Thursday, July 13, 2017

Ray Nash Road

Ray Nash Road

Have you recently placed “Find Waldo”?  No?  Yes?  How did you do, and did you have fun doing it?  Or was it frustrating?

Well, I embarked on a search for “Find Ray Nash”.  I cannot say it was fun, more frustrating, yet in the end I did learn a few things.  Hopefully what I learned will help the staff and docents at the Harbor History Museum answer the next time they get ask “Who is Ray Nash”.

HHM Research Room, Plat Map of Ray Nash Valley, Arlene-Artondale

First there is no individual person named Ray Nash. However, on the bright side, there was an Ira L. Ray and a Benjamin Franklin Nash.  Both men homesteading in in the area now known as Ray Nash Valley, and both men gave part of their property to Pierce County for the construction of the Ray Nash Road in 1889 shortly before Washington Territory became a state in November 1889.  The area called today Ray Nash Valley is a small rural valley south of Rosedale between the Artondale area and Henderson Bay.

Ira L. Ray was born in Wisconsin in August 1854.  He married in 1880.  He and his wife, Louise S. Ray,(1875-1901) moved to the Washington Territory and homesteaded in Arletta in 1890 and received land grants for the following properties in Pierce County:  Willamette Meridian, Township 021N, Range 001E, Aliquots N1/2SW 1/4, Section 14 and Section 15, Document 10966, Accession Number WASAA083331.

By 1892 the Rays were living in North Tacoma; in 1893 he is listed in the Tacoma City Directory as employed in Real Estate and Loans, with his office at 318 California Building.  in 1896, Ray had a Bicycle Shop at 908 South Tacoma Avenue.  The Rays then move to Pendleton, Umatilla, Oregon where the 1900 US Census shows Ira’s occupation as a grain Broker.  Unfortunately Louise dies on December 27, 1901. By 1910, Ira is living in Portland with Edith E. Failing Carnie in a civil union.  In 1918, Edith’s surname is changed legally to Ray acknowledging the civil union.  In 1912 Portland City Directory, Edith is listed as widow of Ira L. Ray.

Now, Benjamin Franklin Nash.  His time in Washington appears more stable.  

Benjamin was born in Watertown, Jefferson, New York July 3, 1837.  He enlisted in the 32nd Regiment, Wisconsin Infantry, Company B as a private on September 19, 1864 as a Union soldier.  He was mustered out on June 30, 1865.  

Nash’s first wife, Martha Board was born February 22, 1848 in Burnham, Somerset, England.  The Nash had a son, Stephen Harry on June 15, 1866 at which time they were living in Elroy, Wisconsin.   Their daughter Mary Eliza was born 1871, she died December 1883..  They were still living in Elroy when Martha died at age 35 on January 19, 1884.  

Three years after Martha’s death Benjamin married Jane Nash.  Jane was also born in New York in 1837.  He was already living in Artondale at this time and he is listed on the Arletta School #39 documents as being the School Clerk for the Arletta School in 1886, as well as the 1887 Territorial Census.    Shortly afterward, they moved west to Washington Territory where in 1890 they received a land grant for 160 acres described in BLM Accession WAOAA083344. 

After selling property to Pierce County for the construction of Ray Nash Road, he moves to Tacoma.  In 1900 his occupation is shown as carpenter on the Census.  In 1910 he builds a house at 1110 North Prospect Street.  Benjamin died December 2, 1918.

The Tacoma Daily Ledger posted a very short obituary on December 3, 1918 for Nash which reads:  Benjamin F. Nash  Benjamin F. Nash, 81 years old, 5623 South L Street, died yesterday.  He is survived by a son, Harry Nash of Pullman.  The body was removed to C. O. Lynn Company’s.

So, yes, I found Ray and Nash!

Submited by a reader showing a better map than original in blog

Submitted to us by a Reader showing the two properties today
These two additional maps submitted by a Reader shows how invaluable input but all of you is so important in maintaining historical records.  Thank you, Reader.


  • Tacoma Public Library, Northwest Room
  • Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records
  • Pierce County Comprehensive Plan, OB Introduction, Attachment B to LUAC Report, March 2015
  • Pierce County Assessor Archives

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1 comment:

  1. Excellent work on finding Ray and Nash. I never knew the story. With the information you posted on the Harbor History Museum blog last week, I was able to locate the properties involved. Attached is a map from 1889 showing each. Nash's property is clearly marked, but Ray's says J. L. Ray (or maybe Roy). Parcel maps were notorious for mistakes in the names of property owners, and the legal description you gave for Ray's place matches J. L. Ray. Also attached is a contemporary overhead photo showing where the Ray and Nash properties were.