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Jim Riley Cemetery

The Historic
Jim Riley Cemetery

Big wheat field, small cemetery
also known as the "Indian Cemetery"
near Lenora, Dewey County, Oklahoma
NE/4 of Section 17-18N-17WIM
Owned by Mrs. Alene Squires

Riley cemetery vandalism
Destroyed by Vandals
The 20 x 20 foot area surrounded by an iron fence in 1956.

Riley cemetery vandalism

Riley Family Cemetery, August 2002
Reset and Repaired September 2002
Riley Family Cemetery 2002


Jim Riley gravestone toppled

James Riley was one of Western Oklahoma's first settlers. He was born in Ireland and emigrated in 1859. Jim was well educated and clerked for trader Connell at the Cheyenne Agency at Darlington, Indian Territory. He also worked as a carpenter. January 1886, he brought his family from Baxter Springs, Kansas. His wife Nina was a full-blood Cheyenne. They left the Cheyenne agency in Febuary 1886 and settled near Camp Creek in the Cheyenne and Arapaho Reservation, present day Dewey County. The land was opened to homesteaders April 19, 1892. Jim served as precinct inspector in election of January 1893. A month later a new postoffice 10 miles NW of Taloga was named Riley in his honor.

Jim's cattle ranch was recognized as one the best. Rumors said some of the Doolin outlaws found shelter in the deep canyons on his ranch and swapped horses with his stock. Jim was a respectable citizen. He was member of Committee of Reception for Fourth of July Celebration 1895. Jim served jury duty November 1895. Jim and Nina enjoyed the Christmas Grand Ball at Taloga December 1895. They held a dance at the ranch the next month. June 1896, Jim joined other settlers in an injunction suit against the county sheriff and treasurer from collecting a 50 per cent territorial raise from the parties of the petition. Attorneys Temple Houston, Grant Pettyjohn and I. C. Price represented the settlers and obtained the injunction in the court.

This fine pioneer passed away at his ranch December 5, 1903, 48 years, and was laid to rest in his family cemetery. Survived by five children, Mary 17, James Jr. 9, Jennie 7, Helen (Nina) 5 and Hazel 2. Children Minnie and George died in 1892. Wife Nina passed away in 1902. Jim was missed by several communities of Dewey County.

Resources: Cheyenne Transporter 1885 & 1886, Taloga Accident 1893, Taloga Tomahawk 1893 & 1895, Taloga Advocate 1895, Western Oklahoman (Taloga) Nov 2, 1895, Taloga Advocate Dec 10, 1903 and 1900 Census, Oklahoma Terr., Dewey County. Newspaper & census research by Susan Bradford, Rt 1, Duke, OK 73532. Probate research by Patsy Smart.

Photos by Steve Bunch, P. O. Box 357, Mooreland, OK 73852

Nina Riley, d. 1902
TALOGA ADVOCATE, July 10, 1902, page 1.
Mrs. James Riley Dead.
Nina Riley, wife of James Riley, died Monday at the Riley ranch near Lenora and the remains were interred in the family burying ground at 10 o'clock Tuesday, where three of her children are buried. A large concourse of friends attended the funeral, among them were a number from Taloga. Not withstanding the fact that the deceased was a full blood Cheyenne Indian, she enjoyed the respect of everybody who knew her and numbered among the friends the best people in the county.

Nina Riley

Minnie Riley 1890-1892 Minnie Riley, daughter of Jim and Nina. Born March 21, 1890, died July 13, 1892.

Minnie Riley

George Riley 1888-1892 George Riley, son of Jim and Nina. Born October 12, 1888, died July 21, 1892.

George Riley

Willie Livingbear, d. 1897 Willie Livingbear, brother of Nina. Died July 29, 1897, 20 years. Willie Livingbear

According to Nina Riley's obituary there would be another child buried here. There is a report
that Fred Hoffman, Dewey County Treasurer and husband of Nina's sister Florence (Crooked Woman), was buried here when Fred was murdered January 1895.

Nina Riley received the NE/4 of Section 17-18N-17WIM. Nina's son, George Riley, received the NW/4 of Section 17-18N-17WIM. Florence (Crooked Woman) Hoffman received her allotted land next to her sister's land, SW/4 of Section 17-18N-17WIM.

There is another Riley cemetery, much larger and still in use today by rural area of Cestos, located in NE4 of Section 26-19-16 (southwest of Cestos). It was probably located where the Riley post office was, 10 miles northwest of Jim Riley's home.

Dewey County Map by Sharon McAllister
Dewey County (Section-Township-Range)

Saving Graves
Saving Graves: Endangered Cemetery Report: James Riley Cemetery