Submitted by Iru
D. Bray, Jr.
McCulloch County History, Vol. I
Compiled by Wayne Spiller
Little is known of the parentage of Sarah Jane Priscilla Stone, but from
the research that has been done some information has been garnered from
various sources and there may be some doubt of authenticity. Correspondence
does indicate that an Oldfield girl married a man by the name of Stone.
Since the name of the girl was not known it is an assumption that this
was Sarah Jane Priscilla's mother. This particular Oldfield girl
had three brothers-Garland, Bill, George- and three sisters-Martha, Mattie
and Susie. The first Oldfields were supposed to have come to this
country from Ireland and settled in the mountains of Tennessee.
Sarah Jane Priscilla Stone was born in Plevna, Alabama on January 23, 1858. She had three brothers-John, Gilmore and Garlon and three sisters-Sally, Caroline and Mattie (there is some doubt that Mattie was her sister or her aunt). During the Civil War she was about five or six years old and she recalls that the Yankee soldiers raided her father's farm to obtain food for the soldiers. She also recalls that they hid some chickens and geese under the bed in the house and the Yankee soldiers came into the house, tore up the beds, killed the fowls, with their swords and ate them. They also took some bread out of the oven before it finished cooking.
At the age of nine, Sarah's family moved a few miles to the north, but into another state, settling about 3 miles east of Elora, Tennessee, on top of a mountain. She also recalled that she attended school in a log house about three miles from her home (possibly Elora) and walked the three miles every day to and from school.
As was the practice of all households at that time, the women learned how to spin and weave cotton and wool for their clothing. Sarah did her share of this and still possessed a spinning wheel that she had brought from Tennessee at the time of her death. The spinning wheel was passed down to her youngest son, Aaron, who still has it.
Since Sarah had never married by the time she was approaching her late twenties, she relates that she was termed "an old maid." It was not the usual thing for women to work in those days. However, Sarah did work to earn a little spending money-that of being a practical nurse for a man by the name of Lewis Wilson Bray. Mr. Bray, a man of forty with six children and a sick wife, needed assistance with his wife, Mary Catherine, who was ill with tuberculosis. Mary Catherine, finally either became well enough to travel or else they thought the dry Texas climate would be good for her, and the Bray family moved to Round Rock, Texas. In 1887, after living for a few years in Texas, Mary Catherine succumbed to the dreaded disease that had been hounding her for several years.
Within a few months after Mary Catherine's passing, Lewis wrote a letter to Sarah asking her hand in marriage. However, in the meantime, Sarah had been "paying court" to Richard Bray, one of Lewis's brothers and she refused the proposal of marriage. Lewis must have been the most persuasive though, as he returned to Tennessee and married Sarah Jane Priscilla Stone in January of 1888.
Not only did she accept the proposal of marriage, but also she accepted the responsibility of assisting him in rearing his six children-Ezekiel (Zeke), Sarah Elizabeth (Lizzie), Mattie Jane (Mat), Laura, Bula, and Buford. That same year 1888, they returned by train to Round Rock, Texas to live.
In1893 Lewis moved his family to a farm in the northern part of McCulloch County, four miles south of Waldrip, that he had purchased from Marion F. Lohn. Marion had a few years earlier married his daughter Sarah Elizabeth (Lizzie). They soon had part of the three hundred and thirty-two acres under cultivation for row crops. Lewis hauled lumber by wagon team from Brownwood, Texas, some fifty miles northeast to build his new home. This friendly old house is still standing. A descendant of the Gray family has lived continuously in the house since it was built until the present time (1968).
Lewis and Sarah had seven children of their own-Aletha, Ethel, Iru, Lela, Aaron, and two daughters, Annie and Lillie, who died in less than a year of their birth.
On February 9, 1909, Lewis Wilson Bray died of what was then diagnosed as cancer, leaving Sarah with a farm and four growing children to care for.
All except one of Sarah's step-children were married-Buford was the exception. Aletha was also married when her father died. Buford left home soon after his father died as he felt that he could not make good at farming. Since he was an ambitions boy, he wanted to make a success of his life and dreamed of even going as far away as South America. Instead, he headed west. Sarah got a letter from him shortly after his departure and he was living near Jordan, Montana, working with a sheep-shearing crew. In this letter he told her that he was not going to write as it made him homesick whenever he wrote to the family. This was the last communication ever received from Buford Bray. Attempts were made in 1941 to locate Buford when his step-mother died and her estate was settled and again in 1967 in attempting to trace down information for the family history, but still no answer as to what became of Buford. There is always that thought in the back of your mind-did Buford die a lonely broken man, or did he leave a family that none of us will ever know or love?
After Lewis's death, Sarah had a hard battle to fight, but she was a determined woman. Through the efforts of her sons, Iru and Aaron, the farm was a success and became one of the most profitable farms in the northern part of McCulloch County. She reared the children into fine, decent men and women and lived to see them all married.
During the Depression of the 1930's, Sarah often remarked that she wanted to keep the farm clear of debt and have enough money to bury her! She was a strong believer in making your own way and did just that when all around her, neighbors and all insisted that she should use government sources of subsistence. Even when the Lohn State Bank closed its doors in the early 30's, taking all of her life's savings, Sarah managed to remain solvent.
On August 21, 1941, Sarah Jane Priscilla Stone Bray died and was laid to rest beside her husband in the Marion Cemetery. Although she believed in strict discipline, she was a quiet and patient person. She was a brave and determined person and respected by all who knew her. Many hours of her later years were spent sitting beside the fire place in her wooden rocking chair, either piecing quilts for her grand-children, or just gazing out the "north" window on the house where she had lived for so many years. As many of the elder citizens of her day, she always kept a tin "Snuff-box" in her apron pocket and on occasion would dip a small twig into the box and have a dip of snuff.
After her death, as specified in her late husband's will, the farm was sold and the proceeds equally divided among the living children. The farm was sold to Victor Lohn, a step-grandson and at his death passed to his wife, Ollie Lohn.