RAY, Samuel: Biographical Sketch
RAY, TOMPKINS, DAVIDSON, SUTTON, MENKE, NEWSOM, WATTS
Posted By: Volunteer: Sherri
Date: 1/4/2017 at 04:46:52
THURSDAY, JULY 8, 1937
**Handwritten: V.B. Record 8 July 1937
(The following biographical sketch was prepared for the paper by the historical committee of the Centennial celebration.)
The fourth family to locate in Bonaparte was Samuel Ray. Mr. Ray came from New York state and was married to Elizabeth Tompkins. The family consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Ray and three sons, John, who was born in Bonaparte in 1838, Charles who was born in 1845, and Samuel Jr. who died young.
Mr. Ray was a manufacturer in a small way, being a maker of fanning mills. As this was the day before the threshing machine, grain was either flailed or tramped out and it was necessary to separate the grain from the chaff; so the fanning mill was a very helpful tool in those days when so much of the work depended on hand labor. Mr. Ray had the distinction of making the first fanning mill west of the Mississippi river. His shop stood on the lot where the Karl Keck home now is.
When the gold rush of '49 was at its height Mr. Ray, with others, went overland to the cost in search of the yellow metal. History doesn't tell us how well he succeeded along that line but he at least had some experiences. Coming back from the west Mr. Ray located near La Belle, Mo., on a half section of land. There he lived to the end of his days.
It might be interesting to note that after locating on the farm near La Belle and for a good many years thereafter, Mr. Ray would make the trip three or four times per year with his grist and wool to the Meek's Mills, this being the nearest place where such services could be obtained. As La Belle is 50 miles from Bonaparte it shows that the business of this firm covered a scope of territory.
John Ray went with the family to La Belle and succeeded to the farm on the death of his father. John Ray was married to Joan Davidson of Bonaparte and three children came to the home, Emma, who married Jack Sutton of Mt. Sterling, and who died several years ago; Anice, who was married to Ed Menke of La Belle, who, with a son, lives on part of the old homestead; and John Ray Jr., who is now living in California.
Charles B. Ray, the other son of Samuel Ray, was married to Sarah Newsom of Farmington. The only child to this union is Mrs. Frank Watts of Bonaparte.
Mr. Ray at the breaking out of the war was a strong abolitionist and upheld that theory regardless of the fact that he was living in a strong "secesh" neighborhood. Mr. Ray lived to a good old age, passing away at the age of 95. He lived at a time when in order to be a good pioneer it took courage, sacrifice, good rugged health and plenty of work. We people of today little realize the hardships these pioneers endured and we should give them full credit for the noble work they did in leaving us this wonderful heritage.
Source: Van Buren Co. Genealogical Society Obituary Book H, Page 53, Keosauqua Public Library, Keosauqua, IA
Van Buren Biographies maintained by Rich Lowe.
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