Ray McClain, 1898

This is the sixth in a series of posts concerning individual portraits taken of the children of Nathan and Mary McClain in 1898. More details about that set is in this previous post. The next child in the line-up is Raymond Boyd McClain.

Ray turned ten years old in January 1898. So was almost certainly ten in this portrait.

Ray was 13 when the family moved to Oregon, and probably 14 by the time they reached the Willamette Valley. Ray was 22 and living with his parents in the Tallman area when the 1910 census was taken. He served in the US Army in France in World War I and was discharged in 1919. He was living with his mother and sister in Albany when the 1920 census was taken, and was working as a truck driver for a packing house. He married Grace Hymes in December 1921. Grace had graduated from Philomath High School the previous year.

Ray and Grace settled in Albany and Ray began working for Mountain States Power Company there. He would work for them until his retirement in 1953. They had four children in Albany between 1923 and 1930: Walter, Frank “Gordon,” Mary and Shirley.

In 1930, right after Shirley was born, Ray was transferred to Newport, Washington. In 1949 he was transferred to Mill City, Oregon. Later (perhaps after retirement) they moved to Hillsboro (when Hillsboro was rural). Their last move was to Silverton (I assume to be near daughter Shirley).

Ray passed away in 1965 at age 77. Grace also passed away at age 77, in 1979.

Much of the information above came from a brief summary of Ray and Grace’s life prepared by someone in their family. I am indebted to whoever wrote it.

Here is a quick run-down on Ray and Grace’s children. Sadly I have very little information on them:

  • Walter was 16 years old and delivering papers in Newport, Washington according to the 1940 census. In 1943 he enlisted in the military and fought in World War II. He married Harriett Torgrimson in 1948. They settled in Seattle. They had three children. He passed away in 2001.
  • Gordon enlisted in the Army reserves as a warrant officer in 1942. He married Eunice Meredith in 1946. They had five children. In 1990 he was living in Hillsboro (Oregon). He passed away in Washington in 2000.
  • I have almost no information about Mary. I have no record that she married. In 1990 she was living in Denver, Colorado. She passed away there in 1993.
  • Shirley has the distinction of being the “youngest cousin.” She was three years old when she was flower girl at Mom and Dad’s wedding. (We’ll come to photos of that at some point.) She married Lloyd Dahlin in 1950 and they settled in Silverton. They had three children. To the best of my knowledge Shirley is still living as I write this. If so, she will turn 90 this year.

The document that summarized Ray and Grace’s life also recorded a few of Ray’s memories of their life in Paxton, Nebraska. One is that they lived in a sod house. This suggests that they homesteaded in Paxton. And indeed they did. Here the the land patent granted to Nathan McClain for a quarter section (160 acres) of land:

Thanks to the wonders of aerial photography, here is a picture of Nathan McClain’s land today:

Thanks to massive irrigation booms, it is very productive land now. Nathan’s land is the upper right quarter of this section of land. Interestingly, McClain relatives were granted the other three quarters of this section also. Nathan’s brother Ed had the lower right quarter. Mary McClain’s brother John (Deo’s father) had the lower left quarter. And Mary’s sister Elmina McClain Lierley had the upper left quarter.

This section of land is southeast of the town of Paxton, in the extreme southeast corner of Keith County. This section, with one north and one south of it, “pooch out” into neighboring Lincoln County. (So it’s pretty easy to spot on a map.)

Along with the revelation that Nathan homesteaded in Paxton, Ray also provides a definite answer to the question as to why the McClains left Nebraska: He says they planted wheat three years in a row that didn’t even sprout because it was so dry. This was before the days of irrigation, of course.

After that experience, it is no surprise that the family was amazed by the Willamette Valley. As Ray puts it, “They thought the Willamette Valley was the Garden of Eden, with fruit even lying on the ground.”

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