History of Raytown

The state of Missouri was admitted to the Union in 1821. At this time, Jackson County was not part of the state, but the treaty of 1826 added this land at a cost of $800.00.

Townships were surveyed in 1826, and in 1827 the county was formed and named for our seventh president, Andrew Jackson. The land in township 49 was accidentally not put up for sale and was therefore referred to as "The Lost Township." Families lived there, however, and were known as "squatters" since they did not own the land. After a survey in 1843, the land was sold and the "squatters" became landowners.

The opening of the Santa Fe Trail increased the number of people coming into the township, as this area was the final "jumping off" point for settlers and adventurers heading west. Cattle, oxen, fruits and vegetables were purchased from the farmers already in the area. Soon blacksmiths, wagon makers and iron workers were coming from the east to add their much-needed skills to the growing number of wagon trains.

William Ray, born in Butler County, Ohio, in 1808 was a blacksmith who moved to Jackson County around 1848 and established his shop right on the Santa Fe Trail. His wife, Nancy, and their seven children accompanied him. Nancy died in 1849, probably during a severe cholera epidemic, and William then married a widowed mother of seven children, Ailcy Dealy Prine Hocker. William and Ailcy then added five children of their own to the family.

By 1860, William Ray's blacksmith shop was well established on what is now the intersection of 63rd & Raytown Road. He purchased the seven acres of land for $72.16. At this time, the citizens of the area began clamoring for more and better roads to Kansas City and Independence where the major markets for their goods existed. The following appears in the Jackson County Court minutes, Book B, page 98, February, 1860, Order 929.66.S. Davenport Petition:

"The Undersigned your petitioners would respectfully represent that they,as well as many citizens of the county are much grieved and bothered for the want of a county road leading from their neighborhood in the direction of Independence. They therefore, pray your honors to appoint commissioners to lay out a county road from William Ray's shop on the Santafee (sic) road in a southerly direction, crossing Little Blue at the rockford (sic) and intersecting the high grove road near Abraham Chrisman...."

The commissioners were appointed and consequently laid out and approved what is now Raytown Road. William Ray's shop, therefore, became a geographic landmark and is mentioned twenty-seven times in the next fourteen months of county court proceedings. William Ray himself appears to have been something of a landmark also, for by 1858, his neighbors were referring to the town as "Ray's Town," and eventually, "Raytown." Henry Ray describes his grandfather as a "quiet person with dark hair and blue eyes, stocky build, and a little over medium height." William Ray and his family moved to Oregon to be with his married children. He died on August 18, 1874. A marker today stands on the site of his blacksmith shop in his memory.