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.
September 8, 1917 - May 20, 1918
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
John T. Riley and wife Amelia Rankin with children:
Carl, Merle, Daisy, Samuel Feemster and Wallace Cason