Biography of
R. P. Ray

Source:  Dot Creasey, August 2006


Richard Phillip (some say just initial P.) Ray was born in Overton County, Tennessee on the 8th of June, 1850 to Houston and Mary Ray.  Orphaned at an early age, he lived with older brothers and was educated by sister-in-law, Leigh Ann (Maxwell) Ray.  Shortly after his 13th birthday, in 1863, he crossed into Kentucky and joined the Confederate States Army under Cpt. Jake Bennett's command.  Cpt. Bennett's Company A, 10th Kentucky Cavalry was part of General Adam R. Johnson's Partisan Rangers.  The book Partisan Rangers, edited by Gen. Johnson himself, contains an account of Cpt. Bennett's heroic service for the Confederacy.  R. P. Ray remained with Company A, doing battle and scouting duties until the close of the war.

At age 16, Ray married Betty Kinnard in Tennessee.  Five children were born before the marriage ended in divorce.

In 1875, he married Ruth Ann Sullivan in Overton County, Tennessee.  To this union, twelve children were born, including two sets of twins.  The first child was born in Tennessee and the remainder in Burnet County, Texas.

Ray moved his family to Burnet County to join his brother, Pete.  Another brother, Tom, had gone to Colorado.  Traveling by train to the end of the line at Round Rock, Texas, they arrived December 22, 1876 and were met by brother Pete.  Continuing their journey by wagon, Ray, his wife, infant son John, and two daughters from his first marriage reached their new home in the Shady Grove community, Burnet County.

R. P. Ray homesteaded 160 acres of land on the San Gabriel River, about 8 miles north east of the town of Burnet.  Purchasing additional lands over the years, Ray farmed and ranched 300 acres.

Daughter Dixie Ray Buckner recalled her father saving silver dollars to make land payments.  When enough had accumulated, he tied the bag to his saddle horn and rode into town.

In later years, Ray was affectionately known as "Uncle Dick" and served the County as both Justice of the Peace and Commissioner of Precinct Three for more than forty years. 

Burnet County History, Vol. II states that

"Dick Ray possessed many law books and did much study.  When the county commissioner's court convened, he would pack his suitcase with fresh starched white shirts, a black bow tie, and take off in his shiny buggy drawn by old Mountie for Aunt Nan Coon's boarding house in Burnet.  He enjoyed politics and association with those involved in County government."

As Justice of the Peace, he performed marriages for many of his own grandchildren (including my parents, Homan and Alva Lee Riley.)

After the death of his wife in 1918, Ray continued living on the farm until 1940, when he sold the farm to his neighbors, the Plevans, and moved into Bertram.

Ray was a member of the Robert E. Lee Masonic Lodge at Shady Grove and wrote its history in 1917.  He was active in Camp Ben McCulloch's Confederate Veterans Reunions until his death.

In 1941, General Ray was made Commander of the Second Texas Brigade, United Confederate Veterans.  In 1942 he was elected Commander of Camp Ben McCulloch and re-elected in 1943 and 1944.  [photo of R. P. Ray]

Death by pneumonia came on Sunday morning, February 11, 1945, and he was buried the next day at this site [Bear Creek Cemetery].  He was survived by three sons, six daughters and forty-four of his fifty-three grandchildren. 

As his epitaph reads, he was "a man who loved his friends."

It is with great pride that we honor him today.

[From the remarks made by Dot Creasey at the dedication of a Confederate Veteran's Marker at the grave site of R. P. Ray.  Participating in the event were friends and family of R. P. Ray, and the Sons of the Confederate Veterans - Maj. George W. Littlefield Camp #59 and United Daughters of the Confederacy - Adam R. Johnson Chapter #2498.

Dorothy (Dot) Riley Creasey is the granddaughter of Ruth Ray Riley Stewart, and the great granddaughter of R. P. Ray]


 

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