George W. Reilly Collection

Collection Summary

Title: George W. Reilly Collection
Call Number: MS 2000-08
Size: 1.0 linear feet
Acquisition: Source unknown
Processed by: KFL 5-16-2000; JLY, 8-2007; MN, 11-2012
Restrictions: None
Note: Digital collection, George W. Reilly Collection

Literary Rights

Literary rights were not granted to Wichita State University. When permission is granted to examine the manuscripts, it is not an authorization to publish them. Manuscripts cannot be used for publication without regard for common law literary rights, copyright laws and the laws of libel. It is the responsibility of the researcher and his/her publisher to obtain permission to publish. Scholars and students who eventually plan to have their work published are urged to make inquiry regarding overall restrictions on publication before initial research.

Content Note

The George W. Reilly collection consists of letters, a diary, financial records, ephemera, and photographs from a short time period (1881-1902) in the life of George Reilly who was mayor of Caldwell, Kansas, and then lived in Wichita for a number of years. Reilly was involved in the opening of Indian Territory south of Caldwell in Oklahoma and his papers include letters referring to this event and the first run into Oklahoma in 1889.


George Reilly was born in Illinois in 1852. He was raised in the mercantile business and started clerking at an early age. After college, he went to Nebraska and Iowa for a short time, working in grocery and hardware business. From there, he lived in Wichita from 1874 until 1879 where he bought the Todd & Royal Store. Here he ran the wholesale and retail grocery store on the northeast corner of Main and Douglas, now the Schweiter Building. In 1879, he moved on to Caldwell, Kansas, where he was involved in the general supply industry, real estate, sales, law, and became mayor of the town around 1887-1889. Sometime between 1896 and 1899, he moved back to Wichita, making it his home until his death in 1919. He lived at 1359 North Lawrence Avenue.

In 1876, he married Lizzie Reilling of Bellevue, Iowa; she died in 1880. Soon after, in 1881, Reilly married Lizzie’s sister Regina. Between the two wives, Reilly had many children. He died at the age of 68 in 1919.

Reilly was an influential local figure in Caldwell during the period when Oklahoma was being opened up to settlers.

Detailed Description: Series Listing

Series 1 Box 1 FF 1-24 Correspondence. The files in this series contain original correspondence both sent and received by Reilly. The letters date between 1881 and 1902.
Series 2 Box 1 FF 25 Diary. This file contains a photocopy of Reilly's diary, March-May 1874.
Series 3 Box 1 FF 26-28 Financial Records. This series includes receipts, checks and check stubs and bank books.
Series 4 Box 1 FF 29 Photographs. File contains original photographs of Reilly.
Series 5 Box 1 FF 30-31 Ephemera. The items in this file include freight train permits, photocopied obituaries and other newspaper articles about Reilly, and other miscellaneous items.
Series 6 Box 2 Oversized. This series includes an oversized photograph of Reilly and family.

Detailed Description: Box and Folder Listing

Series 1 ‒ Correspondence

Box 1 FF 1 June 1867. Letter to “Cousin George” [George Reilly] from John Murphy. The letter discusses family matters.
Box 1 FF 1A June-October 1881. 31 personal letters written to Regina Reilling. Reilling was the sister of Reilly’s first wife Lizzie who died in 1880. George W. Reilly then married Regina, sister of Lizzie, in November 1881.
Box 1 FF1B October 1881. Letter written by Reilly to Father Portz. In the letter Riley asks for “a dispensation for me (if it is required) to marry my deceased wifes sister Miss Regina Reilling.”
Box 1 FF 2 1885. The file contains a personal letter from Regina, a personal letter addressed to Reilly as “Mayor,” and three letters written to Reilly concerning land.
Box 1 FF 2A January 1886. A letter to “Sister and Brother” [envelope addressed to G. W. Reilly] discussing family matters.
Box 1 FF 3 October-November 1886. This file contains letters about assay tests, silver mines, and the potential for a “boom” in Caldwell. There is also correspondence about purchasing bricks. Reilly is Referred to as Mayor.
Box 1 FF 4 December 1886. Contains correspondence about an ore evaluation and a business letter to Mayor Reilly.
Box 1 FF 5 January-February 1887. Contains business correspondence, including a letter from Kansas, Colorado, and Texas Railroad Co. discussing whether or not to bring the railroad to Caldwell.
Box 1 FF 6 March 1887. Letters from the Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska Railway Co. concerning a right of way. Also letters from Caldwell Coal and Mining, a letter concerning a subsidy in Caldwell, and a letter from the State of Kansas declaring Caldwell a city of the second class on 3-22-1887.
Box 1 FF 7 April 1887. Business letters regarding property values, references on several men.
Box 1 FF 8 May 1887. Correspondence about the coal company from Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska Railway Co.
Box 1 FF 9 June 1887. Letters about the “boom,” property sales, Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska Railway Co. right of way and location of depot.
Box 1 FF 10 July 1887. Business correspondence about property, real estate, law, and loans and several different topics from Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska Railway Co. livestock agent, local surgeon, transportation).
Box 1 FF 11 August 1887. Letters from Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska Railway Co. regarding property taxes, bonds, and Inter Ocean article.
Box 1 FF 12 September 1887. Letters from Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska Railway Co. concerning building a line from Winfield, Kansas to Caldwell, etc.
Box 1 FF 13 October- December 1887. Letter from Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska Railway Co.
Box 1 FF 14 1888. Inquiry to Mayor about a “swindler.” Also, other business correspondence.
Box 1 FF 15 January-February 1889. Letters from Samuel Crocker about bill pending in the Senate about the “Oklahoma movement.” Also correspondence from Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska Railway Co. and a telegram from P. L.(?) Pierce regarding Oklahoma bill.
Box 1 FF 16 March 1889. Correspondence from Samuel Crocker about Indian appropriation bill (passed), Indian territory in Purcell, Oklahoma, and Crocker and Mansur’s arrival in Caldwell. Letter from George Brown about people (settlers) arriving in Purcell and from H. L.(?) Pierce about Mansur’s arrival.
Box 1 FF 17 April-May 1889. Letter from B. W. Perkins (?), House of Representatives, coming for President proclaiming the opening of Oklahoma country and discussion about opening to “white and civilized settlement.” Also a letter from Merritt Headquarter Department of the Missouri regarding Mayor Reilly’s inquiry whether Oklahoma settlers can cross the Cherokee Strip and how. A second letter from the Dept. of the Missouri grants permission for Oklahoma settlers to pass through Cherokee Strip by regularly established cattle trail and public highways. Additional material from Headquarters Kansas Brigade Uniform Rank Knights of Pythias.
Box 1 FF 18 June-October 1889. Letter from Northern Pacific Railway Co. regarding property and discussion about Oklahoma.
Box 1 FF 19 1890. Personal and business correspondence (indicates that Reilly went on the road as job).
Box 1 FF 20 January-April 1901. Personal letters to and from Reilly.
Box 1 FF 21 May 1901. Personal and business letters.
Box 1 FF 22 June-December 1901. Personal letters, including one from Reilly’s granddaughters in Wichita and telegraph notifying Reilly of a house burning down.
Box 1 FF 23 1902. Personal letter.
Box 1 FF 23A 1918. Letter written to Regina about the death of the author’s husband.
Box 1 FF 23B 1921. Letter written to Regina about George’s death and a letter written to Regina from her brother concerning family matters.
Box 1 FF 24 Dates unknown. Unopened letter to Reilly, telegram about the death of Mr. Phillip, two envelopes, a card to “Mother,” and a letter written by Reilly to Bock and Schreiner with illegible date.

Series 2 ‒ Diary

Box 1 FF 25 Diary. Photocopies and transcription of Reilly’s diary from 1874, March through May.

Series 3 ‒ Financial Records

Box 1 FF 26 Receipts
Box 1 FF 27 Checks and stubs
Box 1 FF 28 Bank books

Series 4 ‒ Photographs

Box 1 FF 29 Reilly in military photograph, the last in military dress on the far left hand side of picture. Also, a photograph taken in 1914 of Reilly and Mary Helen.

Series 5 ‒ Ephemera

Box 1 FF 30 Includes a 1901 card for the Order of United Commercial Travelers, 1990 and 1901 Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway freight train permits, and 2 assay reports. Photocopied obituaries for George Reilly, photocopy of 1874 photograph of store owned by Reilly in Wichita, biography of Reilly from 1883 History of Kansas.

Series 6 ‒ Oversized

Box 2    Photograph of Reilly and his family, date unknown (circa 1901). Also includes a photocopy of the photograph with identifications.