Biography of William E. Riley

William E. Riley, born on September 3, 1867, in Bridgewater Township, Williams County, Ohio, is a prominent grain business owner in Montpelier. Son of Alfred and Eliza (Kollar) Riley, William took over the family farm at 21 before moving to Montpelier in 1895 to engage in the grain business, eventually becoming the sole owner of Riley & Son. Married to Eva Bailey on November 1, 1891, they have a daughter, Thelma. Active in the Knights of Pythias and a former village council member, William is respected for his integrity and business acumen.

William E. Riley, of Montpelier, is a man whose life has become an essential part of the history of this section and he has exerted a beneficial influence in the locality honored by his citizenship. His chief characteristics seem to be fidelity of purpose, keenness of perception, unswerving integrity and sound common sense, which have earned for him the esteem of the entire community. Mr. Riley was born in Bridgewater Township, Williams County, on September 3, 1867, and is a son of Alfred and Eliza (Kollar) Riley. His parents were both natives of Ohio, they having been born in Darke County. They came to Williams County with their respective parents, and after their marriage they first located in Superior Township, later moving to Bridgewater Township, and finally to Montpelier, where they spent the remainder of their lives and there died. They were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Politically, Alfred Riley gave his support to the republican party, being active in local public affairs, and served six years as a member of the Board of County Commissioners of Williams County. During the Civil war he served in the Union army and was afterwards a member of Hiram Lowden Post No. 155, Grand Army of the Republic. He was also affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. To him and his wife were born six children, of whom four are now living, namely: Lenora, the wife of G. B. Williams, of Bridgewater Township; Lydia, wife of August Biggie; William E., the subject of this sketch, and Cora, the wife of Charles Farlee, of Montpelier.

William E. Riley remained on the home farm with his parents until he had attained his majority, and during his boyhood he attended the district schools. From the age of twenty-one he assumed the operation of the home farm, to which he gave his attention until the spring of 1895, when he came to Montpelier and engaged in the grain business under the firm name of Riley & Pew. At the end of a year he purchased Mr. Pew’s interest in the business, the firm name being then changed to Riley & Son, the subject’s father being the senior member of the firm. Two years later the latter died and William E. then became the sole owner of the business, to which he has devoted his attention continuously since, the Riley elevator being one of the best known elevators in this section of the county. By strict attention to business and fair dealings with his patrons, Mr. Riley has not only built up a good business, but he has also gained an enviable reputation as a man of integrity and sound business qualities.

On November 1, 1891, Mr. Riley was married to Eva Bailey, who was born and reared in Bridgewater Township, where she attended the district schools. They are the parents of a daughter, Thelma, born in 1904, who is now a student in the Montpelier High School.

Fraternally. Mr. Riley is a member of Lodge No. 269, Knights of Pythias, of which he is a past chancellor, and is also a member of the grand lodge. Mrs. Riley is a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and the Pythian Sisters. Politically, Mr. Riley is an earnest supporter of the republican party and has served for six years as a member of the village council. Strong and forceful in his relations with his fellowmen, he has not only made his presence felt, but has also gained the good will and commendation of all who know him.

Source: Bowersox, Charles A. ed. A standard history of Williams County, Ohio: an authentic narrative of the past, with particular attention to the modern era in the commercial, industrial, educational, civic and social development , 2 vols. Publisher Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co. 1920.

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