Ray, Rev. Stephen

Stephen Ray was born in Anne Arundel county, Maryland, May 29, 1788. His parents moved to Kentucky, in 1793, and settled in Washington county. Here he was brought up, receiving a fair English education. At the age of twenty, he was made sheriff of his county, and continued in that office four years. At this time he was an Infidel of the Tom Paine school. But, by reading Buchanan’s work on Asia, he was induced to read the Bible. This led to his conversion, and he united with the Presbyterians. Having an active, inquiring mind, he investigated the differences between the various religious denominations around him, comparing their tenets with the Bible. He finally adopted the principles of the Baptists, and united with New Hope church, in Washington county, being baptized by Jeremiah Vardeman. Here he was licensed to preach, August 23, 1820, and was soon afterwards ordained. For a time, he engaged actively in the ministry. But, in April, 1823, he commenced the publication of a weekly paper, at Bloomfield, under the style of “The Baptist Monitor and Political Compiler.” The paper was published one year, at a loss of over $1,000. After this, Mr. Ray was known to the denomination as a writer, rather than a preacher. His style was rough, but pointed and forcible, and he wrote extensively for the periodical press, principally on controversial subjects.

In 1828, he moved to Hickman county, and settled near Clinton. Here, in 1831, he organized the first Sunday-school west of the Tennessee river. He was in the constitution of West Union Association, and, for a number of years, served it as clerk. In 1857, ne moved to Texas, where he remained nine years, after which he returned to Hickman county, Ky. He continued to write extensively for the religious press, till near the close of his life. He died at the residence of his son, Judge G. W. Ray, near Owensboro, Ky., July 16, 1871, in the eighty-fourth year of his age.

Source: A history of Kentucky Baptists: from 1769 to 1885, Vol. 2. John H. Spencer, Cincinnati, 1886