Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897


[p. 330] a retired and highly respected citizen of New Castle, was born in Lancastershire, Eng., April 1, 1827, and was a son of John Riley, Sr., who was born in the same place, and was engaged throughout the active period of his life as a coal-miner. He was the father of twelve children, of whom the following grew to maturity: Elizabeth, the widow of the late Andrew Whittaker of New Castle; John; Joseph; Violet; Samuel; and Rosa. After his son John, the subject of this sketch, was well established in business he sent for his father and mother, and they accordingly came to New Castle, and lived with our subject until they died, the father being sixty-five years of age at death, and the mother seventy-seven years old. Our subject's mother's maiden name was Mary Newton, and she was born in Olden, Lancastershire, Eng.

Our subject worked in the coal mines in his Old World home until 1849, when he came to America, and settled in New Castle, Pa., where he worked in the "People's Mines," then for George Crawford about fifteen years, when he with others began operating a mine in Athens, Ohio; but this not proving a success he returned to New Castle and a year later he bought a saw-mill, which he ran about one year, then, in company with his brother, he sank a shaft and mined there three years, when they sold to Rhodes & Patterson, and Mr. Riley remained with the firm till Mr. Rhodes died, and the mine being run by trustees, Mr. Riley still engaged with them as boss. He then bought the lease and worked the mine five years when he sold to his brother and went as boss for the Pennsylvania Company. He then bought the George Crawford farm of 146 acres, which had formerly been leased to a company for mining coal, and had a shaft already sunk, and a railroad built.

In 1886, he retired from active work, and moved to the city of New Castle, and bought the Falls property of five acres on Highland Avenue; very soon after taking possession of the property, he built an addition to the old house, graded and laid out West Park Avenue, and sold a large number of building lots; in doing this work, he had to cut down a high knoll, and fill in the rough surface and bring everything to grade, and make many other valuable and important improvements, and the property thus laid out and improved will in, a very few years be built up with beautiful homes. He has also built two fine houses, one on the corner of Park Avenue and Highland Street, in which he lives. Besides the improvements he has been engaged in to further the progress and growth of New Castle, he has also loaned money and dealt very much in real estate.

In 1859, he married Mrs. Ann Jackson, widow of Joseph Jackson, who was born in County of Durham, England, and came to Lowville, Ohio, in 1854, where he at first labored as an iron ore worker. He died at the age of twenty-four years of typhoid fever. Our subject's wife was born in County Durham, England, and was a daughter of Henry Burton, who settled in Lowville, Ohio, and died in 1859, aged fifty years of heart trouble. His wife passed away to the land of rest at the age of seventy-five. Mr. and Mrs. Riley have never been blessed with children, but nearly always their home has been brightened by the presence of some of their nieces or nephews. In their religious views, they are Methodist Episcopalians, of which church our subject's wife is a devout and faithful member.

Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County Pennsylvania
Biographical Publishing Company, Buffalo, N.Y., 1897

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Updated: 26 May 2001