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Michael Reilly, 1808-1892

-from the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, Jan. 9, 1892.


A Well Known Business Man Passes away at a Ripe Age,


One of Wheeling's Wealthiest Citizens a Victim of the Grip -- He Lives to be an Octogenarian and Leaves a Large Family to Mourn his Loss.

Illustration of Micael Reilly, Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, January 9, 1892.

At five minutes before 7 o'clock yesterday morning, Mr. Michael Reilly died at his residence on the corner of Fourteenth and Byron streets, after an illness of only two weeks. He was seized with the grip, and his age and heavy build added to its severity. He was seen to be on his death bed several days ago, but held on to life remarkably firmly, and was as clear in his intellect till within a comparatively short time of his death as ever.

Mrs. Reilly has also been pretty seriously ill with the grip for a short time, and Mr. Reilly's son, Mr. George Reilly, was also confined to bed with the same ailment yesterday.


Mr. Reilly was one of the wealthiest and in every way most prominent citizens of Wheeling, and to his enterpise the city owes much. He had reached the advanced age of nearly eighty-four years, having been born in County Cavan in Ireland, in 1808. His father was Philip Reilly, who about 1820 emigrated to America with his wife and children, the only surviving one of whom now is Mrs. E. J. Carney. The family removed first to Pittsburgh and later to Steubenville, where Mr. Reilly accumulated a little property and then removed to St. Louis. He returned to Steubenville before very long, and later the family removed to Wheeling, where Michael Reilly has resided continuously since.

The father purchased a property on Market street just north of Eleventh, and was for a long time engaged in the grocery and produce business there. He also shipped produce to the southern markets by the boats, and in this way amassed what was then considered a good sized fortune. He bought the farm on which the part of the city now called Manchester is situated, and platted and sold the lots there. He also [ ... ] a distillery there and ran it in connection with the farm. Later he bought a farm north of the city and built a residence there in which lived until his death.


Michael Reilly started in business in [ ... ] life as a merchant tailor, but [ ... ] went into the distilling business, in which he remained for years. In [ ... ] he went into the grocery business on [ ... ] Upper market square, and he had been continuously in that business since that year, a period of fifty-six years. He was the oldest grocer in the city and doubtless in the state, and there are few in country who can show as long a career in the business.

For years he had a large wholesale house on Main street north of Fourteenth and he was also extensively engaged in pork packing up to his death, [..]ying a pork house over in Manchester.

Mr. Reilly had also a number of investments and was actively engaged in the management of a number of corporations. He was one of the original and one of the largest stockholders in the Wheeling & Elm Grove railroad, and was a [ ... ] of the company. He was vice president of the Franklin Insurance Company and a director of the National Bank of West Virginia and of the Wheeling & Belmont Bridge Company. He was also a large owner of real estate, and he built the Reilly block, on the corner of Market and Fourteenth street, a structure that not only reflects credit on his enterprise and taste, but is an ornament to the city.


Mr. Reilly was never anything of a place seeker, but he was for a time a member of the Board of County Commissioners and its president. He was until the last term ended for many years a member of the Board of Directors of the state penitentiary at Moundsville, and served as chairman of the democratic state committee for two terms, being the predecessor in that office of Mr. Lewis [B?]aker. In all his public service he manifested the same faithfulness and intelligence which marked his management of his own business.

He was a devout Catholic and an adherent of the Cathedral congregation. He was married December 27, 1837, to Miss Matilda Finegan, who died in 1883, leaving six children, Thomas, the manager of the grocery establishment, who has since died, George V., Helen, who is the wife of Mr. A. C. Jamison, Michael, jr., who is in business in Chicago, James V., and John J. All of them are residents of this city except Michael, jr., and most of them grew up in their father's establishment.


The funeral of Mr. Reilly will take place Monday forenoon from his late residence at the corner of Buron and Fourteenth street, [ ... ] mass being celebrated at St. Joseph's cathedral at [ .. ] a. m.

Mr. Reilly's fortune has been variously estimated at from half to three-quarters of a million dollars.

[note: Ellipses [ ... ] in the text above reflect various problem in the microfilm of the story -- it is underexposed in the inner margins, scratched, and also torn and repaired.]

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