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This collection of 74 letters, written home by brothers Merle and Samuel Riley of the New Chapel community in Lee and Itawamba counties, Mississippi during World War I, give an excellent first-hand account of the soldier's life during the World War I era. These two young men left their family farm in rural northeastern Mississippi to serve their country and this correspondence during a two-year period vividly illustrates the hopes, fears and daily life of an American soldier during the war.

Part 1
September 8, 1917 - May 20, 1918

Part 2
May 21, 1918 - March 4, 1919


John Thomas Riley brought his family to Itawamba County, Mississippi from Edgefield County, South Carolina during 1839 where he settled a large expanse of land in the New Chapel community. John Thomas Riley was the great grandson of John Riley, an Irish immigrant who settled in Augusta County, Virginia during the early 1700s. John Thomas Riley Jr. ( born 25 September 1856) inherited part of his fathers estate in Mississippi and continued to farm the land, following in his father's footsteps. He married Amelia Rankin, the daughter of another old South Carolina family that had settled in Mississippi. From this union were born the following children: John Henry, Daisy Dean, Mary Elizabeth, Samuel Feemster, Lillie F., Merle, Carl and Wallace Cason. For a more indepth history of the Riley family, visit the family history section.


Samuel Feemster Riley
John Henry Riley with wife Maria Bryan
Lillie Riley
John T. Riley and wife Amelia Rankin with children: Carl, Merle, Daisy, Samuel Feemster and Wallace Cason
Daisy Riley


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