Wray Family

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The progenitor of the Wray family in this section of Pennsylvania was Daniel Wray, who emigrated with his family from County Antrim, Ireland, in the latter part of the eighteenth century, but little of their history is known further than that they were sturdy people who were held in high esteem by those who knew them. Some time previous to 1794 he settled in Franklin county, where Robert Wray was born in the year above mentioned.

From Franklin county the family removed to Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, and several years later to Indiana county, where the elder Wray purchased a farm adjoining the now prosperous town of Saltsburg. Robert was at this time a young man full of energy and push, and as his father had seriously involved himself in the purchase of the property and was in danger of losing it, he assumed the indebtedness, took the claim, and by engaging in the manufacture of salt (an industry in which he was a pioneer), he paid for the farm, which did not pass out of his possession until after his death. Early in life he was united in marriage with Miss Abagail Manners, whose parents were of German extraction and among the early settlers of Armstrong county. She was an estimable lady � possessed of many ennobling traits of character; she endeared herself to all by her kindness and benevolence; she was an example of all that is Christian charity and thought, ready for every good work, herself an illustration of all she taught. Industry and thrift were salient points in her character, and it was with pride that she referred to the fact that her wedding-dress and bonnet were purchased with linen cloth, manufactured by herself from flax of her own raising. After her marriage she spun and wove a quantity of cloth with which she purchased a copper kettle which is still in possession of the family. Her husband was her counterpart in all that pertains to true nobility of character � a typical pioneer, hardy and resolute, and inured to all the privations and hardships of frontier life, he was well fitted for the arduous work he did so well. Possessed of more than an ordinary amount of intelligence, he soon became a leading spirit, and his counsel was sought after and many a difficulty between neighbors was amicably adjusted by him, that had it not been for his kindly services would have involved the parties in litigation. His social qualities were marked and his hospitality was proverbial. His �latch-string was always out,� and no one was ever turned from his door.

In his eighty-fourth year this good old man went to his reward, �full of days, riches and honor.� He died on the farm to which he removed soon after his marriage, and which is in possession of his son Robert. His wife survived him until she attained the ripe old age of eighty-four, beloved and honored by all her acquaintances.

�None knew her but to love her,
None named her but to praise

They reared a family of nine children � Daniel, John M., William H., Robert, Sarah, Elizabeth, Nancy, Anna J. and Abbie M.

In his political and religious affiliations, Mr. Wray was a republican and a Presbyterian; all religious enterprises found in him a friend and supporter. His interest in politics was great, and he took a leading part and was one of those citizens desirous of the best welfare of the state and society.


John M. Wray, the second son of Robert and Abagail Manners, was born in 1818, and was reared on the old homestead in Kiskiminetas township, Armstrong county. His early life was replete with toil and hardship, and it was only by the possession of strong hands and a robust constitution that he was able to endure the arduous labor imposed upon him in making the great transition from the wilderness to productive fields. The present generation can scarcely comprehend the magnitude of the work performed by this pioneer and his contemporaries, and to them we are indebted for the substructure of our present wealth and prosperity. The father, with his sons, John M., Daniel, William and Robert, cleared a trio of the finest farms in Western Pennsylvania, one of which is still occupied by John M., the others by Daniel and Robert (his elder and youngest brothers). In his twenty-first year he married Miss Anna Margaret, daughter of Robert and Elizabeth Townsend, whose portraits and biography appear elsewhere in this volume. The result of this union were eight children, Harriet M. (Scott), Clara E. (Marshall), Abagail G. (Alexander), Hiram H., Anna M. (deceased), Robert T., Mary A. and Emma E. (deceased). Robert T. is a prominent and successful business man, and is at present connected with extensive coke works in the Fayette region. The only child remaining under the parental roof is Mary A., the youngest child. Mr. Wray has devoted his life to agricultural pursuits, and in his chosen avocation has been eminently successful; he has given special attention to the rearing of fine stock, especially English draft horses. Notwithstanding he has passed threescore years and is still active, and given promise of many years of industry and usefulness. During his eventful career he has been three times engaged in mercantile pursuits, but his preference has always been for the farm, which is endeared to him by many precious associations.

But few men can retrospect a more successful career; starting in life with only his natural resources for his capital, he has conquered success in everything, and now in his old age surrounded by his children, whose love and respect he holds in the highest degree, and whose positions in business and society reflect credit upon him, he is still actively engaged in business, and bids fair to attain the position reached by his father.

Source: Page(s) 284, History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania by Robert Walker Smith, Esq. Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883.
December 2000 by Jeffrey Bish for the Armstrong County Smith Project.
Contributed by Jeffrey Bish for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/armstrong/)

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