John Ewing Risley, born 1843 in Indiana, completed his schooling in and passed his bar in 1860 in Terre Haute then moved to New York in 1864 where he “hung out his shingle.” Risley married Mary Caroline, the sister of Senator Daniel Voorhees of Indiana. He lived in New Jersey and New York. From 1893-1897 he was the ‘Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary’ for Denmark. He had business dealings in real estate and participated in several railway ventures. In his capacity as a lawyer he represented numerous individuals filing for claims against the US government for losses during the civil war. He passed away in August 1912.New York, NY: 1857 - 1914. "The personnel and business archives of John Ewing Risley (1840 – 1912) a prominent New York lawyer, businessman, and real estate mogul, comprised of over 2300 letters and documents. A brief summary of each section follows. For the complete description contact us. Spreadsheets detailing the specifics on the collection are available upon request.
In 1893, was appoint by President Grover Cleveland to the post of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States to Denmark. He served in this post until he was recalled by President William McKinley in 1897. During his tenue in Denmark, Risley would become a highly sought-after guest and was popular even amongst the common people of Denmark. This collection has been divided into four categories: Social, Official Business of the Legation, Financials, and Miscellaneous. The collection has an approximate total of 690 pieces, and has been organized either alphabetically or chronologically depending on the category. The dates of the collection range from 1893 to 1898. Additionally, there is an Excel database of the individuals/groups within the collection.
A collection of 450 plus letters and documents relating to the railway business dealing and investments of New York lawyer John Ewing Risley. Although born in 1840 in Indiana, his law practice operated mostly out of New York City. Along with his investments in a variety of railways out west, Risley was known for a variety of high profile legal cases and as Ambassador to Denmark from 1840 – 1897. Risley’s railway dealings showcase what was one of the most was a turbulent time for railway companies, with enterprises both being founded and falling into bankruptcy with remarkable frequency. By the mid-1890s approximately one fourth of railroads in the US had failed. This represented well over 40,000 miles of track. These failures were often the result of railroad overbuilding and shaky railroad financing. While this collection includes a variety material from several railways that Risley invested in, the bulk of the material deals with two railway routes: the Cleveland, St. Louis & Kansas City Railway and the Indianapolis, Decatur, and Western Railway Company. The two railways Risley and his partners invested in, would eventually fail, mainly due to a variety of legal battles. A synopsis of the events of each railway during the time Risley owned them is provided further on in this description. The collection dates from 1870 to 1904, with the bulk of the material from 1889 to 1893. While the majority of the collection is correspondence (letters and telegrams), there is also an assortment of legal agreements and ephemera. In total, the collection has over 250 letters, 65 telegrams, 100 legal documents, 40 pieces of ephemera (misc. envelopes, notes, name cards, etc.), and 2 notebooks. Additionally, there is an excel database available listing the various individuals, railways, and companies associated with this collection. The materials within this collection highlight an important time in US history, and showcases the various back dealing, competition, and political vying that went on as railroad companies rose as fast as they fell.
As noted above each section is accompanied by a database. The database in this section includes particulars on the Railroads, Individuals, the Mortgage companies, Construction companies and the Courts involved in the transactions. The railroads include Baltimore and Ohio Southwestern Railroad Co., Central Missouri Railroad, Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railway Co., Cincinnati, Hamilton & Indianapolis Railway Co., Cincinnati, Indianapolis, & Western Railway Co., Cleveland, St Louis and Kansas City Railway Co., Cleveland, St Louis, & Kansas City Railroad, Indianapolis and Wabash Railway Co., Indianapolis, Decatur, and Western Railway Co., Indianapolis, Decatur, Springfield Railway Co., Indianapolis, Quincy, and Missouri River Railway, Missouri Midland Railway Co., St. Louis & Kansas City Short Line, St. Louis Alton, and Kansas City Railway Co. and St. Louis and Chicago Railway Co.
A collection with approximately 1,190 pieces relating to the personal life and law practice of John Ewing Risley (1840 – 1912). Born in Indiana, completed his schooling and passed his bar in 1860 in Terre Haute before then moved to New York in 1864. The majority of this collection stems from after he moved to New York. Risley was involved in several prominent legal cases, mainly stemming from various war claims. He was also involved in real estate, owning several investment properties and also acting as a banker providing mortgage loans to individuals. He also invested heavily into a variety of different business, such as a timber company in Panama, and mines out west. On a personal level, he was very interest in the genealogy of Risley family, and was able to trace back his linage to 1275. In 1893 Risley was appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Denmark by President Grover Cleveland and was recalled in 1897 by President William McKinley. It appears that around this time, Risley suffered some heavy financial losses. This is most likely due to the fact that as an ambassador, he only received a nominal salary from the US Government, and legally could not continue to practice law. Risley passed away on August 8th, 1912. This collection dates from 1857 to 1914, and has been organized into five sections: Business, Legal, Family, Real Estate and Miscellaneous. Unless otherwise stated the materials, themselves have been arranged first by category, then chronologically. Additionally, there is an Excel database of the individuals and companies Risley was involved with.