264 – Rileys Help Tom

Catherine Riley Gallagher died in October 1926. The shock of her death cast a pall on the Gallagher and Riley families. Christmas and New Year’s Eve 1926 were barely celebrated. 1927 dawned on a low note.

Tom Gallagher had lost his wife. Kathleen, age 3, and Buddy, newborn, were without a mother. This was a very difficult situation. The latter years of the 1920s were going to be hard.

What to do?

Tom and Kathleen Gallagher – c 1927

Tom turned to Catherine’s family for help. From babysitting to meals to laundry, the Rileys helped all they could. Tom often stayed at 1406 Broadway with his in-laws instead of taking his children home. He had work obligations, including occasional trips to market that lasted a few weeks.

Will and Josie Riley became “Mama Riley” and “Papa Riley,” surrogate parents to Kathleen and Buddy. Catherine’s sister Mary Agnes helped out where she could. In later life, Kathleen reminisced about fond memories in the Riley household and her special bond with Mama Riley.

Extended family helped out too. Catherine’s sister Irene Riley Hurley lived on Broadway, just down the street from the Rileys. Kathleen spent time with the Rileys and developed close bonds with her cousins Edward, Tommy, and Ann Hurley.

While Tom Gallagher enjoyed success at work, he depended on the Rileys to help with his children. He moved into 1406 West Broadway with his in-laws.

Meanwhile, Will Riley continued his new profession as an insurance salesman. Finances were tighter than when the Rileys owned the beer and liquor distributorship.

Home for sale

The Sedalia Democrat – May 15, 1927

In October 1914, Will and Josie Riley had moved into their house at 1406 West Broadway. They had traded houses with Abel Campbell and his wife, who moved into the Riley’s house at 615 West 5th Street.

By 1927, the Rileys had lived at 1406 West Broadway for thirteen years. Now, in May 1927, they advertised their house for sale.

The Rileys had built up equity in their house over the years they had lived there. Now, they needed an infusion of funds to continue living their lifestyle, so they took out a new loan on the house.

The Rileys borrowed money from Sedalia Savings and Loan in what’s called a Trust Deed. In a Trust Deed, a third-party trustee holds the title until the loan is repaid. John W. Baker was the trustee for the Trust Deed.

Deed Index – Trust Deed – WJ and Josephine Riley, John W. Baker, Trustee

Lots for sale

The Sedalia Capital – April 10, 1927

In 1927, Will Riley also hadn’t yet sold his lots along the east side of Barrett Avenue, just around the corner from 1406 West Broadway. He continued to advertise them, but had no takers.

In April 1927, he put the lots into an auction.

Mike Gallagher very ill

Tom Gallagher’s brother Jim was living in Boonville, Missouri. He had been working for M.K.T. (Katy) Railroad for over ten years, and had transferred around their network.

In April 1927, their father Mike Gallagher became very ill while visiting Jim’s family in Boonville. Jim contacted Tom and his sister Nell Donahoe in Sedalia. Tom and Nell left right away, driving the 45 miles to Boonville.

Missouri Highway Map – 1928

Mike Gallagher recovered from this bout with illness, but his general health continued to decline. Mike was age 64. Mike’s wife Ellen was age 60 and in good health.

Cole’s marches on

Cole’s continued its run of successes in the late 20s. Tom was the consummate manager, organizing promotions, sales, and fashion shows. In April 1927, he had a shipment of hats flown in by air mail. Models showed fashions from Esther Ralston, a Paramount movie star. There was a lingerie showing at the Sedalia movie theater.

As 1927 turned to 1928, Tom Gallagher continued his dedication to Cole’s. By then it had been more than a year since Catherine died. With family care help from the Rileys, Tom was able to continue to travel to eastern markets.

To market, to market

In March 1928, Cole’s held a big sale to celebrate its 8th anniversary in Sedalia. Tom Gallagher had been the manager since that first opening day back in 1920.

The Sedalia Democrat – March 7, 1928

Will Riley still active

In 1928, Will Riley was still struggling to find a career to match his successful stint as a beer and liquor distributor.

He had always been active in the civic and social life of Sedalia, and he continued to do so in his mid-60s.

He loved the stage, and had been performing in community theater productions for years. In 1928, he was the lead actor in the comedy play “The Deestruck Skule.” His character was Jeremiah Corncob.

Nell Gallagher Donahoe was also in the play, portraying Daisy Smile.

Will Riley in politics

Will Riley had been active in city and county politics for years. He was on the Park Board for several years.

Now, in 1928, he threw his hat into the ring for the office of County Assessor. He ran on the Democratic ticket, but there were several candidates in the primary. In the August primary, Will was defeated by Guy Hurd.

Josie Riley still vibrant

Josie Riley, age 60, was as busy maintaining the household as she had been 25 years earlier. Three of her twenty-something children were living at home – Bill, John, and Mary Agnes. Her son-in-law was living there, along with his 5-year-old daughter Kathleen and 2-year-old son Buddy. Josie was caretaker to her two young grandchildren, who called her “Mama Riley.”

The Rileys hosted out-of-town visitors, including son Joe’s family from Chicago, various Pensas and Gardellas from St. Louis, and Gallaghers from Junction City.

Kathleen’s birthday

The Sedalia Democrat – October 10, 1928

Kathleen Gallagher’s 5th birthday was Friday, October 5, 1928. Mary Agnes Riley hosted a birthday party for Kathleen and her friends and cousins.

Kathleen Gallagher – c 1928 – age 5

Kathleen’s had lots of cousins in Sedalia. They were at each other’s birthday parties. They were in school and church together. They played together. Many holidays were celebrated together with the Rileys, Gallaghers, Hurleys, and McGraths. Kathleen was close with her cousins.

Edward Hurley, Kathleen Gallagher, Tommy Hurley – c 1928

Christmas 1928

The year 1928 was in its final month. As they had done for many Christmases, the Riley family gathered with relatives.

Will Riley was age 65. Josie was 60. They were still living at 1406 West Broadway, though the house was for sale and they had taken out a new loan.

Their daughter Mary Agnes Riley was age 24. Daughter Irene Riley Hurley and her family would join the celebration. Sons William and John were living at home, so they too would be celebrating with the family.

Tom Gallagher and his children Kathleen and Buddy were living with the Rileys, so they were there for the celebration. Tom was age 34, Kathleen 5 and Buddy 2.

Looking ahead, 1929 would be an eventful year. Are you surprised?

The Sedalia Democrat – September 23, 1928



2 thoughts on “264 – Rileys Help Tom

  1. deborahlargefox0764 April 26, 2023 / 10:29 am

    Whenever I read about people in the Twenties, I think of the next two tumultuous decades ahead and wonder what the future, the one they are building, holds for them. Looking forward to future posts, as always.


    • Mark Jarvis April 26, 2023 / 10:44 am

      I agree. Makes me think that our generation mostly dodged the bullet on “tumultuous.” But I worry about our kids and grandkids. Seems like they could be in for tumultuous times ahead.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s