June 25, 2018 will mark the 200th anniversary of John Pray’s arrival to Waterville as a settler. In recognition of his role as the city’s founder, the Waterville Historical Society will sponsor several events this year in his honor. On Wednesday, April 18, “An Evening with John Pray, Esquire: The Founder of Waterville” will be presented by Jim Conrad, WHS President and re-enactor. The program is free to the public and will be held at Browning Masonic Community, 8883 Browning Drive at 7:00 PM.
Pray’s small party consisted only of himself (age 34), his 28 year-old wife Lucy, four children ages 14 months to seven years, and an 8 year-old nephew. They traveled by wagon from Smithfield, New York to Buffalo and by schooner to the site of Fort Meigs. A day later they found sanctuary at a spare cabin built by settler James Calendar Adams at the corner of Dutch and River Roads.
The program seeks to portray the events surrounding the development and growth of Waterville as seen through the eyes of Pray—explorer, speculator, farmer, realtor, and industrialist. In keeping with his sense of humor, every attempt will be made to humanize and breathe life into this extraordinary visionary.