Ancestor Stories - Ray Family

Thomas Franklin Ray

Thomas Franklin Ray was born to James Carroll Ray and Lucinda Attilla Wade Ray. He spent his youth in Marshall County, KY. Move to Corning, Clay Co, Arkasas where he bought a printing press and went about the business of newspaper editor. Later he moved to Poplar Bluff MO where he owned a business. Thomas did not have children but he left us a great gift including a hand-written family history. Sherrill Ray, distant cousin by marriage, came upon some documents and a newspaper article on Thomas that really gives us insight into this man, my great great uncle.


  • 15 Sep 1853 - born Henry Co, TN
  • Lived in Marshall Co, KY
  • 1879 - Moved to Corning, Arkansas to start the "Advocate" Newspaper
  • 1880 - enumerated in Clay Co, Arkansas
  • Married Lousia Stokley Akers
  • 1883 - Louisa died and is buried at Corning Cemetery
  • 14 Jul 1880 - Married Addie Boswell Jackson
  • 1884 - elected Mayor of Corning, Arkansas
  • 12 Jun 1889 - Elected officer of the Masons
  • 1894 - Thomas Ray in the hardware and furniture business
  • 1900 - enumerated in Poplar Bluff, MO
  • 1910 - enumerated in Poplar Bluff, MO
  • 1920 - enumerated in Poplar Bluff, MO
  • 1922 - lived at 427 N Main, Poplar Bluff MO
  • 2 January 1922 - Addie Boswell Jackson died
  • 1930 - enumerated in Poplar Bluff, MO
  • Dec 1938 - Read the letter, page 2 that he wrote to his niece, Ruby Ray
  • 5 Apr 1940 - Died Popular Bluff, MO
  • 1940 - Buried City Cemetery(other reference identifies McGuire Cemetery), Poplar Bluff, Butler Co., Missouri

George Ray was the informant on Thomas Ray's death certificate. (Source: Missouri Digital Heritage. I'm not sure who George Ray was.

Thomas Franklin Ray

Ray Family History written by Thomas Ray

These documents are with family members. If you copy and repost, please give credit to Sherrill Ray for her work scanning them.

Preface and Introductions

Some pages seem to be drafts of the newspaper article that is typed up at the end of of this page.

Thomas Franklin Ray Introduction

Thomas Franklin Ray was a man of time. Remember when reading these pages that he was born before the Civil War. These notes all seem to be written in the 1930's. Note: Thomas lists his paternal grandparents as Hicks Johnson Ray and Ruth Ray. The nee Harmon? probably belongs either to his great grandmother or to his maternal grandmother.

Information More About His Ancestry

Thomas tells the story as he remembers it of his grandfather Hix Ray and his Great Grandfather [Nathaniel Ray], who according to Thomas's memory came from Scotland. Researchers have not proven nor disproved the trip from Scotland at this point. The brothers named in the history can be verified by the Estate Settlement of Nathaniel Ray Jr. d. 1823, Allen Co, KY.

Many researchers have taken a leap of faith that Nathaniel Jr's father was Nathaniel Sr. of Brunswick Co, VA. At this point, no one has been able to verify that information with documentation.

Hix Jones Ray Notes

Great Grandfather Ray

Civil War Memories

Most of this section deals with the murder of Uncle Calvin Ray and his brother-in-law, Mr. Everts. But also mentioned in the story is Thomas's Uncle John [Milton] Ray who was wounded many times during battle. John survived and went on to serve in the state legislature. Please note this correction from Genealogist Bill Utterback, "A fascinating group of narratives. All very interesting, indeed. The only historic error I spotted was in the letter about John Ray, in which it is said that, in the raid on Paducah, "...his Colonel, Jeff.Thompson was killed by a cannon ball." The office who was decapitated by that cannon ball was Albert Petty Thompson(a man on whom I have done a great deal of research), rather than Jeff, but that is a common error often seen, as there was, in fact, a Jeff Thompson, who was a well known officer in the Civil War."

Maternal Family Tree Information - Wade Surname

Thomas's mother was Lucinda Wade. His grandfather, Allen Wade, can be verified via 1850 census records for Henry County, TN where an Allen Wade has several children and among them were 3 sons: Robert Allan Wade, John Wade, and Josiah Alexander Wade. This is the first time in more than 25 years that I have found a reference to Lucinda's family.

Census Records

1870 Census Record - Brewer's Mill, Marshall County, Kentucky

(Thomas is about 17 but not listed with his parents in Marshall Co, KY.)
James C. Ray, age 48, male, white, farmer, born TN
Lucinda, age , female, white, born TN
Susan L, age 25, born KY
Wilburn W., age 21, born KY
Malisa E, age 19, born KY
Willie, age 11, farmer, born TN
John M, age 9, born TN
Willie, age 7, born KY
Rosie, age 3, born KY (married E.O. Crawford)

1880 Census Corning, Clay Co, Arkansas

Thomas Franklin Ray's 1st wife:
Louiza Akers, age 25 Birthdate: 1855, Illinois
Relationship to Head: Daughter-in-law
Father's Birthplace: Illinois, United States
Mother's Birthplace: Illinois, United States
Martial Status: Widowed
Elizabeth Akers, F, 54 head of household
George W. Akers, M, 29
Mary A. Akers, F, 17

1880 Corning, Clay, MO

Thomas F. Ray, age 26, born TN, brother, father born TN, mother born TN, newspaper editor
John M. Ray, born 1861, TN, brother, father born TN, mother born TN printer's devil
Malinda C. Ivey, F, age 36, widowed, born KY, father born TN, mother born TN
James S. Rhodes, M, age 18, other, born MO, father born OH, mother born IN, printer

1900 Poplar Bluff, Butler Co, MO

Thomas Ray, 46, born Sept 1853, Tennessee, father born TN, mother born TN
Spouse's Name: Ada D Ray, married 1896, 1 child born, 0 living
Mary A Brasewell 74 , mother-in-law born Georgia
Birdie Cox 24, adopted daughter, born Alabama, father born VA, mother born Alabama
Edward M Robinson 29, lodger
William R Foley 28 lodger
Harry M Hamil 24 lodger
Ida Frantz 27 lodger

1910 Poplar Bluff, Butler Co, MO

Tomas F Ray 57, 3 children born, 2 living, born KY, father born UNK, mother born UNK
Addie B Ray 55, 0 children born, 0 living, born GA
Martha A Browell 84, mother in law

1920 Poplar Bluff, Butler Co, MO

Thos F Ray, age 66, born ca 1854, TN
Addie B Ray, wife, age 65, born GA
Jno T Walton 79, roomer
Ed Eustis 81, roomer
Lucile Eustis 80, roomer
Schuyler T Kendall, roomer
Blanche B Kendall, roomer
Irene Blase 25, roomer
English 32, roomer
Florrida Curry 45, roomer

1930 Poplar Bluff, Butler Co, MO

Thomas Ray, age 76, wd., born TN, father born TN, mother born TN, collector for city light and power

Clay County Courier Narratives



Thos. F Ray and E Perkins have bought a printing press and brought it to Corning and we now have two weekly paper. The newcomers title is the Advocate. The business has begun business in the one story frame building on West Second Street., North of the home of Sarah Mullins on Pine.

The election board for the coming election on annexing Upper Corning ; Judges, G.L. Waugh, John Gilbert, and S. Bishop. Clerks A. J. Harb and Tom F Ray.


Louisa, wife of Thomas F. Ray, editor of The Corning Advocate, died at the Ray home, Wednesday. Services were conducted at the home Thursday afternoon by Rev. James F. Jernigan of the Methodist Church and burial was in the Corning Cemetery. Mrs. Ray was a fine Christian woman and will be missed by her many friends.

A marriage of interest to Corning socialites was performed by J.P. W. B. Harb at the Harb home on Second Street last Saturday, August 15, when W. H. Ray, editor of "The Corning Advocate" and Miss Laura A. Green, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. M. M. Green, were united in the bonds of holy matrimony. The young couple have set up housekeeping on Market Street. The Courier joins their many friends in wishing future happiness on the seas of matrimony.


The municipal election last Tuesday resulted in the election of Thos. F. Ray as mayor, Thos. B. Staley, recorder, G. W. Stephens, Felix G. Taylor, W. P. Lawson, D. G. See, Jacob Brobst, aldermen. The Council will meet regularly at the Staley Drug Store, First and Elm, every month.


The Masonic Lodge of Corning met at their hall Sunday evening June 29, and publicly installed their officers for the ensuing year as follows: W.T. Davis, W.M.; T.F. Ray, S.W ; J.J. Cook; H. Barnhill secretary and S. Bishop, treasurer.


City of Corning officials; Mayor, Jacob Brobst, Recorder, T. B. Staley, Treasurer T. F. Ray, Marshal, J. E. Mathews, Aldermen; C.C. Symonds, B. F. Mc Daniels, W. D. Bowers, J. C. Staley, G. W. Box.


A.L. Barnett's new brick double store on first street approaches completion ad looks like a city building with its splendid glass front and in really the handsomest and the best store in Corning. Mr Barnett will soon transfer his large stock of general merchandise from his present quarters into the building William Felsberg is the architect and builder of the woodwork in the new building, and show plainly that he is entirely equal to the occasion and is a first-class artist. E. H. Clark and Sons are to be praised for the brickwork. T. F. Ray the hardware and furniture dealer of Poplar Bluff, furnished the tin roof.


Thomas F. (Uncle Tom) Ray, one of Poplar Bluff's best known citizens and for many years active in civic, fraternal and church affairs, died peacefully at his home in the Ray Apartments on North Main Street, Friday. Thomas Franklin Ray was born on September 15, 1853 in Henry County, Tenn., near Paris; grew to manhood there and in Marshall County, Ky., on his parents' farm and as a clerk in a general merchandise store. In the autumn of 1879 he located in Corning, Arkansas, and established the Corning Advocate, a weekly newspaper which he edited and published until the fall of 1885 when he sold the paper and engaged in the mercantile business. He was made a Mason on November 29, 1884 at Corning.

T. F. Ray Preferred Life in Open Rather Than Studying Books

by James Hendrickson "Poplar Bluff Daily American Republic" Dec 12, 1936 page 1

Thomas Franklin Ray

Events in the average human life are the subjects of the headlines in newspapers, the plot and the climax of fiction and the interest that people have in one another.

A king, head of the largest empire in the work, renounces his throne for the love of a woman. A transient may invent an object of importance, or he may save a life.

From the highest to the lowest regardless, we are interested in life that greatest mystery.

Several persons have been the subjects of personality sketches since the feature was started in the newspaper a few weeks ago and the interest has proven worthy of the effort.

Today let's study some of the events in the life of another prominent Poplar Bluffian, a man who has been an active figure here for ears, a man who has constantly maintained the high standard of the regard of his fellow citizens - Thomas Franklin Ray.

Mr. Ray has already passed his 83rd year of life. He was born on September 15, 1858 and in 17 years he will have been on this earth a century.

* * *

Mr. Ray was the fifth of the family of 11 children, seven boys and four girls. He and one brother and a sister are the only members of the family now living. Their father James Carroll Ray, was a man of diversified attainments - farmer, mechanic, shoe and saddle maker, photographer, justice of the peace and for many years presiding judge for the county court of claims and active in church and temperance work. He maintained a workshop equipped wit the best of tools, a foot-power lathe and assisted boys and girls who were mechanically inclined.

Wagons, buggies, coffins, spinning wheels, weaving looms, sorghum mills, furniture and other supplies were made by the Mr. Ray Sr.

Because he was a maker of coffins he was excused from service in the Civil War, although several relatives served in the Confederate army and one brother-in-law in the Federal army. On Mrs. Ray's side, three brothers and a nephew were in the southern service.

T. F. Ray has a limited school education not that his father was desirous that he should have, but not being very robust in health the confinement of the schoolroom was irksome to him and he preferred to work on the farm and out doors.

* * *

"In 1874 I entered a country store as clerk and bookkeeper," he says, recalling the early jobs which he enjoyed. "I was appointed deputy county clerk and in 1879 came to Corning, Ark. where I purchased newspaper equipment and began publication of the Advocate, a weekly newspaper.

He sold that newspaper in 1885 and engaged in general merchandise business, finally coming to Poplar Bluff in the autumn of 1889, engaging in the hardware and furniture business which he kept for 17 years. He then joined the force of the Poplar Bluff Ice and Fuel Company as bookkeeper, collector and office man. He retired in 1932.

He has held the following official positions: Deputy county clerk and deputy postmaster in Marshall County, KY, recorder and mayor, two terms each at Corning, ARK; city treasurer, two terms, at Poplar Bluff; notary public of Butler County, two four-year terms; school enumerator here six years.

Mr. Ray has also the honor of having been alternate delegate to the Democratic national convention in St Louis in 1888 and a delegate to the fourth American Peace Congress which met there in 1918.

* * *

One of the important events in his life, however, was when he was made a Master Mason in 1884, in Orient Lodge at Corning Ark. He assisted in organizing the Poplar Bluff Royal Arch Chapter No. 114 in 1888 and Poplar Bluff Council No. 27, Royal and Select masters, in 1894, being a charter member of each lodge and has been treasurer of the former and recorder of the latter since their organization. He is also a member of the Poplar Bluff Commandery No. 67 Knights Templar.

For several ears he was a member and secretary of the Order of teh Eastern Star and a member of the Poplar Bluff Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. While conducting his newspaper at Corning, he was an active member of the Arkansas Press Association.

Mr Ray's first wife was Mrs. Louise V. Akers (Nee Stokely) who died in 1883. His second wife Mrs. Addie B. Jackson died in 1922. He is a member of the First Christian Church and his proverbial love for little children is his chief characteristic.

In 1877 he witnessed from the Kentucky bank of the Mississippi River the race of the steamboats Robert E. Lee and the Natchez. The crowd on the Cairo side was so dense, he said, that sight of the boats was doubtful and the ferry boat had advanced the crossing fare for 50 cents - an item in those days.

* * *

"It was said that after passing Cairo, hundreds of bacon sides were thrown into the furnaces of the Robert E. Lee to accelerate the speed." Mr. Ray recalls. "They must have had some fine boilers. The Lee won the race."

In the spring of that year he made a trip on horseback from West Kentucky to Trenton, Tenn., leading two other horses. The Obion River was out of its banks and covering a wide area of the surrounding territory.

"In many places the roads were water and the only way to determine their location was to watch the opening between the trees." said Mr. Ray. "A bridge crossing Forked Deer River was a veritable teetering board, giving down about two feet at each end under weight of the horses. It was reported that the bridge floated several miles downstream the day after I crossed."

At the American Peace Congress in St Louis, he met and was introduced to Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Carnegie, ex-Vice President Fairbanks, U. S. Senator Seldon P. Spencer, ex-governor and alter Ambassador to Russia David R. Francis and many othe rnotables, some of whom were delegates from South American republics and heard the speeches delivered by them at the meetings. He as a copy of the proceedings of the Congress, a copy of the proceedings of the Arkansas Press Association, a letter from Jefferson Davis, former president of the Southern Confederacy, and an autographed poem by James Whitcomb Riley, as well as many letters from other noted personages.

* * *

"I can recall meeting with General Grant," he says. "It was in 1884 or 1885 when the general was enroute to his old home at Galena, ILL., from his trip around the world. He stopped over in Little Rock and was accorded a most hearty welcome by the capital city and the state.

"Although Arkansas had been an outstanding Confederate state, it had not fogotten the general's attitude toward General Lee and his war weary veterans at Appomattox."

"I went down to Little Rock and in the course of the day I met Dick Furquharof the Gazette Staff, who inquired if I had met the general." He was taken to the hotel room where the general was staying.

"The general was very cordial and invited us to be seated," said Mr. Ray. "A short time later, Mrs. Grant and her traveling companion, Miss Chamberlain, entered and were introduced by the general. That night I attended a banquet at Concordia Hall given in honor of the ex-president. Speeches were delivered by the general, by Mayor John G. Gletcher, Opie Read, M. W. Gibbs and others. Gibbs was a receiver of state lands and had been a deputy of U. S. treasurer under B. K. Bruce, the only Negro treasurer the nation has ever had. Gibbs was a bright mulatto, but was held in esteem for his honorable dealings, courteous manner and interest in civic undertakings."

In 1891 Mr. Ray subscribed for a share of stock and assisted in the organization of Poplar Bluff’s first telephone system. Mr. Gehrig of Memphis, Tenn., Charles Langley, J. Perry Johnson and Mr. Ray composed the first board of stockholders.

In a letter to this paper a year or so ago, E. W. Hoag, former editor and publisher of the Citizen in this city, and now living in California, said "Tom Ray can make more friends and keep them than any man I have ever known."