Biography - H Bray

H. W. BRAY. In few branches of art or science have there been such developments or perfected improvements as in photography, and no establishment in Montgomery County shows more conclusive proof of this assertion than that of H. W. Bray, of Nokomis. He is an artist of wide reputation, his works have a wide circulation, and wherever exhibited form the chief attraction for the professional as well as the amateur. Mr. Bray was born in the Nutmeg State, at Glastonbury, February 24, 1823, and is a son of Alfred and Sarah (Talcott) Bray.
Our subject's great-grandfather, John Bray, came from England to America many years prior to the Revolutionary War, and after residing for a short time in Maine, removed to Connecticut, and later held a Captain's commission in the War of the Revolution. His son, the grandfather of our subject, John Bray, Jr., was born in Connecticut, as was also Alfred Bray, father of our subject. Oliver Talcott, the grandfather on the mother's side, was a native of England, but served in the Revolutionary War under General Gates. He married Miss Jane Balch, a noted singer of her day, who had the honor of singing at a reception given to Gen. Washington at Hartford, Conn.
Alfred Bray, father of our subject, was the owner of a woolen mill at Woodstock, Conn., where he had moved when the original of this notice was about two years of age. In 1830, he came to the then far West, locating in Portage County, Ohio, about fifty miles southeast of Cleveland. Soon afterward he moved to Atwater, Ohio, where he died in 1835, the mother following him to the grave a number of years later. Our subject was early initiated in the duties of the farm and received but limited educational advantages, being obliged to travel three or four miles to the log schoolhouse. When eighteen years of age he commenced to learn the shoemaker's trade, but after following it for three years abandoned it permanently. For three years he was engaged in painting, and in 1847 he went to Syracuse, N. Y., to learn the art of photography. Subsequently he followed the occupation of a traveling artist in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania until 1863, when he located at Pana, Ill., and there resided for three years. Later, his health failed and he sold out, and for the next fourteen years was a painter in the employ of the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad Company, being foreman of the shops for twelve years of that time.
Since then Mr. Bray has been engaged as a photographer, and in the spring of 1892 located at Nokomis, where he and his son George have since carried on the business. His work is of the highest artistic merit, and at such reasonable prices as cannot fail to satisfy the inclination and taste of all customers. He has become well known for securing to sitters before the camera a graceful, natural pose and a pleasing expression, and in all his work is to be seen the master hand of the thorough expert artist. His work compares favorably with that of the leading artists of the land.
In early life Mr. Bray espoused the principles of the Whig party, but he has been identified with the Republican party since its origin. In the year 1847, at DeWitt, N. Y., he was married to Miss Amy Wood, of Cleveland, Ohio, and they have four children, two sons and two daughters, as follows: Emma, wife of Dr. J. H. Kitz, a miller of Taylorsville, Ill.; Francis, a locomotive engineer on the Missouri Pacific Railroad; Hattie, the wife of J. M. Klor, a merchant of Hillsboro; and George, who is in business with his father. Mr. and Mrs. Bray are exemplary members of the Baptist Church.

Extracted 10 Jan 2017 by Norma Hass from 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, pages 390-391.

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