Albert F. Wray
One of the conspicuous figures in the history of Shelby county is the distinguished lawyer whose
career is briefly outlined in the following paragraphs. An honored citizen whose life has conferred
credit upon the city in which he resided, in whom are combined the strong mentality, invincible
courage, determined individuality, characteristic of the natural leader of men. Albert F. Wray
was born in Brandywine township, Shelby county, Indiana, December 4, 1852. His father,
Isom Wray, also
a native of Shelby county, and for a number of years a wealthy farmer and prominent citizen, was born
April 5, 1829, the son of James Wray, a North Carolinian by birth, who moved to this part of
Indiana in an early day and settled three miles west of Shelbyville, where he developed a fine estate of
three hundred and forty acres and became one of the enterprising agriculturists and leading men of his
day. James Wray was born in 1793, and in early life read medicine, to the practice of which he
devoted a number of years after coming to Indiana. He also acquired considerable prominence
by his activity in religious work during the early settlement of the country, having been one of the first
Methodist ministers to visit the pioneers of Shelby county and break to them the bread of life, and he
also preached to the Indians from time to time, and was instrumental in inducing many of them to
discontinue their wild and barbarous practices and become more amenable to the customs of civilized
life. He was indeed a true soldier of the cross in a field where fearful odds were oft arrayed against
him, but his earnestness, piety and zeal enabled him to overcome opposition and plant the cause of his
Master in a section of country where it took root and flourished and where his name is still revered as
a benefactor of his kind. This good man and able minister lived to see Shelby county redeemed from
a wilderness and become one of the fairest among her sister counties of the commonwealth and to
witness the steady advancement of Methodism to a foremost place among the religious bodies of
southern Indiana. He was successful in material things also, having cleared and improved one of the
best farms in the county and at the time of his death, in 1869, he left a large and valuable estate as
well as the memory of a long and useful life.
The father of James Wray was Thomas Wray, a native of North Carolina and a veteran of the
Revolutionary war, in which he served with distinction under Gen. Nathaniel Green. Among the many
engagements in which he participated was the battle of Eutaw Springs, where the fighting under the
blazing beams of summer sun was so fierce that after the victory was gained many of the soldiers
perished as a result of overslaking their burning thirst from the cold waters of a large spring which they
captured from the enemy.
As already stated, Isom Wray became one of the prominent and well-to-do men of the county,
and was long a leader of thought and moulder of opinion among his neighbors and fellow citizens. He
took an active interest in the growth and development of the country and, being a fluent and forceful
speaker, exercised a strong influence in public affairs, and for a number of years enjoyed much more
than local distinction in political circles. During the latter part of his life he spent considerable time in
travel and in the winter seasons made his home in California. He died at the age of seventy-five years,
respected by all who knew him.
Miamia Bowen, wife of Isom Wray, was a daughter of Joel Bowen, a soldier of the War of
1812, who settled near Ironton, Ohio, shortly after the close of that struggle, and there spent the re-
mainder of his days. In 1848, after the death of her father, Miamia Bowen, with other members of
the family, moved to Shelby county, Indiana, and settled on a farm a short distance from Fairland,
where she grew to womanhood and in due time married. Mr. and Mrs. Wray were the parents of
three sons and one daughter, Albert F., of this review, being the oldest of the family; the others are
Newton and Jennie L., who married Jacob G. DePrez, a prominent hardware merchant, of
Shelbyville; William W., the third in order of birth, being deceased. The mother of these children
lived to the ripe old age of eighty years, and was a woman of excellent character and beautiful life.
Albert F. Wray was reared on the family homestead in Brandywine township, and his early
experience amid active duties of the farm gave him a strong vitality. At the proper age he became a
pupil of the school in his home district and such was his progress that at the age of sixteen he was
sufficiently advanced to enter Asbury (now DePauw) University, where, he prosecuted his studies for
a period of five years, being graduated in 1873 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. Subsequently
(1876) he was honored by his alma mater with the degree of Master of Arts, and still later taught for
two years in the public schools, achieving a creditable record as an instructor. Discontinuing
educational work at the expiration of the time indicated, Mr. Wray began the study of law at Franklin, Indiana, under direction of Col. S.
P. Oyler, but after remaining one year with that gentleman he entered
the office of Love & Conner, of Shelbyville, where he pursued his studies until his admission to the
bar two years later. In 1879, the year in which he was admitted to practice in the courts of Indiana,
Mr. Wray formed a partnership with Hon. E. P. Ferris, which lasted two years, at the end of which
time he became associated with David L. Wilson, the firm thus constituted continuing for three
years, during which period he rose to a conspicuous place among the leading members of the local
bar and built up quite an extensive and lucrative professional business. In 1882 he was appointed
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney of the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit, in which capacity he served continuous-
ly for eight years, having been successively re-appointed in 1884 and 1886, and while thus engaged
he attended to all the criminal business of the county and added greatly to his reputation as an able,
industrious and painstaking lawyer.
Mr. Wray was reared a Democrat, having been early instructed in the principles of the party to
which he has since yielded allegiance, with the result that he soon became an active worker; in
fact, a leader. He cast his first Presidential ballot in 1876 for Samuel J. Tilden, and has voted for
every nominee of his party from that time to the present, besides taking an active interest in local,
district and state politics. In 1892 he was elected to represent the district composed of Shelby and
Decatur counties in the upper house of the General Assembly and served four years as Senator
during which time he was untiring in his efforts to promote the interests of his constituency and the
state at large, having been placed on a number of important committees, besides rendering affec-
tive service in the debates and general deliberations of the chambers. Since the expiration of his
legislative term Mr. Wray has devoted himself to his profession in which, as already stated, he has
attained a commanding position and in connection with his private practice is now serving as
County Attorney to which office he was appointed by the Board of Commissioners in 1908.
Mr. Wray is a member of the Order of Free and Accepted Masons, belonging to Shelby Lodge, No. 25, Shelby Chapter, No. 30 Royal Arch Masons and Baldwin Commandery, No. 2, in all of
which branches of the brotherhood he has been a zealous worker and at times an honored official.
He is also identified with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Improved Order of Red Men,
and professionally has long been a conspicuous figure in the Shelbyville Bar Association and an
active participant in the discussions which come before the organization. He subscribes to the
Methodist faith and for a number of years has been a member of West Street Methodist Episcopal
church, in which he is serving as trustee and superintendent of the Sunday school, the latter being
one of the largest and most popular schools of the kind in the city.
On the 14th day of August, 1889, was solemnized the ceremony by which Mr. Wray and Mary B. Armstrong, of Edinburg, Indiana, daughter of Robert and Lydia Armstrong, the former a prominent merchant of that town, were united in the holy bonds of matrimony. This marriage has been blessed with two children, the older, who answers to the name of
Edith, and whose birth occurred on May 2, 1891, being a graduate of the Shelbyville high school, and a pianist of considerable note for one of her years. Her school work was so satisfactory and her grades throughout so
high that her teachers exempted her from all examinations, and she is now preparing to enter the
Woman’s College, of Baltimore, where her record will doubtless prove as honorable as that she has
heretofore achieved. Robert Isom, the second in order of birth, first saw the light of day on May
14th, of the year 1895, and is now a student of the Shelbyville public schools, with a bright and
promising future before him.
Chadwick's History of Shelby County, Indiana by Edward H. Chadwick, B.S., assisted by well
known local talent, B.F. Bowen & Co, Publishers: Indianapolis, IN, 1909, pages 703-704.
Contributed by Jane Fullington.