Submitted by Ira
D. Bray, Jr. for
McCulloch Count History, Vol. I 1976
Compiled by Wayne Spiller
of Irish-Catholic parents at Flintville, Tennessee, on March 29, 1946 (his
mother was a red-headed girl whose maiden name was Falkenton), Lewis was
married on october 4, 1868 to Mary Catherine Kennedy and lived in Tennessee
until 1875. That year he moved his wife and family by train to Barton
Springs, near Austin, Texas. They lived there about a year and moved
back to Tennessee. Then in 1886 they moved to Texas again and
settled near Round Rock, Texas. This time they moved by oxen wagon,
taking 49 days to make the trip. One story taken from this trip is
related by Aletha Bray Morgan: "Somewhere along the route,
Lewis stopped and made some shot gun shells, but forgot the brass container
that held the pellets. After driving for several miles he missed
the container and since it was full of shot, he couldn't afford to be without
ammunition as there were so many Indians. He told his family that
they could drive on and he would walk back over the trail to see if he
could find the container. Sure enough he found the container on a
rock where he had loaded his shells. It began to get dark and he
became a little nervous, but kept going and trying to catch up with his
family. All the time he kept looking back and he heard a noise.
Of course he became excited and finally the object was following so closely
that he could see it was something but he didn't know what. He got
out his pocket knife, thinking it might be of some help and about that
time it made a loud noise. When he heard the noise, he recognized
it as that of a hog! He said it was really a relief to him and he
got back to camp all right." The same brass pellet container has
been handed down to Iru Bray, Jr., a grandson, who still has the relic.
Catherine died of tuberculosis in 1887. Lewis buried his wife at Round Rock, Texas, and shortly thereafter returned to Tennessee, where he married a friend who had helped nurse his first wife during her illness in Tennessee. He and Sarah Jane Priscilla Stone, the woman who had befriended him and his children, were married January 25, 1888. That same year the family once again moved back to Texas.
This time they moved by train and settled at Round Rock, Texas, on the Fletch Row Farm. During the next few years, Lewis searched for an ideal place to move. In 1890, he purchased a section of land near Quannah, Texas in Hardeman County, but before he could move, he became ill with pneumonia. While he was recovering, he sent his eldest son, Ezekiel, to care for the property. Ezekiel did not stay too long because of the severe cold and returned home. Later Lewis sold the land and decided to buy property in fertile McCulloch County.
In 1891, he came to McCulloch County and purchases 160 acres of land a few miles south of Lohn with $1,000 of insurance money that he had received at the time his first wife died. He kept this property for a few years and sold it and divided the proceeds equally between the children by his first wife. The place was sold to Mr. John Hill, whose heirs kept it until 1965 at which time it was sold to a man by the name of Singleton Fowler.
Later in the same year - 1891 - Lewis purchased 332 acres of land five miles north of Lohn and four miles south of Waldrip on the old Coleman-Brady highway from Marion F. Lohn for $5 per acre. This tract of land was a part of an area purchased by Mr. Lohn from State School Land for 50 cents per acre a few years before. Lewis built a house on this property in 1892 and moved his family up from Round Rock to live in it in the year 1893. The lumber to erect the house was hauled by wagon from Brownwood, Texas, a thriving town some fifty miles to the northeast. The land was measured by stepping the land instead of by the modern method of surveying land, hence the overage of acres (332 as against the standard 32- acres to a half section). About 1894, Lewis sold 100 acres off the north end of his half section to his brother, John E. Bray, who had moved to Texas from Tennessee. John farmed the land until he died and the family then sold the property and moved to Eldorado, Texas. Since Lewis was always a farmer, the first crop that he raised on the farm was cane and black-eyed peas. The move from Round Rock to Waldrip was made by covered wagon and a buckboard. The trip took 10 days and teams had to labor through deep sand in the area southeast of Brady near Pontotoc.
As Lewis passed through Brady, he stopped and acquired the services of a Mr. S. Dodd, the county surveyor, to go out and help him "step" his property. They then proceeded northward on the old Coleman road, which was nothing but an un-graded winding wagon road across open country, to the farm located south of Waldrip, there to settle for the remainder of his life and to pass the land to others in the family who were to live on it for many years to come.
Children born to his first marriage were Ezekiel, William (who died in infancy), Martha Jane (Mattie), Sarah Elizabeth (Lizzie), Laura, Bula and Buford. Children born to the second marriage were Aletha (Allie), Ethel, Iru, Lela and Aaron. Two daughters, Annie and LIllie, both died at an early age. One died within three days after birth and the other died a few months later of whooping cough. Both of these little girls are buried in the Waldrip Cemetery beside the graves of their Uncle John Bray, who died in 1898. Lewis Wilson Bray died on February 9, 1909, at Waldrip, Texas, and was buried in the Marion Cemetery. His grave and that of his wife, who followed him in death in 1941, are at the extreme northeast corner of the cemetery.
Lewis was a missing heir from his family in Ireland, and when they finally got in touch with him, a legacy of land had been left him. He would not take it as he always felt that he had to work for what he got. He was a successful farmer, and always stored grain for two years ahead in order to help the other fellow who might be caught short. He was a man with a keen sense of business and ethics. He was a devoutly religious man and that was even reflected in the biblical names that he gave to several of his children. The family Bible also reflects this interest in the manner in which he very meticulously entered the births, marriages, and deaths of the children who had preceded him in death. He was a farmer at heart and a person who loved neighbors-prehaps that is the main reason he never tried to acquire large land holdings in an era when many did.