Riley Family Massacre
Francis Riley, Revolutionary War Patriot

(John H Riley Civil War descendant of Francis Riley)
John H & wife, Sarah C. buried in Harrison County, Ohio

(Based on information from Wm. F. Millard, 21 E. 5th St. P.O. 201 B, Gerald, MO  63037 submitted by; Ernest P. Riley Jr., 901 Twp. Hwy.267, Amsterdam, OH  93903)

Francis Riley and wife, Hannah had five children, three sons and two daughters.  Francis Riley’s name is listed on the muster roles ofCaptain William Scott’s Co. 4 Battalion of the Washington County (Ohio) Militia for the year 1781 during the Revolutionary War.  His rank is listed at that time as “Private.”

Francis Riley was born 1721 and massacre happened between 1883-91.  The family composed of Mr. Riley and his wife, Hannah, which were the first Riley’s to settle in the Ohio Valley region.  Francis entered Ohio by crossing the Ohio River at Beech Bottom, Virginia (now West Virginia).

The family traveled up through the Block Hollow and settled in a home built on what was later to be identified as the Smiley Johnston Farm. This property was located between what are now Co. Rd. 19 and Wells Twp. Rd. 163.  This area was known as Riley’s Run. (Riddles Run)

A tribe of Shawnee Indians had a trail that they used to travel through the area.  This trail connected to a sandbar, which the Indians used to cross the Ohio River.  The house where the Riley family settled was in close proximity to the trail.  According to Mr. Millard, the Shawnee were not happy with the house being located so close to their trail and had spoken with Mr. Riley.  They asked him to move from what they considered to be “their area.” Mr. Riley of course didn’t move and remained on the property.  Mr. Riley and some of his sons were working in the fields when the Indians attacked.  Mr. Riley and two sons were quickly killed.  The Shawnee hung their bodies in trees as a warning sign to other settlers.  The eldest son, John escaped.  The mother and one son, probably Moses, who was an infant, escaped to the Block house which was located near what is now called Gould’s Run.  The Indians killed the younger daughter because she was not strong and could not keep up.  The other daughter they took with them. (Her story is a future story in itself!)  The Militia quickly went after the Shawnee, but was not able to retrieve the little girl.  She was later sold to a French Trader. 

The bodies of the family members killed by the Indians were taken down and buried in the Hyndman Family Cemetery, which is, located near the intersection of County Rt. 19 and Riddles Run Rd.  Of the original 20 or more family stones, only three markers remain in place.  (Update on this cemetery - go to Hyndman Cemetery)

“Many historians have basically ignored this massacre,” states Mr. Millard.  He feels it has great historical significance in that it was the final massacre to be committed by the Indians in the Ohio Valley region. 

A good book to read concerning this massacre is titled, That Dark & Bloody River, by author, Allan W. Erkert. His accounts of the massacre add interest and flair.  Details such as; Francis dying during the massacre, which Indian tribe was involved, other family members being present, date of massacre, this all varies from Mr. Millard’s account. Caldwell’s explanation adds yet another account of the events similar to Mr. Millard’s.  Local author, Mr. Robert Richardson reveals that while Allan W. Erkert's book is entertaining, the author took many creative licenses with the true accounts of what happened.