Among those who have been successfully identified with mining interests in Tuolumne County is Joseph Bray, a well known resident of Sonora, where his prominence is indicated by the fact that he is now a member of the board of trustees of the city, having been chosen to that office by the vote of his fellow townsmen. He has been a resident of this place since 1862, having come to the west when a young man full of determination, ambition and resolute purpose. He was born at Phillips, Franklin County, Maine, on the 10th of May, 1835, and comes of a family that had its origin in England. His paternal grandfather emigrated from that country to New England, locating in Portland, Maine, at an early period in the development of the Pine Tree state. Melzar Bray, the father of our subject, was born in Portland, and after arriving at years of maturity he married Miss Betsy Clark, a native of Franklin County. They were Methodists in religious faith. The father was an industrious farmer and followed his chosen occupation until his death, which was occasioned by quick consumption in the forty-ninth year of his age. His wife passed away some years previously, leaving seven children, Joseph being then but a little lad of six summers. Five of the family still survives, Morris Bray being now a resident of Santa Clara County, California.
Joseph Bray was educated in his native state and reared on his father’s farm. On the bright sunshiny days of summer he took his place in the fields, performing his share in the labor that resulted in securing good crops. Throughout his residence in the east he was connected with agricultural pursuits. At length he determined to try his fortune in California and by way of the Isthmus of Panama came to the Pacific coast. He experienced much rough sailing on the voyage, the great waves dashing over the ship until the vessel seemed in imminent danger, but at length they reached the harbor of San Francisco in safety, at 2 p. m. on the 13th of May, 1861. Mr. Bray then proceeded to Stockton, but followed farming on the plains in the employment of a Mr. Davis, who was largely engaged in handling stock. His wages were more than double what he would have received for the same work in Maine and he was pleased with the change made. Later he came to Sonora, which has been his home since 1862. In this locality he began mining on his own account just a half mile from the town, and was successful from the beginning. He became interested in the Bonanza mine, which had been worked in 1852 but was abandoned. When it was reopened Mr. Bray bought out a claim in it in 1876 and he and his partners afterward took out gold to the value of three hundred thousand dollars. A little later he sold his interest for seven thousand dollars. He afterward engaged in loaning money and also worked at the carpenter’s trade. He has a large brick shop in a good locality on the main street of the town and is one of Sonora’s well-to-do citizens.
In politics Mr. Bray has been a lifelong Republican and for eighteen years he has served as one of the trustees of the city. No higher testimonial of his efficient service could be given. He has exercised his official prerogative to advance the best interests of the county in securing the improvement of the streets and in the building of substantial bridges, all of which have been a great value to the town. He is a faithful and progressive city officer who richly deserves the gratitude of his fellow townsmen. He is most true and loyal to every duty and no trust reposed in him has ever been betrayed.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.