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John Wray

No picture exists of the man who traveled from 'down east' as early as 1732 to the corner of land where the (then-unnamed) Dunnings Creek empties into the (then-unnamed) Raystown Branch of the Juniata River.

The so-called Indian traders ~ were those men who traded blankets and other Euro~American produced goods to the Amerindians of the frontier regions for beaver and other animal pelts. Indian traders often resided in the eastern counties with their families during the cold winter months and transported stocks of goods ~ blankets, iron tools and so forth ~ westward as soon as the weather broke. They would spend the late spring, summer and fall at their trading posts bartering with the Amerindians who were traveling along the many established paths on their hunting forays.

There is a German word zaun from which the Old English word, tun, was derived. Both the original and the derivation mean 'a fence' or 'a wall'. Tradings posts that were comprised of two or more buildings surrounded by a fence were known as 'towns' in the early days. Usually the trader would build a log cabin to reside in and another building in which he would conduct his trading business. There were a number of them scattered throughout the frontier of Pennsylvania and Maryland. John Wray's trading post (which was believed to be comprised of three buildings surrounded by a fence) was known as Raystown. There was Frankstown, Shanopin's Town, Cresapstown and so forth.

Traders who may have had only a single building, residing in and trading in the same structure, did not acquire the word 'town'. James Dunning apparently only had a single building and his trading post was known simply as 'Dunnings'. Despite having a mountain, a creek and a cove named for him, James Dunning never acquired the 'town' designation for his trading post. In the same way, Garrett Pendergrass's trading post never acquired the name of 'town' since he had only a single structure in which he lived and conducted his business.

John Wray is the name by which the man who traded with the Amerindians was known in the only public records (i.e. Pennsylvania Archives) that actually mention his name. It wasn't until the early 1900s that his name was changed from John Wray to Robert Ray by a single person ~ John H. P. Adams. His motivation to do so was never explained, but present-day genealogists cannot find any substantial evidence to support Mr. Adams' change of the name.

Certain historians have questioned the spelling of the last name, some suggesting that it was actually McRay, McCray or McCrae since he was believed to be of Scottish background. The people who change his name from Ray to McRay fail to understand that the two names are distinct families in Scotland; McCray is not a patronomic of Ray (meaning 'son of'). The supporters of the 'McRay' surname do not provide any explanation of why the hill named for John Ray is not McRay's Hill, the cove McRay's Cove or the river McRay's Branch of the Juniata River.

Like other Indian traders, John Wray would have resided with his family in the eastern part of the Province of Pennsylvania during the harsh winter months. As soon as spring came, and the snows had lessened in intensity, the trader would load up a pack horse or two and drive them westward to their trading posts. That is why many of the Indian Paths were nicknamed 'Packer's Path'.

John Wray, like many other Indian traders, having dealt with various Amerindian tribes, tended to learn their languages and therefore the Pennsylvania Provincial authorities requested their assistance in entreating with those Amerindians. His services in translating were how John Wray's name became part of the archives of Pennsylvania.