Submitted January 20, 2008 by Max T. Baker & Barbara Baker McComb
Chapter Seven of Scattered Seed contains a complete transcription of the one hundred and fifty two page ledger 
of Laura Pearson Ray. Her husband, Neill W. Ray, Sr. has been given much of the credit for Fayetteville's 
extrication from financial distress in 1881. Laura, may not have been accustomed to dealing with financial matters, 
but she truly deserves similar recognition as she appears to have carried on her husbands business affairs long after 
his death. On November 7th, 1899 she recorded her husband's funeralexpenses as $106.13. In the upper right-hand corner 
of her ledger she pasted a newspaper clipping showing how to compute interest and began a book which became a most 
fascinating monthly account of the next thirty years of her life. The activities of many well known Cumberland County 
folks such as, Ray, McKay, Monroe, Thornton, Broadfoot, Pearson, McRae, Remsburge, Haigh, Lilly, Hale, and many others 
have been recorded by the careful hand of Laura Ray.

Donald Fairfax Ray
My grandmother was Margaret McLauchlin Ray Baker. Capt Neill W. Ray was her 
uncle. Her father, Martin Luther Ray was Neill Ray's brother. Both, along with 
other brothers Lauchlin, Alexander and Archibald, grew up in Cumberland County 
and attended Longstreet Presbyterian Church. Martin Luther Ray also fought in 
the Civil War and survived, but was injured. A family story has it that he was 
at Appomattox when Lee surrendered, but left so quickly to go home that he was 
almost killed by Union soldiers who didn't know the war was over. Lauchlin 
(known as Lauch) and Alexander (known as Alex) died in the Civil War. An 
obelisk in their honor is in the Longstreet church cemetery. Martin Ray was a 
teacher and farmer and eventually moved to southern Alabama and died in the 
small town of Florala, AL in 1919 after raising a large family. 

The Laura Ray ledger is interesting in that it reveals that Laura was very 
generous to her nephews, sons of Martin Ray. You will note numerous entries 
regarding loans to W.A. Ray, Luther Ray, and a few to Hal Ray. William 
Alexander Ray, Luther Gaston Ray and Halbert Clyde Ray were my grandmother's 
older brothers, sons of Martin Luther Ray and Martha Alef Smith Ray. It is 
clear from the ledger entries that Laura Ray loaned money to them to help 
them get into business. The ones to W A Ray (William A Ray, known as Will) was 
to get him into the hardware store business in Pensacola, FL. He prospered and 
his hardware store is still there today as "Pensacola Hardware" (its now a block 
or two from the original location). If you look on the website of Pensacola Hardware, 
there is some history mentioning W A Ray ( 

The loan to Luther Gaston Ray (in Florala, AL on the AL/FL state line) was also 
to support him into the hardware business, "Florala Hardware". The entry Dec 1, 
1916 lists a Ruby Ray. Ruby was Luther Ray's wife. I remember her when I was a 
child. We called her "Aunt Ruby", but actually she was my father's aunt. Their 
large house (we called it "Aunt Ruby's house") is still standing in Florala 
next to the Baptist church, but it's in disrepair. We believe that Hal Ray was 
also in the hardware business in north AL. The Hal Ray entries are on June 8 and 
Aug 2, 1900. 

Donald Fairfax Ray, son of Laura Pearson Ray and Neill Ray, was a cousin to my 
grandmother, Margaret Baker and grew up in Fayetteville, NC. In her stories we 
recorded, she said she remembered Donald coming to AL for a visit. Donald's name is on a memorial at Harvard as a Harvard 
graduate who died during WWI in 1918. ( He studied law at Harvard. 
But as you point out, he died of an illness, likely pneumonia, in the states, not in combat. I'm sure that when Donald died 
it hit Laura very hard. He was her only child to survive. In spite of him dying, she carried on helping the Rays and likely 
others with the money she had. This is clear in her ledger. Attached is a picture of Donald Ray as a young boy. My 
grandmother had this picture in her possession when she died in 1986.

You will also note one entry on June 8, 1927 listing the "Florala Land Company". The Florala Land Company was started and owned 
in part by William Christopher McLauchlin who married Martin Luther Ray's and Neill W. Ray's sister Margaret. They also lived in 
Florala, AL in a house overlooking Lake Jackson (It has since been demolished and a Hardee's restaurant now stands in its place). 
WC McLauchlin was likewise from the Cumberland Co area. One of his brothers was John W. McLauchlin of Raeford, NC, whose home is 
now the Raeford-Hoke museum. WC McLauchlin was in the land, timber and other businesses such as banking and hardware in Florala. 
He also was instrumental in starting the Geneva and Florala Presbyterian Churchs. He died in 1919. I'm not sure if the entry 
regarding the Florala Land Co is a dividend or not. Its possible that Laura owned part of the company at that point, but we have 
no other information on that.
Martin Luther Ray and Martha Alef Smith Ray
Luther Gaston Ray & wife Ruby owned this large house in Florala, AL on the AL/FL state line. It still stands next to the Baptist church, but is in disrepair.

Martin Luther Ray
Back to Myrtle's Genealogy Page
Back to Messages from a Hidden Past
Back to In Memory of the Late Neill W. Ray
Back to 1853 Letter to Archibald McLauchlin
Back to Cumberland County NC UsGenWeb Project