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Edward P. Ray. Fortunate is the man who finds his work in the world early in life and concentrates all his energies upon discharging his duties and responsibilities with credit and efficiency. One of this fortunate class was Edward P. Ray of Arkansas City. His father and grandfather before him were in the produce business, established one of the early concerns of that kind in Southern Michigan, and the old house is still flourishing and doing a large business at Coldwater, Michigan, today. Edward P. Ray grew up in that business atmosphere and after breaking home ties and family associations he readily found places of responsibility with other concerns. In the course of his career he came out to Kansas, and for a number of years was manager of the A. S. Kininmonth Company, a produce concern whose activities are practically state wide in Kansas.
Mr. Ray was born at Coldwater, Michigan, December 1, 1875, and came of old American Colonial stock. His paternal ancestors settled in New York in the early days. His grandfather, Henry Ray, was born at Oaks Corners in Ontario County, New York, in 1823. For a number of years he was a grocer at Phelps, New York, and organized the produce business which his son, E. F. Ray, still conducts. Henry Ray died at Coldwater, Michigan, in 1885. He came to voting age when the whigs were still a powerful organization, and from that party affiliation he gravitated into the ranks of the republicans. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and at one time served as a member of the New York Legislature. Henry Ray married Elizabeth Nower, who was born in New York State in 1823 and died at Toledo, Ohio, in 1913. There were four children: Palmer, who was in the produce house of H. Ray & Sons at Coldwater, where he died in 1876; E. F. Ray, mentioned below; Charles, who was also with H. Ray & Sons and died at Coldwater in 1880; and Emma, wife of C. C. Chapman, who is connected with the Milburn Wagon Works at Toledo, Ohio.
E. F. Ray, father of Edward P., was born at Phelps, Ontario County, New York, November 16, 1851, and is now living at Coldwater, Michigan, He married in his native town, was for a time in the grocery business there, and then went West to Coldwater, Michigan. He arrived in that town October 8, 1871, a date that had been readily remembered as the day on which the great Chicago fire started. Since that time, for over forty-six years, E. F. Ray had been in the wholesale produce business at Coldwater and always in the same location. He was the pioneer merchant in that line, and was also one of the first produce dealers in Southern Michigan. He is also of the republican brand of politics and a member of the Baptist Church. E. F. Ray married Carrie A. Titus, who was born in Phelps, New York, June 5, 1851. Edward P. Ray was the first of their three children, Lottie S. is the wife of E. F. Pangburn, a street railway promoter living at Coldwater. T. N. Ray is a member of the United States Regular Army and is a resident of El Paso, Texas.
Edward P. Ray spent his early life in his native town of Coldwater, attended the excellent public schools there, but when in the eighth grade and at the age of sixteen left school to take a business course in the Indiana Normal School at Valparaiso. He finished his course there in 1892, and then returning to Coldwater took an active share in his father’s business. He was with his father until 1901, following which he became manager of the produce department of Swift & Company at Bushnell, Illinois. In 1903 he transferred his connection to the Western Cold Storage Company at Nebraska City, Nebraska, and managed that plant until February 14, 1905.
For over ten years Mr. Ray was a resident of Kansas. For the first year in this state he managed the J. P. Baden Produce Company at Winfield, and then became local manager for the A. S. Kininmonth Company of Winfield. He was with that firm continuously, and on September 14, 1909, took charge of its plant at Arkansas City. The A. S. Kininmonth Company of Arkansas City is at 1000 South D Street and covers nearly a block of land. In this plant is gathered produce from the producing centers of Southern Kansas and Western Oklahoma, and practically daily shipments are made by carload lots to the large city markets. Thirty persons are employed in the different lines of the plant’s activities, and the annusl business of the Arkansas City house is valued at approximately $1,000,000.00.
Mr. Ray was also vice president of the Croswell Oil and Gas Company and was vice president of the Monogram Oil and Gas Company. He never saw any good reason to deviate from the political affiliation which characterized his father and grandfather. Fraternally he was a member of Crescent Lodge No. 133, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and Lodge No. 732, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, at Winfield.
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Mr. Ray with his family resided at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in Arkansas City. On December 24, 1898, at Bronson, Michigan, a village a few miles from his birthplace, he married Miss Anna H. Dibble. Her parents, George and Mary Dibble, are both now deceased. Her father was at one time a shoe merchant at Owosso, Michigan. Mr. and Mrs. Ray had two children; Edward S., born March 11, 1904; and Helen C., born September 19, 1907.
Mr. Edward P. Ray died May 31, 1917.