Biography of David Ray


History of Columbia County, New York

By Captain Franklin Ellis

Published by Everts & Ensign

Philadelphia, PA



Pages  298 & 299


        David Ray was born in the town of Chatham, Columbia Co., N. Y., Ninth month 18, 1804, and has always resided there.  He is the son of Francis Ray, who was born on the island of Nantucket, Mass., Ninth month 17, 1776.  The family were of Scotch descent.

     David Ray was married to Lydia M. Anthony, the 5th of Fifth month, 1831.  She was the daughter of Daniel Anthony, of Saratoga, N. Y., who was born at Dartmouth, Mass., First month 2, 1776.  His family were of English descent.

     In early life his educational advantages were very limited, being such only as were afforded by the low standard of the common schools of that day.  But he possessed a mind eager for knowledge, and by his own exertions made himself thoroughly conversant with the progressive, practical, general knowledge of the times so that there were but few subjects not of an abstruse character which had not received his careful attention.  Later in life he has thought, read, and reflected much upon the problems which occupy the greatest minds of that age, and few among his contemporaries are better qualified to pass a critical judgment upon them.  Bred to the occupation of a mechanic, in the same line which had been pursued by his ancestors for several generations, it was his intention to follow his trade for a livelihood; but soon after arriving at manhood he changed this purpose and became a merchant, which pursuit he followed with a fair share of success for half a century.  The latter portion of his business years he was also interested in agricultural pursuits.

     In his religious convictions he is earnest and decided.  He made choice of his religious faith because of its adaptability to the needs of man.  From early life he became convinced of the doctrines promulgated by the religious society of Friends, and of the great and paramount principles taught by Fox, Penn, and their coadjutors,--obedience to the light of Christ in the soul of man as sufficient for saving grace; opposition to all wars and fightings; the best rule of life, "Peace on earth and good-will to men."  In all the varied relations of life,--social, moral, and religious,--it is safe to say that he has striven to perform his duty among men according to his ability and best convictions of right and justice.  It has been a maxim with him, "Whoever is willing to labor can always find something to do,"  and this he has seen often exemplified in the case of earnest, industrious young men thrown upon their own resources.  They have proven that "where there is a will there is a way,"  and have not only found employment, but in it have risen to stations of responsibility and honor.  This doctrine becomes of especial interest now, when there are so many tramps excusing themselves for idleness on the ground that they cannot find employment.  While Mr. Ray would be the last to be uncharitable or unhelpful towards this class of person, he would nevertheless strenuously inculcate the doctrine that many of them might find employment in some honest occupation if they were really willing to work.

     An ardent devotee of the science of pomology, Mr. Ray has exerted a large influence in that direction.  The public are much indebted to him for the dissemination of new and choice varieties of fruits in the neighborhood.  Few, if any, in the town have accomplished more in this respect than he.  In the erection of buildings, according to his temporal ability, he has also done his full share to improve and beautify the neighborhood.  In the economy of time he has been ardently laborious, and has rarely found leisure from the constant demands made upon him by the ever-near and varied interest of the age.

     His marital relations were blessed by the birth of four sons,--Daniel A. Ray, born Eighth month 21, 1833; married at White Plains, Ninth month 30, 1856, Phila R. daughter of John and Jeanette (Taylor) Sutton, born in Norfolk, Va., Twelfth month 7, 1832.  His residence is Springfield, Ill.  His life has been spent chiefly in connection with the press, and in the public service of the State.

    Francis H. Ray, born Fourth month 5, 1835.  His life was spent principally as an educator, and the later portion as a merchant in the city of New York.  He departed this life First month 18, 1862, in the city of New York.

     William A. Ray, born Second month 17, 1845; married Ninth month 8, 1870, Lucy W., daughter of Asa Shepherd, of Saratoga, N. Y.  His occupation is that of agriculture.  Lucy, his wife, was born Seventh month 7, 1831.

     This sketch would be incomplete without bearing testimony to the excellent character and womanly qualities of she who has been Mr. Ray's companion for nearly half a century, and to whose amiable disposition, wise counsel, and good judgment he is proud to attribute much of his happiness and no small share of his success in life.