5. Nancy Lee Chase
4. Charles Albert Graffam (b. 1910, Salem, MA)
+Alice Murphy
5. Charles Graffam
5. Vickie Graffam
4. Wilbur Graffam
+Anne Marshall
5. William Graffam
5. Norman Graffam
5. Judith Graffam
4. Clayton Graffam
3. Otta Young
3. Ethel Young
2. Mary Kingsley
2. Julia Kingsley
+William Townes
2. George Kingsley
+Margaret (Unknown)
2. Arthur Kingsley
+Annie Conroy
3. Lillie Kingsley
+Ted Begley
4. Mabel Begley
4. Anna Begley
4. Nancy Begley
3. Harry Kingsley
3. Arthur Kingsley
+Alice (Unknown)
4. Arthur Kingsley
4. Henry Kingsley

2 comment(s), latest 11 years ago

Kinkel Family-Immigrated from Germany

1. August Kinkel, b. circa 1800

2. August Kinkel, b. circa 1821, m. Caroline Schroeder

3. William M. Kinkel, b.

4. William A. Kinkel, b. 1898, m. Gertrude Mabel Stevens, b. 1905

5. Beryl Joanne Kinkel, b. 1935, m. Arthur James Kingsley, b. 1938

6. Rene M. Kingsley, b. 1961

7. Jennifer Moore, b. 1978

8. Richard M. Elam, B. 1997

The first August Kinkel entered here was born in Germany, married in Germany and died in Germany.

The second August Kinkel was born in Falkenberg, Germany, married Caroline Schroeder from Mecklenburg, Germany, had I believe 3-4 children in Germany before immigrating to the United States in 1854. He came here alone and wife and children immigrated afterward at a later late. Upon arriving in USA, from New York traveled to Watertown, Wisconsin, and then on to LeSueur, Minnesota, they had nine children in all.

Will add more later.

Looking for my Kingsley Family

I am doing research on my Kingsley family. I am Rene M Kingsley, b.1961, Minneapolis, Minnesota. My parents are Arthur James Kingsley, b. 1938, Riverside, California, d. 2006, Mesa, Arizona, and Beryl Joanne Kinkel, b. 1935, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Grandfather: Harry James Kingsley b. 1906, Wisconsin
Grandmother: Florence Ethel Kay Kingsbury, b. 1914, California

I am trying to find out who Harry's father and mother were and so on..

Any one with any information, please feel free to message me. Thank you in advance.

1 comment(s), latest 11 years, 10 months ago