The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc. Chicago and New York,
Volume III pg. 76
Submitted by Gerald Bills.
JESSE EARLE RILEY, superintendent of city schools of St. Marys, was at one
time probably the youngest teacher in West Virginia, qualifying for his first
school when he was only fifteen. He has been alternately a student and teacher
ever since, is a Master of Arts from Bucknell University, and has an enviable
record as a teacher and school administrator.
Mr. Riley was born in Taylor County, West Virginia, near Bridgeport, March 27,
1888. In the same vicinity was born his father, James Riley, in October, 1848,
and the grandfather also bore the name James and was born in old Virginia in
1828. The Rileys came from Ireland and were Colonial settlers in Virginia.
James Riley, Sr., as a young man moved to the vicinity of Bridgeport, was
married there, and lived his life as a successful farmer. He died in 1913.
James Riley, Jr., learned a mechanical trade, but for the greater part of his
active life owned and managed an extensive farm near Bridgeport and since 1921
has lived retired at Shinnston in Harrison County. He is a democrat, and a
very active member of the Baptist Church. He married Louisa Withers, who was
born in old Virginia in November, 1850. Their family consisted of eight
children: Effie, wife of Jonah Currey, a flour miller at Bridgeport; Leola,
who died at Enterprise, West Virginia, in 1909, aged thirty-five, wife of
Jesse Anderson, a farmer near Boothsville, West Virginia; Charles, a farmer
who died near Bridgeport in 1908, at the age of thirty-three; Leonard, a
mechanic and contractor at Shinnston; Marion, a general contractor at
Shinnston; Ora, wife of Minor Currey, who is in the lumber business at
Shinnston; Jesse Earle; and Truman, a general contractor at Bridgeport.
Jesse Earle Riley attended the rural schools of Taylor County, graduated from
Broaddus Institute, then located at Clarksburg, with the class of 1909, and
received his A. B. degree from Bucknell University at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania,
in 1914, and won his Master of Arts degree from the same institution in 1916.
He was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity at Bucknell. During 1915
Mr. Riley also took special work in history and economics in West Virginia
University at Morgantown. As a youth of fifteen he was appointed to preside
over a rural school in Taylor County, and taught in rural districts four
years. In 1914 he became an instructor in Latin and registrar of Broaddus
Institute, remaining there a year. For two years he was teacher of science in
the high school of Portsmouth, Ohio, then superintendent of schools at
Harrisville, West Virginia, two years, principal of the high school of New
Martinsville two years, and in June, 1921, came to his present duties as
superintendent of city schools of St. Marys. St. Marys has a well organized
school system, there being six schools, a staff of twenty-five teachers, and a
scholarship enrollment of seven hundred.
Mr. Riley is a member of the West Virginia State Educational Association, and
during the war had an effective part in stimulating patriotism and teaching
Americanism in the schools and was also a worker in the various war drives at
Harrisville. He is a democrat in politics, a member of the Baptish Church, and
is affiliated with Shinnston Lodge No. 24, F. and A. M. Mr. Riley is a
stockholder in the Riley & Riley Company, general building contractors at
Shinnston, an organization in which the active members are his brothers,
At Washington, D. C., in 1917 Mr. Riley married Miss Ethel Heiter, daughter of
James 0. and Daisy (Kleckner) Heiter, residents of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
Mrs. Riley is a graduate of the Domestic Science Department of Bucknell
University, and for one year before her marriage was dietitian in the
university. The three eons of Mr. and Mrs. Riley are William born July 27,
1918, John Warren, born February 3, 1920, and Ellwood Withers, born November