Cyrus Newton Ray, archeologist and osteopathic surgeon, son of Reverend Cyrus Newton and Annie (Lockhart) Ray, was born in Kirksville, Missouri, on January 18, 1880. In 1897 the family moved to a farm near Frederick, Oklahoma. Ray worked at farming and was a traveling salesman until 1901. He worked as a rural mail carrier from about 1904 to 1906. He then trained in the new field of osteopathic medicine at the American School of Osteopathy at Kirksville, where he received a D.O. degree in 1909. After graduation he briefly practiced osteopathy at Fort Worth and Mansfield, Louisiana, before setting up permanent practice in Abilene in 1911. On March 1, 1916, he married Mary Montgomery. They had no children. During World War I he was appointed by the United States Marine Corps to serve as medical examiner for Abilene. He was a Baptist and a Democrat and was prominent in Abilene affairs. He was president of the Texas Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons in 1921 and a member of the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners in 1925–26. He was a big, aggressive man, who pursued his career and hobbies with great vigor. He authored booklets on medical research and public hygiene and wrote on plant hybridization, ceramics, gardening, and mineralogy. He developed several new breeds of irises. In 1927, when Texas archeology was still in its infancy, he began a systematic and successful search of the Abilene countryside for signs of prehistoric peoples. He published an article about some of his finding in Scientific American in 1928. That year he founded the Texas Archeological and Paleontological Society (later the Texas Archeological Society), which he envisioned as a research association of both amateurs and professionals, not an acquisitive group of relic collectors. In 1929 he began publication of an annual society bulletin. He was a competent technical editor, publishing papers by professional scholars and serious amateurs. The Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society remains today a widely read scientific publication. In 1937 he was a delegate to the International Symposium on early man at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. After almost single-handedly keeping the society alive for two decades, Ray eventually relinquished the reins in 1948. He remained active into the 1960s and died at Abilene on June 22, 1966. He was buried in Oak Wood Cemetery in Fort Worth. In his personal archeological research Ray explored the Abilene countryside in his spare time for years and reported his abundant finds in numerous Bulletin articles. He unearthed bones and made extensive finds of tools, points, and other artifacts in West Texas. His work generated interest in archeology in the Abilene area, but he believed (as did others later) that because he had no formal training and was considered an amateur that some of his discoveries were credited to others, while other areas of his work were overlooked altogether. Unfortunately, his forceful personality and strong opinions made him difficult to work with, and most of the conclusions he drew from his discoveries have not yet been tested by later work.
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E. Mott Davis, "The First Quarter Century of the Texas Archeological Society," Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 50 (1979). Duane Kendall Hale, "Cyrus N. Ray: The Abilene Man," West Texas Historical Association Year Book 55 (1979). Who's Who in America (1950–51). Bill Wright, "Cyrus N. Ray, 1880–1966," Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 39 (1968).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
E. Mott Davis,
“Ray, Cyrus Newton,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 18, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
January 1, 1996
Most Recent Revision Date:
April 30, 2019
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: