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Fayette County, Iowa
Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910
Author: G. Blessin
B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana
Vol. I, Biographical Sketches
"The subject of this sketch, who is a well known section foreman on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad, with headquarters at Hawkeye, is a native of Clayton county, Iowa, where he was born on April 4, 1863. His parents, Thomas and Margaret Riley, both born in county West Meath, Ireland, were married in their native country and about fifty years ago came to the United States, settling on a farm in Fayette county, Iowa, where they lived until their removal, in 1874, to the town of Wadena. There three years later Thomas Riley ceased his earthly labors, the subject being fourteen years old at the time. Michael Riley remained at the parental home until his twenty-fourth year, but in the meantime, at the early age of fifteen, began his long career as a railroader by accepting a position on the section, of which he is now foreman and with which his life from that time to the present has been very closely identified. Such was his efficiency as a workman and so faithful did he prove to the interests of the road that two years after entering the service he was promoted foreman, being but seventeen at the time and doubtless the youngest man on the entire line to be entrusted with such a responsible position. He has been with the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul company continuously for thirty years, during about twenty-eight years of which time he has been foreman of the Hawkeye section, which extends six and a half miles north and one and a half miles south of the town, the entire distance of eight miles ranking among the best-kept sections on the entire road. At times he has had charge of very important work, requiring a large force of men, his gang in the spring of 1893 averaging more than a hundred, a number of whom have been with him on full pay from the beginning of his service as a foreman. Mr. Riley stands high in the confidence of the large corporation with which he is identified and his long period of service in the same capacity and the same place speaks volumes for his faithfulness and efficiency as a leader of men. While deeply interested in his duty and making it paramount to everything else, he has not been unmindful of the obligations which every citizen owes to the community. To this end he is alive to all that makes for the growth and advancement of the city in which he resides, taking an active part in all laudable enterprises for the good of his fellow men, and his influence has always been on the right side of every moral issue. At the age of twenty-five Mr. Riley was united in the holy bonds of matrimony with Mary Maguire, daughter of John and Bridget Maguire, of Fayette county, the marriage resulting in the birth of the following children: Margaret, born July 19, 1888; Edward, born November 15, 1890; Bessie, born October 5, 1892; Michael, born December 28, 1895; Viola, born September 26, 1901, all living and with their parents, excepting Margaret, who married Ed. Koeler in March, 1909.
Mr. Riley was reared a Catholic and has ever been a true son of the Holy Mother church, his wife and children also being communicants. The family is highly esteemed in Hawkeye, where Mr. Riley’s friends are as the number of his acquaintances. Inheriting many of the characteristics and sterling qualities of his nationality, he has become a great favorite in social circles and those who know him best speak most highly in praise of his upright life and manly conduct.
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