Riley R. Kent was born in 1826 in New York.
Riley moved to Michigan probably in the early 1850s.
He was married to Michigan native Eliza Ann Lockwood (1839-1877), and they probably had at least three children: Robert and/or William (b. 1864), Ellen or Helen and/or Tryphena E. (b. 1869) and Leoni and/or Emma (b. 1871).
By 1860 Riley was working as a painter and living with his wife in Lansing’s First Ward; also living with them was one Charles Lockwood (b. 1853).
When war broke out he reportedly joined the “Williams’ Rifles” in Lansing, a local militia company whose members would form the nucleus of Company G. Indeed he stood 5’10” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was 35 years old when he enlisted in Company G on May 10, 1861. On August 18, 1861, one of Lansing’s local politicians wrote to Michigan Adjutant General John Robertson on behalf of Kent’s wife, who wanted a pass to visit her husband in Washington, DC. It is unknown if she ever went east during 1861.
Although Riley remained with the Regiment, by late November of 1861 he was suffering from what one of his comrades described as some form of “paralysis.” He eventually recovered, however, and by early May of 1862 Riley was one of three men from Company G detailed to serve in the Brigade pioneer corps.
According to Edgar Clark of Company G, Mrs. Kent joined her husband on Tuesday afternoon, September 23, 1862. “They was glad to see each other,” Clark observed. “She said she will never go home until he goes. No one can tell when that will be.”
Riley was reported as a company launderer from October through December of 1862, and it is quite likely that his wife helped him. Edgar Clark wrote home on May 15, 1863, that he only “sees Mrs. Kent once a week when I go after my clothes.”
Riley reenlisted on December 24, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Brandon, Oakland County. He was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough in January of 1864 and probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February. In March he was serving at Division headquarters, was on detached service in May and was still on detached service, probably with the wagon trains, when he was transferred to Company F, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864.
Riley probably remained detached until he was transferred to Company C on November 1, 1864, near Petersburg, Virginia, by Regimental order (although there is no Record of him found in Company C’s descriptive rolls). He was mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.
Riley eventually returned to his home in Michigan. By 1870 he was working as a hotel keeper (he owned some $3000 worth of real estate) and living with his wife Eliza and two children (son William and infant daughter Ellen) in Marathon, Lapeer County. By 1880 he was working as a farmer and listed as a widower and living with three children (his son Robert, and his daughters Hellen and Leoni) in Marathon, Lapeer County; also living with them was a housekeeper named Jane Bowles.
He was a widower living in Marathon when he remarried to Canadian native Margaret A. Spears (nee McCoy b. 1843), on September 2, 1880, in Hadley, Lapeer County. (She was from Millville, Michigan.)
Riley was living in Michigan 1881 (?) when he applied for a pension (application no. 414794), but the certificate was never granted.
Riley died on December 22, 1883, in Marathon, Lapeer, Michigan, and is presumably buried there.
In 1883 his widow Margaret A., then living in Columbiaville, Lapeer County, applied for a pension (application no. 301387), but her claim was abandoned probably as a consequence of her remarrying a man named Bryan or Bryon. Two years later Nicholas Wolf of Ortonville, Oakland County, was listed as the guardian for two minor children reportedly to belong to Riley Kent when he applied for a minor child’s pension (application no. 330404), but again that claim, too, was abandoned. In fact the children did not appear to be Riley’s at all. They were two girls Tryphena E. (b. 1869) and Emma (b. 1871).