[corrections from the original version are in
brackets] - DWM 8/7/2012
(This is a transcript of a tape made by our grandfather, Reginald Piffard Ray, while he was visiting our aunt Lina in California in 1959. I have tried to make it as close as possible to what was actually said by Grandpa, even though there are several genealogical errors in the text, some of which I am aware of and probably many others I am not aware of. It must be considered that Grandpa was elderly at this time and was using no notes during the taping. Grandpa lived only one more year after this tape was made.)
--Jonathan A. Merrill, September 2005
This recording is being made by Reginald P. Ray at the home of his daughter Mrs. Leland P. Russell at #6922 Vista Street, San Gabriel, California on the 15th day of February, 1959.
The purpose of this recording is to establish on the record some of the facts in the genealogy of the Ray family, which I find is quite unknown to my children. I am the oldest  surviving member of the Ray family and have therefore some of the facts in my possession which will be entirely eliminated at my death. Therefore, I consider it a duty to preserve what I know with relation to the genealogical family history for the purpose of the children and others when I am gone. Unfortunately I myself am not too sure of the chronological setup of the family, nor do I know the rules which apply to writing a family history. I therefore am beginning with the part of the family history and tradition which I myself have heard from family relations and which I have seen myself. It may be wrong to begin at that point and go backward, but if I should try to begin at the other end of the line I would have to begin with the man who headed the Ray tribe back in the 17th century. The facts which I know in that particular [sense] are based on hearsay and it may be that my memory of the hearsay is not accurate. However, that will be the conclusion of this recording.
I therefore start with my own family which began when I married Emma Tinsley of Lyons, New York in 1906 at the home of her stepmother Mrs. Hannah R. Tinsley. The issue of that marriage was as follows: Harriet Mary Ray, who is the wife of Deane W. Merrill, residing in South Orange, New Jersey; Edward Tinsley Ray, who resides in Darien, Connecticut, who married Isabel Curtis; and Caroline Tinsley Ray who married Leland P. Russell, who is the daughter I am now visiting with my third wife Idah Flewwellin, who resided in Mount Kisco, Westchester County, New York. Our wedding took place on the 14th day of May, 1955, at St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York City.
My mother was Harriet Pearl of the village of Sherwood [Ledyard] in Cayuga County, New York. Her own mother was a daughter of [the wife of ] a Mr. Demmick [Dimmick] of Dutch descent. Her mother died when she was an infant and her aunt [grandaunt], Mrs. (Dr.) David [Dennisor R.] Pearl became her foster mother and brought her up until she was married to my father, Charles Howell Ray, almost immediately following his graduation from Hamilton College in the class of 1878. I was the first boy child born to the members of that class and therefore received the Class Cup, which is now in possession of Reginald C. [A.] Ray, the son of Edward Tinsley Ray.
My father’s father was the Reverend Charles Ray, who was born in India shortly after the turn of the century. He was one of four children born in that country where his father was the Reverend Edward Ray. The Reverend Edward Ray married a French Huguenot woman whose name was Piffard. I do not know her first name. Her brother’s name was David Piffard [and they] were French Huguenots and resided in Paris subsequent to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. France became an uncomfortable domicile for Huguenots, and Miss Piffard became a missionary in the Presbyterian Church and proceeded to India where she conducted a mission. I’m told that it was in Calcutta and that her life there was devoted to the teaching of the Gospel. On a certain occasion a sea captain in the employ of the Peninsular and Orient ship company was on leave in the city of Calcutta, and he was attracted by the singing in the mission conducted by Miss Piffard. He was married at that time to a so-called Indian princess, which tradition has it was the daughter of a Rajah of India, and by this wife he had several children. They later became American citizens--or their descendants became American citizens--and were known here by the name of Wixon. At one time they lived in Lyons, New York and later went to California. My father, Charles Howell Ray, purchased from Mr. Wixon a cemetery lot in the Lyons cemetery where he and my mother are now buried. The children born by the union of Miss Piffard and the sea captain--who later became a Presbyterian minister due to her benign influence--were Edward Ray, Joseph C. Ray, Charles Ray, and Sarah Ray. There may have been more, but they do not register in my knowledge of the family history.
Edward Ray of this family had a son whose name was Edward C. Ray, a minister of the Presbyterian Church who had a charge at one time at the Brick Church in East Orange, New Jersey and later moved to California and lived in Santa Barbara. A day or so ago I looked up the Ray family in the Santa Barbara telephone book and found a Reverend Edward Ray, who proved to be a newcomer to Santa Barbara and no relation to the family. I did discover, however, a cousin Prescott Ray, who was still living in Santa Barbara and with whom I had an interesting conversation on the telephone. He is about my age at the present time and is a widower. I hope to see him before I leave California. His brother Russell Ray had died, and his sister Ruth Ray had died, as had his mother whom we knew as Cousin Mattie.
Joseph Ray, one of the children born in India, lived in Indiana and had a daughter named Belle Ray whom I knew personally; I had never seen her father. She resided on Long Island in a town called Floral Park and had a brother named Joseph Ray who died in his teens. She also is probably dead but I have no knowledge of that fact.
The Edward Ray of the Piffard union was a resident of Rochester, New York and married Hannah; I’ve forgotten her maiden name. This Edward Ray was my father’s uncle, and he frequently visited at our house in Lyons. He had no children, and at his death that branch of the family ceased.
Charles Ray, my grandfather, was a very dedicated Presbyterian minister who had a charge in Rochester, New York, where his sister lived, his sister being my aunt Sarah and who married a Dr. Hall of Rochester. The Halls were connected with the Brewsters of that city through the marriage of Harry Brewster, who was later president of the Rochester Savings Bank, to Elizabeth Harris, sister of Bert Harris, later attorney for the New York Central Railroad company maintaining offices in New York and Rochester. Mrs. Hall, my aunt Sarah, was a very fine woman whose daughter was a Mrs. John Cosart, my father’s first cousin. I remember Mrs. Hall as she employed me annually to pick the Sheldon pears which grew profusely [at] her home on Catherine Street in Lyons. She gave me 50 cents for the job plus as many of these delicious pears as I could eat.
My father, Charles Howell Ray, was an attorney at law practicing in the village of Lyons, New York from 1879 until 1895 when he died from the result of an injury received from jumping a horse at the Wayne County Fair. I was with him at the time, and we were competing in a jumping class. His horse hit the top bar and tumbled down, my father being thrown over his head and tearing his ear on the turf. In those days there was no anti-tetanus serum, and he died in about a week.
The people of Wayne County had elected him District Attorney, and he took part in several important cases involving death on the New York Central Railroad which passes through that village. My boyhood was spent in Lyons until 1897 when I was admitted to the Geneseo State Normal School at Geneseo, New York from which I graduated in 1900 and went to the Buffalo Law School to finish my legal education which had begun in Geneseo by my serving a clerkship in the office of Colonel John R. Strang.
Shortly before my father’s death, my mother gave birth to a second child whose name is John Pearl Ray. He resides at the present time in Norfolk, Virginia. I have forgotten the name of his wife who lived in New Jersey. My brother John enlisted in the First World War and took the Sacket’s Harbor officers’ training course and was sent to the Mexican border in 1914; perhaps that was later than 1914. I am dictating without any memoranda and no documents before me as the documents which apply to the genealogy are in my law office in White Plains , New York. Therefore, this is a rather unsatisfactory method of recounting the story of the family history.
Brother John is a successful employee of the Simmons Bed Company in Norfolk and has a brilliant son also named John who is practicing medicine in Richmond, Virginia. He is married and has one or two children, and I see him, but infrequently.
My first wife Emma Tinsley died on the 9th day of June, 1948, at our home in South Salem, Westchester County, in New York. My second marriage occurred on the 26th day of July, 1949, at the home of the bride’s son, Marvin E. Hubbell, at Boston, Massachusetts. My bride’s name was Helen Ramage Hubbell, who was born in Galt, Canada and was the widow of Benjamin Hubbell of New Rochelle , New York. Helen Hubbell Ray died on the 17th of May, 1951.
The documentary evidence of what I have been saying consists of a statement of belief made by my great-great-grandfather [sic] Edward Ray, the sea captain, on the occasion of his ordination as a minister of the Presbyterian Church in London in 1826. A copy of this declaration of belief was made by David Piffard some time after the ordination at the request of Mrs. John Cosart who gave the copy to me.
Another document which bears on the subject is a statement of genealogy made by the said David Piffard, who was the brother of the Miss Piffard who married the sea captain. The story is that on one of his return voyages from India to England in the midst of a storm, his wife and children who were accompanying him were in distress, and Miss Piffard, who happened to be also returning to her brother’s home in London as a passenger, aided in the care of the Ray family. Unfortunately, the Indian princess died en route, and then apparently began a friendship between the captain and the woman who had helped in the care of the sick. They were afterwards married, the date of which I do not know but it is probably in the Piffard genealogy mentioned.
David Piffard, who supplied this information, was a member of the stock exchange in London and later came to America. He was attracted by the speculation in land in the northern part of New York state and acquired a considerable tract.
David Piffard, having acquired this tract of land in the Genesee Valley, one of the richest agricultural districts of the Empire State, erected a manor house, and the little village of Piffard grew up around the salt wells which he developed in that locality. The family of his sister and the Reverend Edward Ray later joined him in Piffard, and from thereon I have no knowledge of how the family connected, except that one of the daughters of the progenitor Sarah Ray--as I have indicated previously married Dr. Hall of Rochester, Rochester being only 30 miles distant--and the Reverend Edward [sic] Ray, my grandfather, married a resident of Batavia NY whose name was Margaret Howell. My father and I visited her mother at a small hamlet between Batavia and Lake Ontario, the name of which I have forgotten.
My father’s father [Charles] and my grandfather, the Reverend Edward [sic] Ray had three children: My father, and my aunt Anna who afterwards married a Dr. Silvers, and Ella Ray. Ella Ray never married, she being mentally disturbed, and remained with her mother. My grandfather started his preaching career in Rochester, New York--the name of the church I do not believe I have ever known--but decided that he would prefer to work in the Lord’s field among the smaller churches and went from one small village to another reorganizing a backward parish. I recall visiting him at Greene, New York; Rose Valley, New York; Marion, New York; and he also had a charge at one time at Moravia, New York; and Warsaw, New York, the latter two being before my birth.
The death of my father in 1895 was a difficult time for my mother who went to live with her cousin in Buffalo, Mrs. George Letchworth. My brother John lived with them on Prospect Park in that city. Ogden P. Letchworth, the son of Mrs. Letchworth--but of the same generation as my mother--and Josiah Letchworth were close relatives during this period. The Letchworth summer home at Moravia, New York, known as “Meadowbrook,” was our vacation spot for many years and is one of my most pleasant memories.
It was in this town of Moravia, Cayuga County, New York, where my father read law in the office of Mr. Hull Greenfield and from this office he went to Hamilton to finish his education. I believe he first entered the Auburn Theological Seminary with the purpose of being a Presbyterian minister, but in the course of his education his leaning toward the law changed his plans. I have in my collection of photographs a very good likeness of my father, Charles Howell Ray, and my mother, Harriet Pearl Ray, Pearl being the name of her foster mother Mrs. Maria [RPR pronounced it as rhyming with Uriah Heep] Ogden Pearl of Sherwood. Prior to my mother’s marriage to my father, she resided in Sherwood and there became an aide to her foster father Dr. Pearl in his extensive general practice of medicine.
The Mrs. George Letchworth mentioned was the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Pearl but was much older than my mother. Therefore, Mrs. George Letchworth’s children, Ogden Letchworth and Anna Letchworth, were as brothers and sisters to my mother.
I have a good likeness of my grandfather, the Reverend Charles Ray, in my collection of photographs and a very good photograph of his father, Edward Ray, in this photograph. This latter photograph of my great-great-grandfather [sic] is in his ministerial robes.
I do not know anything of the Ray family prior to my great-great-great-grandfather [sic], nor do I know of anyone now living who does. My second cousin [sic], Mrs. Louise Cosart, the daughter of my father’s aunt Sarah Hall had a more or less active correspondence with the branch of the Indian family being the descendants of the Indian princess when she was the wife of the Reverend Edward Ray, the sea captain, which is to say that before he was a minister and while he was the sea captain. The branch of that family bore the name of Van Rennen, some of whom were in the British army and I believe lived in London.
When Mrs. Cosart and I talked over these matters, I was too young to realize the importance of the statements she was making, and at her death the source of the information passed out. That is one reason I am endeavoring to record the facts which I have in my mind before I likewise exit. Most families should have a similar record made now that tape recording relieves one of the actual work of putting it on paper, the difficulty being that tape recording requires the help of notes made prior to the effort which I am entirely without. Therefore I have been unable to make a connected story. At the moment I have no other information pertinent.
My mother, Harriet Pearl Ray, whose real name was Demmick [sic], gave me at one time a series of documents by which she had been able to join the Daughters of the American Revolution. It appears that her family lived in New Jersey, and that one of the male members was a boatman on the Delaware River. Tradition has it that he supplied the boat which carried General Washington across the river for his attack on the British at Trenton. This, however, is not substantiated sufficiently to make it worthy of addition to this record. However my mother was able to become a D.A.R., and she passed on this data to me for me to become a member of the Sons of the [American] Revolution, which I never did, being too much engaged in historical research in Westchester County, which had a rich history during the Revolution.
This is errata: I misstated the fact that the three sons of the Reverend Edward Ray--who was ordained a minister of the Presbyterian Church in 1826 and whose children were Edward Ray, Joseph Ray, Charles Ray, and Sarah Ray--had no children. To straighten this out, Joseph Ray had two children to my knowledge, Belle Ray and a brother whose name I have forgotten. Edward Ray had a son, Edward C. Ray, who was the minister having a church in East Orange, New Jersey. I think this was the only child of that marriage.
I suppose the proper way to show this genealogy would be to draw the usual diagram and to identify my personal line. I will start with the Reverend Edward Ray who married Miss Piffard; one of their children being Charles Ray--also a Presbyterian minister--my grandfather; and Charles Howell Ray, my father, bringing the direct line down to me.
I realize that this record is quite unintelligible, but it will serve as a clue to assist those who desire later to follow up the branch in which they are interested. The English branch of the family is unknown to me. I do not even know the town or city in which the Reverend Edward Ray, once the sea captain, lived. I do not expect to have time to visit England, but if I should, I will try to find the facts which would bring out the earlier history of the Ray family. Perhaps it is just as well not to know, as it is said in every family there is a horse thief. A blot [is] on the escutcheon of my wife of Emma Tinsley, as her great-grandmother was a distant [sic] relative of a person named Guiteau. In my own family there is somewhat of a blot. The only free escutcheon is that of my present wife Idah Flewwellin. If you will turn to Scene 7 of Act 3 of Henry V you will find that Mr. Shakespeare recorded the fact that General Flewwellin of Wales was kin of his and a mighty fighter against the French at Agencourt. I cannot vouch for Mr. Shakespeare’s knowledge on the subject.
--end of RPR tape--
(On March 5, 1977, our father, Deane W. Merrill, typed a couple of pages of notes he took while listening to the RPR 1959 tape. Following are his notes, which were embellished with the help of some memories of our mother, Harriet Ray Merrill, at the time of the 1977 typing.)
Excerpts from a tape made by Reginald P. Ray in 1959, while at the home of his daughter, Caroline Ray Russell, in San Gabriel, California. He had no notes, so the sequence is rambling. However, many of the facts are worth recording here as a supplement to family genealogical records.
Second wife - Helen Ramage Hubbell, widow of Benjamin Hubbell, of New Rochelle. Married 7/26/49 at home of her son, Marvin Hubbell, in Boston area (Wellesley?). She died May 17, 1951.
Third wife - Idah [Grace] Flewwellin, spinster. Married 5/14/55 in chapel of St. Bartholomew’s cathedral, New York City.
Edward Ray, his great-grandfather, a “sea captain” for P & O Lines, while in Calcutta, heard singing in a mission in Calcutta operated by Sarah Piffard, brother of David, Jr., who had come from England to establish the mission for herself to operate. Edward Ray was married at the time to a Hindu princess, daughter of a Rajah. He had several children by her. Later, while on a trip back to England with the princess and some (or all) of her children, the princess died en route, and Sarah Piffard, who happened to be on board, cared for the young children. They were later married, and he was ordained a minister in London in 1826. Some, or all, of the children by the princess became American citizens. One married an Englishman named George Wixon.
Charles Howell Ray, RPR’s father, bought a cemetery lot from Mr. Wixon in Lyons, and it is in that lot that Emma is buried. [RPR has a fake grave there but is actually buried next to Idah in Mount Kisco.]
Children of Edward Ray and Sarah Piffard:
Edward - lived in Rochester, married Hannah (Chittenden). One son, Rev. Edward C. Ray of East Orange, New Jersey.
Joseph C. - born India, lived in Indiana. Had daughter, Belle, who lived Floral Park, NY and had also a son Joseph.
Sarah - married Dr. Hall of Rochester. He was connected with the Brewsters of Rochester Savings Bank. Known to RPR as “Aunt Sarah,” had daughter Mrs. John (“Birdie”) Cosart, first cousin of Charles H. Ray.
On trip, RPR found, in Santa Barbara phone book, a “cousin,” Prescott Ray, but never connected him up with the rest of family. He was about RPR’s age, and his mother was “Cousin Mattie.” Had brother Russell and a sister Ruth.
RPR’s father, Charles Howell Ray, practiced law in Lyons 1879-1895, when he died of an injury sustained by a fall from a horse he was jumping at the Wayne County Fair (RPR with him at the time). He tore his ear on ground when he fell over horse’s head; in those days, no anti-toxin or anti-tetanus, so he died in a week of lockjaw. At one time he was District Attorney (Wayne County).
RPR lived in Lyons until 1897, attended Geneseo State Normal School, graduated 1900. Then to Buffalo Law School for finishing law education. Had clerked in office of Colonel John R. Strang.
RPR’s brother, John Pearl Ray, born c. 1894, just before father’s death. He lives in Norfolk, VA. Wife ? from New Jersey. Had son John who lived in Richmond. John Pearl employee of Simmons Bed Company in Norfolk. He enlisted in WW I and had also been at Mexican border in 1914 or 1915.
David Piffard, Jr. (per Harriet Ray Merrill “came to U.S. in 1828, married 1825 to Elizabeth Haight.”) Lived in Piffard, NY (Livingston County), where he acquired lands, built a manor house, and founded village of Piffard. Edward and Sarah later joined him, with one of daughters, Sarah (Hall).
Children of Rev. Charles Ray:
Charles Howell Ray, father of RPR.
Anna - married Dr. George R. Silvers.
Ella E. - unmarried, mentally disturbed, lived later years with her widowed mother in Buffalo.
Rev. Charles Ray started his preaching in rather large church in Rochester. Wanted smaller parish, so had such in Greene, Marion, Moravia, and Warsaw, et al.
After death of Charles Howell Ray in 1895, his widow, Harriet Pearl Ray, went to Buffalo to live with a cousin, Mrs. George Letchworth (“Cousin Charlotte”). Brother John Pearl Ray also lived with mother at that time. Mrs. Letchworth had son Ogden P. Letchworth and a son Josiah, both same generation at Harriet Pearl Ray.
The Letchworths were quite wealthy and had a summer home in Moravia, known as “Meadowbrook,” a family vacation spot for many years.
Charles Howell Ray read law before college in office of Hull Greenfield in Moravia. He was originally to be a minister but later leaned toward the law.
Foster mother of Harriet Pearl in Sherwood, NY, was Maria (probably Marcia) Ogden Pearl. Harriet aided Dr. Pearl in his medical practice. Mrs. George Letchworth was daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Pearl, and her children Ogden and Anna Letchworth were “as brother and sister” to RPR’s mother, Harriet Pearl.
RPR’s second cousin [sic], Mrs. Louise (“Birdie”) Cosart, daughter of “Aunt Sarah” Hall, had corresponded with the Indian family descended from the Indian princess who married the sea captain, Rev. Edward Ray; the family was named Van Rennen, living in London. But Birdie died with the information.
Harriet Pearl Ray (nee Dimmick, which RPR spelled Demmick) showed and gave to RPR documents which had enabled her to join the D.A.R. This via relatives from New Jersey who (allegedly) had supplied the boat that took George Washington across the Delaware (not confirmed). RPR never joined the S.A.R.
--end of document--
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