Obituary : James Jasper McCray

James Jasper McCray

James Jasper McCray, known to many as J. J. McCray, was the son of Phineas and Rachel Fort McCray of Warrington, Hancock county, Indiana. He was born January 24th, 1853; thus making him 87 years, 6 months, and 2 days old on July 26, 1940, when he departed this life at his home, 109 North River Blvd., Independence, Mo. Mr. McCray enjoyed remarkably good health considering his advanced age and at the last suffered less than an hour from a heart attack. He leaves a wife and two daughters Vergie and Viva, his only son Myron having preceded him in death on May 20, 1940. He was the last survivor of 13 children of a pioneer Indiana family. He spent 27 years of his life in Indiana. He acquired part of his education in Spiceland, Academy, a Quaker school, and part at Greenfield, Ind., where he acquired the special education qualifying him to receive a teachers certificate known then as a teachers "license." In writing some notes about his own life, Mr. McCray wrote the following: "After teaching 7 years in Hancock county, Ind., I sold my buggy and pony and went to Kansas. I got to Centralia, Kansas, on the 25th of March, 1880, a little before daylight, getting my breakfast in the McCubbin hotel. Thomas Dodd brought me to Edwin Smith's home 6 miles southwest of Centralia. About the first things I saw were prairie chickens, many of them. They flew very fast and soon lighted. The prairie chickens have disappeared. I have seen and struck many prairie rattlesnakes which are very poisonous. I think they have now disappeared." Mr. McCray's family and friends in Indiana regretted seeing him go to this western prairie country as they believed it to be inhabited by wild beasts and roving Indians, but he found it to be quite different and decided to make this Kansas country his home. After being engaged in teaching in Centralia and surrounding country for a number of years, he became county superintendent of schools of Nemaha county, occupying this office from 1888 to 1893. After living in Seneca these four years he again returned to teaching in this county for a number of years. In 1901 Mr. McCray and his family moved to Marion county, Kansas, later moving to Manhattan, where his children could have the advantages of attending the Kansas State College. He also attended the Kansas State College, taking the Farmers Short Course. It was one of the greatest joys of his life to see them graduate from this college. For the past 25 years his home has been in Independence, Mo. Another great joy of his life was the celebrating of his Golden Wedding anniversary on December 10, 1936, having spent 50 happy years with Margaret McDougal to whom on Dec. 20, 1886, he was united in marriage. Wherever Uncle Jas, as he was familiarly known, has lived, he lived the kind of life which won the respect of the people of the community. He showed a keen interest in community and national problems and was active in public affairs, always standing for right and justice. He served on the city council for a number of years while living in Manhattan. Mr. McCray's life has been guided by Christian principles and on May 5, 1920, he complied with one of the special commands of God by being baptized and becoming a member of the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints. He was happy that he could attend prayer meeting on Wednesday night before his passing early Friday morning. All through life Mr. McCray enjoyed reading and in his declining years this was a source of great pleasure to him. He was interested in reading the daily papers, new books, and especially enjoyed reading and reciting poems. When he lived in Greenfield, Indiana, he lived in the home of James Whitcomb Riley, the "Hoosier Poet." It seems fitting to read verses of James Whitcomb Riley here today. His son, Myron, had written a number of poems, one of which contains valuable thoughts for each of us here today. It was written on May 15, 1937, and is entitled "An Evening Prayer."

An Evening Prayer

We are fast coming to life's end
Soon our soul will begin it's celestial trend,
Heaven is nearer us every day
Oh, God, teach us how to live and pray,
Teach us how to love one and all our neighbors,
And help us to expect no extra favors,
Let us all strive to do our duties well
So we may come home in heaven to dwell.
Our earthly sun is setting in the west
Calling us all to come to our rest,
Help us to work for one another
And teach us everyone is our brother.
May we always do our best
To help all others gain in their zest.
Teach us all a heavenly song
So we may join each other in the celestial throng.
Help us all our hopes to win
Keep us from all earthly sin,
Teach us we must always to our friends be true
Make us realize the good things we do,
Will be for us a heavenly crown
And help us to never,ever wear a frown
Keep us always up and forward
'Till we join the ranks of Our Lord.

Funeral service was held at the Congregational church in Centralia Sunday afternoon at 4 o'clock. Rev. Ammon White, Independence, Mo., giving the funeral address. An obituary prepared by the family was read by Mrs. T.K. Bosworth. A male quartet, Earl Hightower, Oscar Darr, George Young [text missing] "Crossing the Bar." Mrs. D. Hightower was at the piano. The pallbearers, nephews of the family were Lester and Joe McDougal, Lawrence Blankley, Raymond Kout, Leonard Hilbert, and Walter R. Smith. Mrs. Emma Smith Lytle, Mrs. Walter R. Smith and Mrss. Oscar Darr cared for the flowers. Burial was in the Centralia cemetery. Those from out of town who attended the funeral were: Mrs. Myron McCray, Mrs. Delmar Akin and Mrs. Empson of Zeandale, Kansas; Mr. and Mrs. John H. King, Goff; Mrs. Agnes Brooks, Miss Nellie King, Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Hilbert and son Wallace, Independence, Mo.; Mr. and Mrs. Bryant Blankley, Mrs. and Mrs. Ernest Thompson, Lawrence Blankley, Marion; Mr. and Mrs. Walter J. Smith, Salina; Mr. and Mrs. Lew Chew, Sr., Mr. and Mrs. Lew Chew, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Charles Park and daughter Juanita of Atchison; Mr. and Mrs. Lester McDougal, Mrs. and Mrs. John McDougal, Joe McDougal, Corning; Mr. and Mrs. Lester Smith and family, and Ivan McDougal, Frankfort; Mrs. Tom Johnson, Topeka; Mr. and Mrs. I. Lynch, Mrs. and Mrs. Ernest Massey, Corning.

Card of Thanks

We desire to express our sincere thanks to all relatives and friends who so kindly assisted us in our hour of need. We want to especially thank those who provided the music and to express our appreciation for the use of the Congregational church.
Mrs. J. J. McCray and family
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