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Col. Robert S. Riley (Ret.) & His Books
Ditto Hardoin European Org O'Ferrall-Shaen Riley Shumate Woolfolk
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About the Author
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The Colonial Riley Families of the Tidewater Frontier (1635-1999)
by Col. Robert S. Riley (Ret.)
2014 Reprint
Volume 1 ISBN
6x9", Hardbound 2 volume set totaling 1,878 pages
(Volume 1 - 918, Volume 2 - 960)
Volumes not sold separately.


Books by Riley

The Colonial RILEY Families of the Tidewater Frontier (1635-1999)The earliest known Riley immigrants to the Chesapeake Bay Area were the three brothers - Garrett, Miles, and Thomas - who arrived in Northern Virginia in 1635. Many of the oldest, surviving Riley Colonial Records and Land Grants of Maryland and Virginia, which are dated in the late 1600s and early 1700s, pertain to these immigrants and their Descendants. Many early Colonial Rileys used Christian names taken from the Bible, such as Samuel, Pharoah, Jeremiah, and Eliphaz. Moreover, the early Rileys in Colonial America passed down many traditional given names used by the O'Reillys (Anglicised as Reyley or Riley) in Ireland, such as Brian (Briain), Farrell (Ferghail), Hugh (Aodh), John (Seaán), and Miles (Maolmordha). And, in Colonial days, many Rileys of the Tidewater Frontier were related and moved in and out of the Colonies now known as Maryland and Virginia. In addition to the three Rileys mentioned by name above, there were other Riley immigrants who came to Maryland and Virginia in the late 1600s and early 1700s. In this book, the writer discusses all known individuals of the early generations of eight different Riley lines from the time of arrival of their immigrants to approximately 1850. By 1850, all of these Riley lines had multiplied so greatly that tracing their Descendants to those living today is almost an impossible task. From 1850 to the present day, the writer discusses only his own branch of Rileys. Prior to this publication, such a comprehensive analysis of the early Riley families of Colonial Maryland and Virginia did not exist, and the writer believes that this project will be helpful to all persons, who claim descent from an early Riley family of the Tidewater Frontier and are interested in learning their Riley family history.

All book excerpts carry the original book Copyright - reprinted here with permission.



The reader will find the histories of the Riley Families presented in this book to be different in some respects from other genealogies. Immediately, he or she will note that one whole volume contains abstracts of official records, information from secondary sources, and factual data, relating to the families discussed. In writing these histories, the writer has striven for perfection in accuracy and completeness, as much as it is humanly possible within the limits of knowledge available to him, knowing some aspects of the final product will fall short of that goal. He attributes his desire and efforts for accuracy and attention to detail to two lessons learned in life. Firstly, having served a career in the United States Army and much of that time as an officer on higher level staffs, he has been trained to get the facts, to study and analyze all possible courses of action, and to select the one which provides the best solution of the problem. Secondly, having reviewed and read a lot of published genealogical material over the years, he has found that many researchers and compilers have taken considerable time and effort to publish their material only to discover they have failed to provide the essential details, such as citing the exact references from where they obtained their information or that the information provided was incomplete and required additional research and verification. Therefore, for the reader who expects an interesting, flowing narrative of an award winning novel, the writer wishes to state at the outset that his primary aim in writing this family history has been to provide a readable story based on original source documents taken from public records wherever possible to support his conclusions and not to rely too heavily on secondary source material. However, in those cases where the true facts have not survived in the form of recorded public documents, he has striven to analyze the problems of descent and to reach conclusions based on sound logic which he hopes will withstand the test of close scrutiny and doubt. Further, he has striven to provide proper references and to document them so that the reader will be spared the agony of having to verify the authenticity of his sources.

While a small boy and as a teenager growing up in Hardin County, Kentucky, the writer had the good fortune of having his maternal grandmother relate to him stories of his ancestors and from where they came. Consequently, upon entering adulthood, he knew the names of many of his maternal ancestors and could trace them back to the early 1800s without much difficulty. Beyond 1800, however, not much was known, but the challenge always remained to learn more about them. During a brief visit with his father in the mid-1970s while on a trip back to Kentucky, the writer engaged in a conversation initiated by his father about the Rileys and their kin who resided in Harrison County, Indiana, just a few miles to the North across the Ohio River. At that time, his father related what bits of information he knew about the families from whom he was descended. But it became soon apparent that only the older members of the family who had passed on knew the full story and that we had waited too long to show an interest. The writer realized that his father wished to know more about the families, particularly the Rileys, and resolved to himself that someday he must learn more about those families. Consequently, the writer has his father to thank for setting him on this course to write the history of the Riley family.

Commencing the research of his Riley family, the writer soon learned there were numerous Rileys in Kentucky and Indiana in the early 1800s. A thorough search of the 1810 Federal Census Records of Kentucky revealed many Rileys in many counties, and the task to identify and verify the correct family appeared nearly impossible. A review of the 1820 Federal Census Schedules of Indiana revealed a similar problem. Turning next to the 1850 Federal Census of Meade County, Kentucky, the writer learned that the place of birth recorded for his earliest known ancestor of that time, Henry S. Riley, was Maryland. This information was confirmed by the 1900 Federal Census for Hardin County, Kentucky, in which his great-grandfather listed his father's place of birth as Maryland. Interestingly, further research revealed that his ancestor was actually born in Kentucky and that most of the early Riley families in Kentucky and Southern Indiana had migrated to those states from Maryland or Virginia by way of the Carolinas or Tennessee in the late 1700s or early 1800s. In reviewing the early censuses of Maryland and Virginia, the writer again found many Rileys living in those states in the early 1800s. Expanding the research into those states and pursuing what appeared to be a formidable, never ending task, the writer continued his research for more than two decades and collected a considerable amount of information on the many Riley families of those states.

Additionally, the writer has personally searched the various genealogical libraries and archives or has hired professional researchers to conduct such searches, including the Library of Congress, for any written family histories about the Rileys. Regrettably, in comparison to their numbers, there have been only a few family histories written about the Rileys, and most have been included with other family histories. Therefore, having amassed a large amount of data on several early Riley families of Maryland and Virginia and on many of their Descendants who migrated to Kentucky and Indiana in the late 1700s and early 1800s, the writer has decided to publish this book to tell their story. In gathering, analyzing, and organizing the data, he has managed to find and include the missing links in his own line of descent. Hopefully, the Riley family histories contained in this book will be of benefit and help to the many Rileys and others descended from these lines. To the writer's knowledge, this book is the first to identify some of the oldest Riley lines of Colonial Maryland and Virginia and their immigrant ancestors.

Regarding the contents and structure of the book, the reader will find it contains a brief history of the Irish nation, the origins and traditional home of the O’Reillys/Reillys/Rileys in Ireland, the origins and home of the English Rylays de Greene, brief histories of the Maryland and Virginia Colonies, the migrations of people from those colonies to the South before the Revolutionary War and to the West following the war, and brief histories of several Riley families dating from colonial days. Each of the family histories in Volume I is supported by end notes citing the sources from which the information was obtained or from extracts of public records can be found in Volume II. The supporting documentation consists of extracts of Wills and other official Federal, state, and county records, such as military service and pension file abstracts, deeds, court suits, marriage records, and Federal and State Censuses. The reader can rest assured that the writer has made every attempt to reference the supporting data properly with regard to their locations and that they have been accurately transcribed. Additionally, the reader will find family lineage charts which have been prepared on each of the several Riley families and which contain essential references to the supporting documentation.

                                          Robert Shean Riley

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