An Excerpt from the book-
On Sunday morning, October seventh, 1849, Reuben A. Riley and his
wife, Elizabeth Marine Riley, rejoiced over the birth of their
second son. They called him James Whitcomb. This was in a shady
little street in the shady little town of Greenfield, which is in
the county of Hancock and the state of Indiana. The young James
found a brother and a sister waiting to greet him--John Andrew
and Martha Celestia, and afterward came Elva May--Mrs. Henry
Eitel-- Alexander Humbolt and Mary Elizabeth, who, of all, alone
lives to see this collection of her brother's poems.
James Whitcomb was a slender lad, with corn-silk hair and wide
blue eyes. He was shy and timid, not strong physically, dreading
the cold of winter, and avoiding the rougher sports of his
playmates. And yet he was full of the spirit of youth, a spirit
that manifested itself in the performance of many ingenious
pranks. His every-day life was that of the average boy in the
average country town of that day, but his home influences were
exceptional. His father, who became a captain of cavalry in the
Civil War, was a lawyer of ability and an orator of more than
local distinction. His mother was a woman of rare strength of
character combined with deep sympathy and a clear understanding.
Together, they made home a place to remember with thankful heart.
When James was twenty years old, the death of his mother made a
profound impression on him, an impression that has influenced
much of his verse and has remained with him always.