History of Riley, Il.
From: The History of McHenry County, Illinois
Published by: Munsell Publishing Company, 1922




Riley Township is the southwestern subdivision of the county, and comprises congressional township 43, range 5. It is bounded on the north by Marengo Township; on the east by Coral Township; on the south by Kane County, and on the west by Boone County. Coon Creek, with two of its tributaries, furnishes the water courses for the territory within the township. The streams are small and not as numerous as in other parts of the county, but the township is among the best agricultural sections. It is almost exclusively prairie land and even as long ago as fifty years, the farms were spoken of as being among the best in Northern Illinois.


This township was first settled by T. W. Cobb, Roswell Bates, N. E. Barnes, Jenkins Underwood and Osborn Underwood. These persons came in between 1836 and 1843. Whitman Cobb arrived here in 1836, and possibly several more of the men just named were pioneers of the same year. Cobb continued a resident of the township until 1874, when he moved to Warren, Ill. Three years later, however, he returned to Riley Township, and died here soon afterwards. Samuel Smith caine in 1837, and Russell Baily in 1838. All of these men made permanent homes within the township.


The first white child born within this township was Ezra O. Knapp, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Knapp.

The first death was that of Samuel Smith in 1837.

Spencer Flanders and Caroline Cobb were united in marriage by Ward Burley, a justice of the peace, August 19, 1841, this being the first wedding in the township.

Dr. Albert E. Smith was the township’s first physician. He settled here in 1837, remained several years, and was followed by Dr. John Wentworth, who was in active practice until his death.

It was said of this township in 1877: “Having plenty of facilities in adjoining townships, they have erected no church buildings within its limits. The population for many years was about evenly divided between the Congregationalists and the Methodists. Meetings were frequently held in nearby schoolhouses.”

From the start, this township has been alive to the value of a good common school system and has improved every opportunity given it along this line.

The township was among, if not the very first in the county to provide itself with a good town hail, centrally located, where it held its elections and transacted all business, while other townships put up with tile schoolhouse that happened to be situated nearest by for all such affairs.

It had a cheese factory in the early seventies. It also was early among the townships of the county to set out fruit trees and reaped the reward of such action by later harvesting large crops of luscious apples and cherries.


The earliest cemetery was laid out a.t a very early date, nearly in the center of the township.

Another small burying ground was laid out close to the Kane County line.


What was known as South Riley post office was established very early in tile southwest quarter of section 27. A store and blacksmith shop were maintained there for a time. With the coming of the free rural mail delivery system the post office was discontinued, since which time the people of the township have traded at Marengo or other nearby points.


In 1890 Riley Township had a population of 830; in 1900, 915; in 1910, 822; and in 1920, 717.


The following are the township officials of Riley Township: supervisor, H. H. Barber; assessor, C. Mackey; clerk, Cleo Anthony; highway commissioner, H. H. Dunbar; justices of the peace, Roy Griebel and R. W. Metcalf; constables, A. Stockwell and Frank Griebel.

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