Riley Garrett was born in August of 1846 in Ohio, the son of Robert (b. 1804 in New York) and step-son of Eurana C. “Ranie” Stillwell (b. 1820 in New York).
Riley’s family moved from New York and settled in Ohio sometime in the 1840s, and Riley may have been living in Sub-division 2 of Muhlenberg, Kentucky in 1850. Robert eventually left Ohio (or Kentucky) and by 1855 had settled his family in Michigan. By 1860 Riley was working as a farm laborer and attending school with his younger siblings and living on the family farm in Jamestown, Ottawa County.
Riley stood 5’4” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was an 18-year-old farmer probably living in Jamestown, Ottawa County when he enlisted in Company I on December 18, 1861 for 3 years at Grand Rapids, crediting Ottawa County, and was mustered the same day. (Company I was made up largely of men from Ottawa County, particularly from the eastern side of the County.)
He was transferred to Company I 5th Michigan Infantry upon consolidation of the 3rd and 5th Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and was reported on detached service from August through October. In November he was on detached service as a nurse at City Point hospital, and was mustered out on December 8, 1864 near Petersburg, Virginia.
Riley probably returned to Michigan after the war. (His parents may have been living in Grand Rapids’ 3rd Ward, Kent County in 1870.)
He married Ohio native Lucy or Lucia Clark (1850-1875), and they had at least two children: Harley (1868-1872) and Harry or Harold (1872-1851).
Riley may have been living in Michigan in 1872 when his son Harry was born, but apparently moved out west soon afterwards. In any case, Lucy reportedly died in Kansas and by 1880 Riley was a widower and working as a farmer in North Fork, Sweetwater County, Wyoming. By 1890 he was living in Lander, Fremont County, Wyoming.
Riley married Missouri native Sarah Jane Coats Westbrook (1864-1930) at West Plains, Missouri, on May 28, 1900; she had been widowed twice before. They had at least one child, a son: Riley E. Garrett (1904-1905).
Sarah and Riley were living in Lander, Wyoming in 1900.
In 1892 he applied for and received a pension (no. 849810), drawing $12 per month by 1906.
Riley died on January 8, 1907, in Lander, Wyoming. According to the Wind River Mountaineer
Mr. Garrett died at his home on Lower North Fork at three o'clock Tuesday afternoon, being taken sick at an early hour that morning of neuralgia of the stomach. All was done for him that possibly could be, but the science of doctors could not prevail, and he was gathered to the home of his fathers.
The funeral took place on Thursday from the Methodist Episcopal church in Lander, and in honor to the deceased Mayor Johnson issued a proclamation requesting that all business houses remain closed during the hours from 1:30 to 3 p.m. The funeral was largely attended, not only by friends and neighbors of the deceased on North Fork but by the people from Lander and other portions of the county as well, all of whom were anxious to show their respect to the deceased.
Mr. Garrett was one of the pioneers of Fremont County, and left a substantial ranch on North Fork to show for his industry and integrity. He leaves a wife, son and other relatives to mourn his taking away. The memory of such men as Riley Garrett is all the monument necessary on this earth.
Riley buried along with his son in Mount Hope Cemetery in Lander.
In 1908 his widow was living in Guthrie, Oklahoma, when she applied for a pension (no. 892,849). It was rejected on the grounds that she had married Riley after 1890.