Wiley, Benjamin L.

Born: 1821-03-25 Smithfield, Ohio

Died: 1890-03-22 Makanda, Illinois

Wiley was raised by Quakers and trained to be a carpenter under his father. He moved to Vienna, Illinois, in 1845 and began working as a teacher. Following the outbreak of the Mexican War, Wiley enlisted in the 5th Illinois Infantry and served through the conflict to 1848. He moved to Jonesboro in 1849, where he worked as a carpenter and then as a store clerk, a position he held until 1853. In 1850, he married Emily Davie, with whom he had nine children. A Whig and, later, Republican, Wiley helped start and edit the Jonesboro Gazette. In 1853, he briefly worked as a traveling salesman for the St. Louis firm of Eddy, Jamieson, & Co. but soon moved back to Jonesboro and worked in a hardware business. Wiley unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1856 and opened a real estate office in Anna the following year with David L. Phillips and L. W. Ashley. He left the business in 1860 to start a farm in Makanda. He enlisted in the 5th Illinois Cavalry during the secession crisis and served as a lieutenant-colonel. Wiley spent the first two years of the war in the Trans-Mississippi theater until he was transferred to Vicksburg in the summer of 1863, where he commanded a large portion of Ulysses S. Grant's cavalry. He resigned from the army due to illness shortly after Vicksburg fell and served as the enrolling commissioner of Cairo until the end of the war.

History of Jackson County, Illinois (Philadelphia: Brink, McDonough, 1878), 102; Gravestone, Evergreen Cemetery, Makanda, Illinois.