215 – Will Buys the Business

Sedalia – Ohio Street looking south – c 1905

Sedalia’s population growth had slowed in the last decade, but it reached 16,000 in 1905.

It was a cosmopolitan town, with streetcars, electric lighting, and two telephone companies.

The Missouri State Fair began in 1901 and has been held in August every year since.

Anything you needed could be found for sale in downtown Sedalia.

A stroll through the City Directory shows that Sedalia had all the modern conveniences. Clothing stores, restaurants and bars, a tea house.

There was frequent rail service to all points of the compass. There was a music college and two theaters and an opera house. There were a dozen barbers and six billiard halls. Two buggy shops and twenty-nine churches.

Sacred Heart Church

There were two Catholic churches in Sedalia. St. Patrick’s Church was built in 1872 at Pettis and Lamine Streets, east of downtown. Sacred Heart Church was built in 1882 at 421 West Third Street, a few blocks west of downtown.

Bishop Hogan made a division in the two parishes, ordering all Catholics west of Ohio Street to go to Sacred Heart, which was built in 1882, and all living east of Ohio go to St. Patrick Church. He made one exception, all German families living east of Ohio Street were privileged to attend Sacred Heart Church and School, where German was spoken and taught. Not only did all the German families go to Sacred Heart, but many of the more substantial Irish families moved to the west side.

History of St. Patrick

The Rileys attended Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Perhaps they intentionally chose living quarters west of Ohio Street so they could attend Sacred Heart with other Irish-Catholic families.

Sacred Heart Church

Sacred Heart School

Sacred Heart School was established in 1882, at the same time the church opened.

School was conducted on the first floor of the original church building, which served as a church, school and convent. Grades one through four studied in one room while grades four through eight occupied the other classroom.

The History of Sacred Heart School
Missouri classroom – 1910

From 1882 until 1905, enrollment grew. The parlor, club rooms, parish hall and the smoking room were converted to classrooms. By 1905 enrollment was 162. A new school was needed.

Will Riley and Ed Cassidy were on the building committee for the new school.

The land across the street was purchased from Martha Smith and Sarah E. Cotton for the price of $2,000 and a new school was erected, for a cost of $20,000.

The History of Sacred Heart School

The school opened in 1907. Thereafter, all the Riley children attended school through 8th grade at Sacred Heart. So did Kathleen Gallagher (Teply) in the 1920s.

A birthday party

The Sedalia Democrat – August 16, 1907

On August 16, 1907, Catherine Rose Riley turned seven years old. A party was planned.

The bar business

Will Riley had sold the W. J. Riley & Company saloon at 309 South Ohio to Boutell and Graham in 1903. In 1905, he got a license to open an establishment at 213 West Main Street, and then in 1906 to operate the bar in the Antlers Hotel. The hotel was at the corner of Third and Ohio, across the street from his old place.

Sedalia – Ohio Street at Night, and Antlers Hotel – c 1905

The big business

The bar business was a sideline. The beer and liquor distributorship was the main attraction.

Ed Cassidy had always been a supporter and mentor to his younger brother-in-law Will. He had given him a job in 1882 and supported him since. Will Riley had done a superb job for Cassidy.

The Sedalia Democrat – May 19, 1907

Now, in 1907, Cassidy put in place the ability for William J. Riley to buy him out and become the owner.

The first step was to incorporate the business. That would allow for multiple owners, those being the stockholders. E.G. Cassidy & Co. was incorporated on Saturday, May 18, 1907. Stockholders were E.G. Cassidy, 200 shares, W.J. Riley, 100 shares, and S.B. Livingston, 20 shares.

Samuel B. Livingston was a liquor and beer salesman, ten years younger than Will Riley. Livingston had been working for James Glass & Co., a competitor company. Cassidy and Riley lured him away with as offer of ownership. Sam became William Riley’s traveling salesman.

In December of 1907, the buy/sell agreement was signed. And on January 1, 1908, William J. Riley became the owner of E.G. Cassidy & Co.

The Sedalia Democrat – December 19, 1907

The consideration paid for Mr. Cassidy’s interests in the business is a private matter.

The Sedalia Democrat – December 19, 1907

We don’t know the financial details, but Cassidy had probably enabled Riley to buy out his shares over time.

Home life

There are lots of stories about Riley home life. We’ve seen the reports of their illnesses. Will’s amateur acting continued. Josie hosted relatives on visits, and occasionally traveled to St. Louis. They hosted holiday parties. And the Christmas tree caught fire.



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