D. Riner 63, Mary 60, William 19, Susan 17, Elizabeth Kennison 28, Lawrence 8, Susannah 5, Robert Skeels 18
Jacob and Eliza Jane Talbot Riner and family. Line of Linnia Victorine, who sent me mounds of research.
Living with daughter Hannah Drake, age 74, along with daughter Elizabeth Riner Kiser and grandson Jacob Kiser
1880: Daniel, age 83, living with Mattie Drake Duncan, his granddaughter.
9th Illinois Calvary, Company M
Onarga, Iroquois County, Illinois
Daniel Riner's Story
Daniel Riner, an American Pioneer
Virginia to Indiana to Illinois to Kansas
When I was a girl, my grandmother Hazel Lewis Parsons told me stories of her family’s
pioneer days in Kansas. Hazel, born in 1895, was the second to youngest daughter of
Calvin and Belle Hunt Lewis, themselves children of pioneers. All my childhood, in my
imagination I walked the streets of Burr Oak and the roads of Jewell County as my
grandmother told and retold the family stories. Hazel’s lifetime spanned Conestoga
wagons to space rockets, 1895-1993. But, though she filled my mind and heart with
the Kansas of her youth, I realized the thread of the family journey had been lost.
One summer afternoon in 2001, I decided to clean the upstairs closets, repository of
old clothing from college, Christmas ornaments, boxes saved from my mother’s files,
more recent old clothing, and odd items. Hauling several cardboard boxes of my
mother’s papers out into the room, I began sorting and reading. I knew before I
started that I would throw none of these things away, but perhaps I could organize
and sort. Half way through the second box, I found a large manila envelope with a
return address from my deceased great aunt Mattie Lewis Grubbs who lived in Burr
Oak, Kansas, dated 1974. Wondering what my mother had saved from 25 years ago, I
gingerly drew out five large sheets of cardboard, pasted front and back with yellowed
obituaries, old poems, and old sayings.
Puzzled, I read through some of the names; only one was familiar, “Grubbs,” my
great-aunt’s married name. The afternoon sun streamed through the west window,
the room was quiet, waiting, as I stared at this unexpected look into the past.
Scanning the dates, I saw that all these people had been dead for over a century. In
the middle of one page was an obituary for “Father Riner,” who was born in
Virginia in 1796 and died in Kansas in 1885. Down in the corner of the right side
was an obituary for “Mary Riner Clayton,” who died in 1889. Riner, Riner…..who
were these people? The answer hovered at the edge of my consciousness.
I walked downstairs and pulled boxes of pictures from the bedroom closet,
rummaging until I found the 1992 Kansas trip pictures. My mother had taken me to
the Burr Oak Cemetery and had shown me her grandmother’s grave, as well as her
great-grandmother’s nearby. And I had taken pictures of the gravestones. There it
was, “Mary Riner Clayton,” 1838-1889. Picking up the picture, I ran back upstairs to
the cardboard sheets. Stunned, I saw in front of me the yellowed obituaries of my
grandmother’s grandmother and my great- great-grandmother’s father. Six
generations. Unknown. Unnamed. Their story untold.
Father Riner’s obituary
• Died---At the home of his son-in-law, R. R. Skeels, four miles southwest of Burr Oak, on May
5th, 1885, Daniel Riner, aged 88 years, 6 months, and 26 days.
• Father Riner was born in Berkley County, Virginia, October 19, 1796. He married December
31, 1826 to Miss May Starry. In 1829 he moved from Virginia to Indiana where he resided
until 1850, when he moved to Illinois. There on November 8, 1862, his wife died. On May 11,
1863 he was married to Miss Rhoda Starry, who died May 11, 1867. In the spring of 1883, he
came to Kansas, and lived here with his children until his death. He leaves five children.
William Riner, Mrs. Jesse Drake, Mrs. Cyrus Pangborn, Mrs. R.R. Skeels, of Burr Oak, and Mrs.
William (sic--Benjamin) Clayton of Yates Center, Kansas; four children having preceded him to
the better land. He embraced religion in early life, ever true to his convictions, possessed of
practical business sagacity and unbending integrity, performing all his duties with
promptness, efficiency, and faithfulness. As long as his health permitted, he was regular in his
attendance at church and always a liberal supporter of the Gospel and every good enterprise.
To his family he was devoted, doing all he could to promote their happiness, not only in this
life, but in the next.
• His funeral took place at the M. E. Church in that place on Wednesday, May 6th at 2:00 p.m.,
and was largely attended. On Thursday, surviving relatives started with his remains for
Onarga, Illinois, where they will be laid to rest beside his wife.
Mattie Lewis Grubbs
Bel Hunt Lewis
Hazel Lewis Parsons
Jennifer Drake Nabors
Daniel Riner and his children
Mary Riner Hunt Clayton
Found in an
Front L-R: Susannah Riner Skeels, Daniel Riner, Roseanna Riner Pangbourn.
Back L-R: Mary Riner Hunt Clayton, William Riner, Hannah Riner Drake
Daniel & Mary Starry
Riner migrated to
Indiana in 1828. They
parents, Daniel &
Hannah Smith Starry,
and her younger four
brothers and four
sisters. The Starry
family settled near
Marshfield in Steuben
Township [X], while the
Riner land was in
Mound Township [->].
Daniel & Mary Riner
homestead in Warren
County in 1828, until
leaving in 1850. They
lived in Mound
circle], while her
parents, the Starrys,
and siblings lived in
[red circle]. Due to
their land patents
being so close to the
Wabash River, it is
probable that they
traveled west on the
Ohio River from
Virginia and then
north on the Wabash
1920 plat book of Warren County, Indiana---SW quarter of the NW quarter of Section 28
Douglas Township, Iroquois County, Illinois, about 1850
Daniel Riner 63, Mary 60, William 19, Susan 17,
Elizabeth Riner Kennison 28, Lawrence 8, Susannah 5 [Elizabeth is D & M’s widowed daughter]
Robert Skeels 18 [future husband of Susan Riner]
Value of real estate: $8,600; Value of personal estate: $1,600
Robert Richland Skeels, [1842-1931]
Robert Richland Skeels, [1842-1931]
husband of Susannah Riner Skeels [1842-1892]
R.R. Skeels wrote Daniel’s obituary
Daniel & Mary’s oldest son Jacob Riner and his wife Eliza
Jane Talbot Riner, along with their children, [about 1866].
They left Onarga, Illinois in 1869 and pioneered in Labette
County, Kansas. By 1874, a few years after this photo was
taken, both parents were dead and the older children
raised the younger ones. Calista Anne, the only daughter,
was the grandmother of Liannia Victorine, who did much
of the Riner research and kindly shared stacks of
information with me.
Will Riner, George Riner,
Frank Riner, John Riner
The surviving sons, prosperous
businessmen in Protection,
Comanche, Kansas; they
owned the Ford garage.
Onarga, Illinois, Daniel & Mary’s home on the Illinois/Indiana map.
Daniel, age 74, a wealthy man,
surrounded by his children, is
living on his farm with daughter
Hannah Drake and her husband
Jesse Drake, along with daughter
Elizabeth Riner Kiser and grandson
Jacob Kiser. His nephew, John
Grubb, son of his sister Margaret
Riner Grubb, lives next door. John
Grubb, was the great-great-grandfather
of Homer Lewis
Grubbs, son of Mattie Lewis
Grubbs and first cousin of Jeanne
Parsons Shafer and Lindell Parsons
Drake. Living on the farm is Calvin
Lewis with his first wife Matilda
and daughter Hattie. Also living
with them is David Lewis, brother
of Calvin. Calvin’s sister Mary
Lewis Riner and her husband
William Riner are at the bottom of
Value of real estate--$19,000;
Value of personal estate --$2,600.
1870 US Federal Census for the Town of Onarga in Iroquois County in the State of
Illinois. Enumerated 27 July 1870. Post Office: Onarga. [Page 34]
grandson of Daniel and Mary Starry Riner
* Photo taken in Burr Oak, Kansas
The 1880 Census at HeritageQuest online. Daniel, age 83, is living with his granddaughter
Mattie Drake Duncan and her husband Frank. Next door is granddaughter Julia Riner
Danforth and her husband Dana.
In 1880, Daniel is living on his farm, with his granddaughter and her husband,
Frank and Mattie Drake Duncan. Another granddaughter and her husband, Dana and
Julia Riner Danforth, are next door. Sadly, he is listed as a “boarder” on his own farm.
Jewell County, Kansas
By 1880, five of Daniel’s children had migrated to Jewell County, Kansas. Due to his
increasingly frail health, his family moved him to Kansas to be with his surviving children.
Jewell County Kansas, townships
By 1880, Daniel Riner’s
children, Hannah Riner Drake,
Roseanna Riner Pangbourn,
Mary Riner Clayton,
Susannah Riner Skeels, and
William Riner, all lived in Burr
Oak or Limestone townships
in Jewell County, Kansas.
Burr Oak Township
Cal, Thomas, and William Lewis, and their cousin Thomas Miller, along with William Riner, all
served in the 9th Illinois Calvary, Company M. Cal married Daniel Riner’s granddaughter, Hannah
Belle Hunt Fry. The Lewis farms and the farms of the Riner children are lined up in Burr Oak
Township, Jewell County, Kansas in 1880.
Barn and pasture of the
Cal Lewis homestead,
Burr Oak, Kansas in 2010.
Cal married Daniel &
Belle Hunt Fry in 1886.
Their daughter, Hazel
Lewis Parsons, was the
mother of Jeanne Parsons
Shafer and Lindell Parsons
Pictures by Brooks Drake
great-great-grandson of Daniel & Mary Riner
The Riner Family
Website created and managed by Justin Harter
Jeanne Shafer Apple Bedwell’s genealogy website.