Centenarian Remembers City of
Gloversville as a Wilderness


Source:  Contributed from the personal collection of James F. Morrison;
no author, date cited, article notes:  
"Mrs. Ray celebrated her 106th birthday in the fall of 1930"

Mrs. Eliza Ray who celebrated her 101st birthday the other day at the home of her daughter, Mrs. William Millet 12 Wells street is really a most interesting character.  Born in a little log cabin in the woods of Sammonsville she remembers and reminisces on those old days.  She remembers many of the first pioneers who first came to Sammonsville, many of the Indians, their hunts, war whoops, pow-wows and customs.  Her father was an Indian chief of the Mohawk tribe and her mother was a woman brought up by  Col. Sammons' family.  She was cared for by the Sammons family until her death, which occurred at the age 103.  One of the fondest recollections that Mrs. Ray has of her mother, is of the time when she got a chair at a banquet for General George Washington.

Mrs. Ray while never a slave knows a great deal about slavery days.  When she was ten years old, she went to Schenectady, where she became converted and attended Capt. k[]ott's school, where she received her education as a missionary.  She traveled through the western part of the state in this capacity, in order to secure funds for freeing slaves.

She came to this city seventy-five years ago when most of this part of the country was a wilderness.  Of Alan son Judson, Judge Baker's father-in-law, she could not say enough praise.  It was through him that many slaves were freed and to him they came for shelter and to be smuggled into free territory.

At Sacandaga Park, her uncle Chuthawk, an Indian, had a wigwam.

As souvenirs of those old Indian days, Mrs. Ray still has a scalping knife used by her father, and a tomahawk.

Her husband died about twenty years ago, and two of her five children are living.  Mrs. William Millet and Mrs. Helena Thompson.  One of her sons, William Ray, died only a few weeks ago.  She is a great, great, grandmother.  There is nothing more that Mrs. Ray likes to do than write poetry.  She sent a great deal of her poetry to the late Mrs. Woodrow Wilson of whom she is very fond admirer.  Other of her poems have been read from the pulpit of her church here, and other churches.

When Mrs. Ray first came to this city, there were but two churches, the Methodist and Episcopal.  With the help of friends and Mrs. Judson, she was one of the organizers of the first colored church, which was located on Wells street.  This church later burned down, and the A. M. E Zion was built.  At the end of Wells street, there were circus grounds also a training camp for soldiers.

She also remembers about the first general store in Gloversville.  It was owned by Seymour Sexton and Johnson and located at the corner of Main and Fulton streets.  Not only was it a general store for merchandise of every description but also a drug store and post office.

Mrs. Ray is an active little woman whose Indian ancestry is very apparent in her general features.  She likes to read and write and one of her favorite diversions is smoking her old clay pipe.  Here acute state of mind can better be described by the question she asked one of her friends who came into to bid her many happy returns of the day, "Do you think I will ever marry again?" she laughingly asked, after thanking her guest for coming in to see her.


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Copyright 2004, James F. Morrison, Jeanette Shiel
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Last updated Tuesday, 13-May-2008 13:12:03 PDT