Notables Buried at Greenlawn: John Phillip Rilley

“Extraordinary bravery and coolness”.      Image

 

Landsman John Phillip Rilley (or Riley) was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery during the Spanish-American War when he was just 21 years old. His citation notes: “On board the U.S.S. Nashville during the operation of cutting the cable leading from Cienfuegos, Cuba, 11 May 1898. Facing the heavy fire of the enemy, Rilley displayed extraordinary bravery and coolness throughout this action”

 

From www.homeofheroes.com: “The mission was a daring operation to cut undersea cables linking the Spanish fortifications at Cienfuegos with the rest of the world. Destruction of the cables was ordered to disrupt communications. In two boats, sailors from the USS Nashville and the USS Marblehead were joined by a Marine guard as they moved within 15 feet of the enemy shore, under fire from the hidden enemy, to dredge up and cut two such cables. During the 80 minute operation, the cable cutting party was under constant enemy fire from a short range, while they coolly dredged the cables across the bow of their boats, then cut through them with hacksaws.”

 

Mr. Rilley was born in 1877 in AllentownPA, and died in Salem November 16, 1950.

 

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Notables Buried at Greenlawn: John Phillip Rilley

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“Extraordinary bravery and coolness”.

Landsman John Phillip Rilley (or Riley) was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery during the Spanish-American War when he was just 21 years old. Mr. Riley is the only Salem resident to be awarded this honor. His citation notes: “On board the U.S.S. Nashville during the operation of cutting the cable leading from Cienfuegos, Cuba, 11 May 1898. Facing the heavy fire of the enemy, Rilley displayed extraordinary bravery and coolness throughout this action”

From www.homeofheroes.com: “The mission was a daring operation to cut undersea cables linking the Spanish fortifications at Cienfuegos with the rest of the world. Destruction of the cables was ordered to disrupt communications. In two boats, sailors from the USS Nashville and the USS Marblehead were joined by a Marine guard as they moved within 15 feet of the enemy shore, under fire from the hidden enemy, to dredge up and cut two such cables. During the 80 minute operation, the cable cutting party was under constant enemy fire from a short range, while they coolly dredged the cables across the bow of their boats, then cut through them with hacksaws.”

Mr. Rilley was born in 1877 in Allentown PA, and died in Salem November 16, 1950.  Riley Plaza, across from the Salem Post Office, is named in his memory.

Friends of Greenlawn would like to thank Mr. Don Morfe for his kind permission to use his images in this post. 

Notables Buried at Greenlawn: Reverend Jacob Stroyer

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This is the first of occasional posts about notable Salemites and Northshore residents buried at Greenlawn.

Reverend Jacob Stroyer (1848-1908) was an author, social reformer and an African Methodist Episcopal minister. He was born a plantation slave in South Carolina and in 1864 was wounded by a shellburst during the Union bombardment of Fort Sumter, as he and other slaves were pressed into the dangerous work of repairing Confederate installations during the Civil War. Reverend Stroyer moved to Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1870. He was licensed as a preacher in Newport and was ordained a deacon. He then moved to Salem to preach and he became a pastor of the Salem Colored Mission.

Reverend Stroyer wrote “My Life in the South” which detailed his life as a slave and is the only known autobiography of an ex-slave in South Carolina. Published in 1879, it’s been reprinted many times and continues to be a valuable resource for historians and academicians regarding the social customs, slave hierarchy and day-to-day lives of African-American slaves in the antebellum South.  In a recommendation of the book when it was published, Salemite John Wright Buckham noted “His memory is remarkably keen and his narrative is vivid and at times both touching and thrilling”

Rev. Stroyer’s grave is at the intersection of Anemone Ave. and Thorn Ave., close to where Thorn intersects with Olive Ave.

Friends of Greenlawn thanks “Bob on Gallows Hill” who kindly allowed the use of his images from the Find-A-Grave website.