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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
M. William Bray

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 71-72 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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M. William Bray, a representative of the Utica bar during the past decade, is an able young lawyer who has not only won prominence in professional ranks but has also attained a place of leadership in political circles as chairman of the democratic county committee of Oneida county, to which position he was elected on the 16th of April, 1924. His birth occurred at Cherubusco, Clinton county, New York, on the 25th of September, 1889, his parents being John and Hannah Bray of that county, where the father was successfully engaged in general agricultural pursuits prior to his death in 1914.

M. William Bray supplemented his preliminary education by a high school course at Chateaugay, Franklin county, New York, and following his graduation he matriculated in Union College, which institution he attended from 1907 until 1911, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Arts in the latter year. His professional training was acquired in the Albany Law School, which in 1913 conferred upon him the degree of LL. B. He then became a clerk in the law office of the firm of Weeds, Conway & Cotter at Plattsburg, Clinton county, New York, but in the following year came to Utica and here formed a partnership with Clarence E. Williams. At the end of three years — in 1917 — he severed this relationship to become associated with Fred J. Sisson and subsequently followed his profession as a member of the firm of Merrill, Sisson & Bray until he retired therefrom several years ago to enter upon an independent practice. The large and important clientage accorded him attests his ability in the work of the courts. His name is on the membership roll of the Oneida County Bar Association and the State Bar Association. In addition to his professional activity he occupies the position of secretary of the Mohawk Asbestos Slate Company, Incorporated, of Utica, and is a director in various other business concerns of this city and vicinity.

Whatever else may be said of the legal fraternity, it cannot be denied that members of the bar have been more prominent actors in public affairs than any other class of the community. This is but the natural result of causes which are manifest and require no explanation. The ability and training which qualify one to practice law, also qualify him in many respects for duties which lie outside the strict path of his profession and which touch the general interests of society. Mr. Bray first became a factor in public life in 1918, when he was a candidate for surrogate against E. Willard Jones. In the fall of 1923 he was manager of the spectacular campaign for Mayor Gillmore. The following review of his political activities was printed in the Utica Daily Press under date of April 17, 1924:

"Eight months ago, at the time the Gillmore faction of the local democratic party officially swung into action, M. William Bray was a mere private in the ranks, one who was simply asked to endorse the candidacy of the mayor. That was all. Today he is the unanimous choice of the democrats of Utica and Oneida county as their leader. Ready to recognize and appreciate real leadership, that born of trustworthy actions and sincerity of purpose, democrats rallied to the candidacy of Mr. Bray at the organization meeting of the county committee yesterday and named him as the one who should conduct the fight in Oneida county this fall for president and governor. Shortly after the Gillmore candidacy was announced, supporters of the mayor awoke to the necessity of putting a fighter and real leader in charge. Many were considered but decision finally rested upon Bray. And the choice proved wise and successful. With only a few weeks to arganize his forces, Mr. Bray went at his task diligently, sacrificing himself and his law practice for the good of the party and — won. Fall primaries served to introduce the new county leader, and at once he became a state character. A closely contested primary and a missing ballot box sent the matter to the courts, and not only a recount but an additional primary was ordered in the disputed district of the fourteenth ward. That necessitated additional campaigning and leadership, and again Bray sailed out in front, colors flying gloriously. The decision, so unanimously in favor of Mr. Bray's cause, really won many additional votes at election, and the third victory of a brisk three months fight, the last one over the combined forces of the local democratic and republican 'organization' forces, installed Bray with no end of confidence among democracy of Oneida county. The spring primaries of this month found the new leader at his best. He swept the city forces, overcoming desertions and obstacles in many cases, and carried his fight equally as well in the county. Personal visits to committeemen soon impressed doubtful ones that a change was necessary and that Bray was the man. His unanimous choice followed."

In his speech of acceptance Mr. Bray said he realized the responsibility that goes with the honor conferred upon him and the confidence shown in him, and set forth as his aim the development of a "militant, courageous, cogent organization in Oneida county".

Fraternally Mr. Bray is identified with Utica Lodge No. 33, B. P. O. E., and with Utica Council of the Knights of Columbus, of which he was formerly deputy grand knight. He also belongs to the City Club and is deservedly popular in both social and professional circles of Utica and Oneida county.

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