AWARD

At the June 30, 2013 Township picnic, the Ray Township Historical Society recognized George Carpenter with an "Appreciation Award" for hand-carving a replica of the blacksmith shop on 26 Mile Road and donating it to the Society.

Mr. Carpenter spent his own funds as well as many hours
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Geore Carpenter (center) with his model of the blacksmith shop

Blacksmith Shop (circa 1900)

 

OUR MISSION

The Ray Township Historical Society will collect, preserve, record, promote and publish the history of Ray Township, Michigan, its surrounding area and history in general. The society will also strive to discover, communicate, preserve and disseminate the goals and principles of historic preservation. The society will stimulate and encourage donations of historic artifacts, photographs, desirable collections and bequests for the Ray Township Historical Society, as well as provide a channel for individuals and organizations to express ideas and make suggestions to the Society for appropriate programs and projects that will foster the preservation and dissemination of Ray Township’s heritage.

 

A BRIEF HISTORY OF RAY TOWNSHIP

Whether you are new to Ray Township, or have lived here for generations, you’ll agree that the “jewel of Macomb County” is a unique and wonderful community. It has grown and changed through the years, but unlike so many surrounding areas, Ray Township has retained its rural charm. Many diligent historians have researched our township, and we present a small sampling of their efforts here. 

(The following is adapted from Leeson’s History of Macomb County, Michigan, pp.858ff.) 

Joseph Chubb was among the first white settlers of the area that became Ray Township. His 1825 patent of one section of land was signed by John Quincy Adams. Sadly, Joseph Chubb’s wife soon became the first adult person to be buried in Ray on January 9, 1827. Lucinda Chubb was the first white female child born in Ray, and Edgar Freeman was the first white male child. At about this time, other white settlers included the families of Zelottes Stone, John Gass, Duncan Gass, Nathaniel Thompson, Benjamin Freeman, J.T. Robinson, and Samuel Butterfield. At the time of its organization, the area was named “Rhea”, after the Latin name of a river in Europe. After two or three years, the name was changed to “Ray”. The community grew as more settlers came to the area. The first schoolhouse was erected near what is now known as Ray Center in 1834. The first church building was erected in Ray in 1839, for the Close Communion Baptist Society.

(The following is adapted from the Ray Township website: www.raytwp.org. It includes some background on two of our best known historic buildings, the Township Hall and Library.)

When Ray Township was established in 1827, the boundaries included what is now Armada Township. In 1832 the boundaries were enlarged to include Lenox, Macomb and Richmond Townships. Ray Township was later reduced to its present size of 36 square miles with boundaries as follows-32 Mile as the northern boundary, 26 Mile as its southern boundary, its eastern boundary being a line one mile east of North Avenue and to the west a line one mile west of Romeo Plank. 

The current Township Hall is housed in what was originally the Ray “Union Church” built in 1869. In the 1940’s attendance lagged at the church and the trustees decided to abandon the church and to turn the property over to the township to be used by its residents. On June 6, 1950 a formal agreement was signed between the church trustees and the trustees of the Township. The Township Board began holding meetings at the hall in 1968 and in 1973 opened a small office in the back room. In 1996 the Ray Township Senior Center addition was built on the back of the hall. The interior of the old hall was renovated in 2001 to provide much needed office space for the Township Hall.

The Township Library is located in a former one-room schoolhouse that was built in 1863. The “Mill School” served the community to educate the children of Ray Township for ninety-one years. The ownership of the school and property was transferred to Ray Township in 1953. The building was reconditioned in 1983 and opened as the Ray Township Library.

(The following is excerpted from the Macomb County Historical Commission website’s Local History Spotlight page; it describes the settlements that were a part of Ray Township.)

Davis - This settlement of Ray Township was originally named Brooklyn. Because this name was already taken in Michigan, the settlement was renamed Davis in 1876 in honor of Rev. Jonathan E. Davis. At its peak in the 1940s, Davis had 2 grocery stores, 2 gas stations, a church, Davis Hardware, a barber/beauty shop, cleaners, tile factory, grange office, two-room schoolhouse, insurance and other offices, a Masonic Temple, and a cemetery. Prior to 1876, there were 2 blacksmiths, a hotel, general store, sawmill, cooper, church, school and cemetery. The “Plank Road Mill” manufactured planks for the Romeo Plank Road. Davis is located at 27 Mile and Romeo Plank Road in Ray Township, and it is still a viable entity as a community.

Meade - Stewart Taylor became the first postmaster of this rural post office in 1838. At that time called “Vienna,” it was renamed for Civil War general, George Gordon Meade, on November 28, 1863 and operated until July 31, 1906. During the 1870’s it was also known locally as the “Crawford Settlement.” At one time near a small airport, as of 2005, Meade still enjoys a somewhat tenuous existence. There is still a party store (located in one of the oldest surviving structures) as well as Meade Cemetery and a few street signs that still mark Meade. It was/is located at 26 Mile Road between Romeo Plank and North Avenue.

Ray Center - Located in the southern part of Ray Township, Ray Center’s post office was opened there on February 13, 1846. The first land purchase in the area was made by Reuben R. Smith in 1824. First named Rhea, after the Latin name of a river in Europe, it was later changed to Ray, which is still the township name. Its location was at the intersection of 29 Mile, Hartway and Indian Trail Road on the north branch of the Clinton River. One of the main businesses was the Shafer Mill. It went into decline when the railroad passed it by, instead going by Armada and Romeo.

Ray - This rural post office in the center of Ray Township opened on May 1, 1827 with Reuben R. Smith as the first postmaster. Not to be confused with the Ray Center post office, it operated until June 25, 1868.

 
 
    
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