William
H. Ray

Biography

From:  History of Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois
  Among the old and prominent citizens of Schuyler was the subject {William H. Ray} of the following sketch:
  During his life, he filled many places of honor and trust, and was for many years the leading and representative business man of Rushville.  William H. Ray was born in Dutchess county, New York, December 14th, 1812.  His father, Simeon Ray, was also a native of the same county, and was born September 10, 1781, and died in Dutchess county February 16, 1831.  His mother, Amelia Simmons Ray, was born March 18, 1790, and died in Utica, New York, May 28, 1867.  William H. grew to manhood in his native state and in his youth received a limited education, which in after years was much improved by extensive reading and close observation of men and things.  He remained in New York until he attained his majority, then commenced to seek his fortune, as was the custom of the adventurous youth of his day.  In 1834 he came to Rushville, and here, in connection with Hart Fellows, embarked in mercantile business.  The partnership continued until 1840, then Fellows retired, and Mr. Ray conducted the business alone until 1844, when the firm of Little & Ray was formed, and continued until the death of the latter, which occurred January 25, 1881.  He married Mary Jane Cunningham, of New York, by which union there were three children, two of whom are living.  Their names are Charles E. and George C. Ray.  The former lives in New York and married Miss Irene Miller, by whom he has two children, named Jane and August Ray.  George C. was born in Rushville March 17, 1844.  He married Lydia Parrot, daughter of Josiah Parrot.  Four children, named William Henry, Anne P., George C., and Mary Catherine Ray.  He is a member of the firm of Little, Ray & Co. After the death of his first wife Mr. Wm.  H. Ray married Miss Mabel B. Tolles, who was born in Tennessee, April 16, 1831.  She died February 14, 1880.  There was born to William H. and Mabel Ray nine children, six of whom have survived the parents, four sons and two daughters.  Their names in the order of their birth are Dwight E, who was born in Rushville, July 11, 1855.  He married Miss Jennie L. Dyson, February 22, 1882.  William B., Benjamin F., Lizzie B., Harriet A., and James T. Ray.  William B. married Miss Mary L. Caldwell, a native of Farmington, Illinois.
  In politics, Mr. Ray was originally an old line whig.  When that party was disbanded he joined the Republican organization, and was a staunch supporter of the principles of that political organization until his death.  He enjoyed the confidence of the leaders of the party, and was an intimate friend of Abraham Lincoln.  In 1872 he represented his district in Congress, and served with distinction in that body.  On the 27th of May, 1865, the first national bank of Rushville was started, and he was chosen its first president, and held that position until death.  It was mainly through his efforts that the bank was organized.  Mr. Ray belonged to the positive order of men, and was a natural leader.  He was possessed of wonderful perceptive faculties and his decision of character was remarkable.  He rarely hesitated, but formed his opinion at once.  This was particularly true in all business matters.  His sound judgment led him unerringly to choose the best, and a proposition was no sooner made than accepted or rejected.  He was a man of no strong religious convictions, though he favored the Presbyterian faith.  In his home he was a kind and indulgent father, and an affectionate husband, though never demonstrative.  The current of hid feelings ran deep, and his warm sympathetic nature only came to the surface under strong provocation and from unusually exciting causes.  As a business man he wits known for his probity of character and strict business principles.



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