Ray, Charles H.

Born: 1821-03-12 Norwich, New York

Died: 1870-09-24 Chicago, Illinois

Charles H. Ray was a physician, state government official, journalist, editor, publisher, and temperance advocate. He attended Norwich Union Seminary and almost became a teacher. Ray decided to enter the medical field, apprenticed in Poolville, and became a military surgeon in 1838, earning an official commission in 1840. By the following year, Ray was embroiled in scandal and debt and signed on as a ship's surgeon in New Bedford, Massachusetts. After returning in 1843, Ray relocated to New York City to resume his medical studies and taught at the University of New York. In 1844, he received his medical license. He then traveled west to Michigan to establish a practice but again lapsed into scandal and returned to Norwich. He set out for the west once more and, upon reaching Buffalo, met Millard Fillmore, who advised him to contact John T. Stuart in Springfield, Illinois, and establish himself there. Ray became involved in the temperance movement in Springfield and started his own newspaper, The Springfield Washingtonian. Following Ray's marriage to his wife Jane, he moved to Mackinaw, Illinois, and began a new practice. In the late 1840s, he relocated to Galena, Illinois and worked part-time at the Democrat newspaper, The Galena Jeffersonian. Following the death of his father and the receipt of a substantial inheritance, Ray bought the majority of the paper's shares and began devoting most of his time to journalism. He briefly returned to Springfield, where he earned appointment as clerk of the Illinois Senate. In 1855, he became the chief editor of the Chicago Tribune and soon transformed it into a Republican newspaper. Although initially distrustful of Abraham Lincoln, Ray changed his mind and became a close political ally of Lincoln and campaigned for him in 1860. Ray resigned from the Tribune in 1863 to start several business ventures.

Emmet F. Pearson, Charles Henry Ray: Illinois Medical Truant, Journalist, and Lincoln King-Maker (Springfield: Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, 1983); John Moses and Joseph Kirkland, eds., The History of Chicago Illinois (Chicago: Munsell, 1895), 2:44-45; Newton Bateman and Paul Selby, eds., Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois (Chicago: Munsell, 1921), 1:442.