“Grace” may have been the name Mrs. Thomas Riley’s parents gave her at birth, but it is also the manner in which she chose to live her life. As a girl in Mount Olivia, North Carolina, at the turn of the twentieth century, Grace was level-headed, considerate, and driven. When Thomas, her older second cousin, asked for her hand in marriage, she joyfully accepted. Thus began a partnership in nearby Weston Ridge that nurtured four strong-willed children, built a booming business in the tobacco industry, and produced an exquisite estate, Rilea, and thriving community.
Rather than being content to focus solely on her home and family, Grace boldly undertook a variety of causes, including social reform for women and children. After the untimely death of Thomas, Grace remarried. Feeling such profound love for her new husband, Jonathan, Grace wanted to have children with him too. Doing so was dangerous for Grace but she wanted Jonathan to experience the wonder of life and love that she so greatly enjoyed throughout her full–but tragically short–life.
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