52 Ancestors: Mary Ellis Pray #35

I’m participating in the 52 Ancestors challenge: Post about a different ancestor each week of the year. “Back to School” is the theme for week 35.

I have already written about several ancestors who were teachers as it was a common occupation in my family. This time I’ll talk about my great-grandmother Mary Ellis Pray. She was born in 1866 to James Wingate Pray and Georgianna Sawyer while they were living in Brunswick, Maine. When she was two, they moved to the town of Bath where she lived until finishing high school in 1883. She then attended Colby College which was the first all-male college in New England to go co-educational in 1871. She graduated with honors.

Mary’s mother Georgiana was able to teach school with a high school education. Mary spent several years teaching with a college degree in Maine, and in Brattleboro, Vermont. Then she went back to school to complete a Master’s degree in Education at the University of Chicago. There she met her husband Ora Philander Seward and stopped teaching for a while to raise a family.

While they were living in Mattawan, Michigan, one of the local schools needed a principal. The farm was not doing well, so Mary took the job. I am not sure of the timing, but I believe she was still working when she came down with influenza in early 1913. The ‘flu turned into pneumonia and she died in February 1913 at 44 years of age.


Parker McCobb Reed, History of Bath and Environs, Sagadahoc County, Maine: 1607-1894 (Bath, ME: Lakeside Press, Printers, 1894), 216; digital images, Google, Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=UBSLCfFCFcYC : accessed 21 July 2018.

“Michigan Deaths and Burials, 1800-1995,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FHTT-M8S : 9 December 2014), Mary Seward, 03 Feb 1913; citing Lawton, Van Buren, Michigan, reference v D p 70; FHL microfilm 1,019,196.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close