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History of the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations: Biographical

NY: The American Historical Society, Inc. 1920

p. 193 - 195:

Charles R. Brayton
Charles R. Brayton
'This photo was taken on the day General Brayton enlisted in the U. S. Army, age 21, 1861, as First Lieutenant.'

GENERAL CHARLES RAY BRAYTON  --  The name Brayton is an ancient English patronymic of local origin, and is found in records and registers of an eary date.  The family in America dates from the beginning of Colonial immigration, and has been continuous in New England since the year 1643, when Francis Brayton, immigrant ancestor and founder, was received as an inhabitant of Portmouth, in the Colony of Rhode Island.  The name is a notable one in the history of American affairs.  In the direct line of the late General Charles Ray Brayton were many men whose names are of vital interest in the New England annals. The Brayton coat-of-arms is as follows:

Arms - Azure two chevrons between as many mullets or.
Crest - A mullet or.
(I)  Directly descended from the progenitor, Francis Brayton, through a line of forbears who helped to lay the foundations of Rhode Island, was Daniel Brayton, a conspicuous figure in public life throughout the early colony prior to the American Revolution, a large landowner, and gentleman of parts. Daniel Brayton  married Elizabeth Atwood, and they were the parents of one son, Charles, mentioned below.

(II)  Charles Brayton, son of Daniel and Elizabeth (Atwood) Brayton, was born in the town of Warwick, R. I., October 31, 1772.  He attended the local schools, but supplemented his education at home with the aid of his father and mother.  Early in life he learned the trade of blacksmith, but later abandoned this to enter the field of public affairs, for which he was well fitted both by reason of diligent study and tastes.  In 1794 he was admitted a freeman of Warwick, and in the following year was elected to the office of constable.

At the outbreak of the Revolution he enlisted in the Pawtuxet Rangers and served under Captain Benjamin Arnold.  In 1796 he was chosen first lieutenant of the Second Company of Warwick Militia, and in 1797 elected captain.  In 1798 he became town sergeant and collector of taxes, in which office he served for five years.  During this entire period he was studying earnestly to prepare himself for more important public posts.  In 1804 Charles Brayton was chosen town clerk of Warwick, and continued to fill that office until his death, with the assistance of his sons in later years, when his time was employed with larger affairs. In 1813 he was chosen Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas.  In 1808 he became colonel of the famous Kentish Artillery, and commanded the corps for five years.  In 1814 Judge Brayton was elected Justice of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island, and served for four years.  Confidence in his integrity and ability to administer the duties of this important office was implicit, and so great was the general belief in his knowledge and sense of equity that many cases were privately sumitted to him and his advice was accepted and sought as a finality in matters of controversy.  Judge Brayton was elected to the Rhode Island General Assembly in 1820, and returned to office for many years.  In 1822 he was a member of the House called to revise the laws of the State. In 1824 he was a member of the convention called to frame a new constitution, which, however, was not accepted by the people.  In 1827, on the reorganization of the judiciary of the State, he was elected judge of the Supreme Court, and continued to fill that office with great honor to himself and large service to the State until his death, which occurred November 16, 1834.   He married, in 1795, Rebecca Havens, daughter of William Havens, of Warwick.  They were the parents of four children:  1. Charles Atwood, who died at the age of sixteen years.  2.  Ann Mary.  3. Hon. George A.  4.  Hon. William D., mentioned below.

(III)  Hon. William D. Brayton, son of Hon. Charles and Rebecca (Havens) Brayton, was born in the village of Apponaug, Warwick, R. I., November 6, 1815.  His early education was received at home, and after attending private schools he entered Kent Academy, in East Greenwich, where he remained from 1827 to 1830, and in 1831-32 pursued his studies at Kingston Academy under Hon. Elisha R. Potter.  In 1832 he entered Brown University in the class that included Professor  J. L. Lincoln, Rev. A. N. Arnold, D. D., William H. Potter, S. L. Dunnell, S. P. Shepard, and Hon. J. P. Knowles; but in the autumn of 1834 he left the University on account of his father's death and his own impaired health.  From 1835 to 1838 he engaged in the lumber trade in the firm of G. A. & W. D. Brayton, acting also as deputy town clerk of Warwick.

In 1841 he was elected to the State Legislature, and re-elected in 1842, but resigned and was commissioned quartermaster of the Fourth Regiment of Militia, serving in this capacity during the troublesome times of the 'Dorr War'.  In 1844 he became town clerk of Warwick, and in the following year resigned  this office to become a member of the town council, and for many years served in this body, finally becoming its president.  In 1847 he was elected president of the Warwick Council, and in 1848 became Senator from Warwick, in the upper house of the Rhode Island General Assembly.  In 1851 he was elected Representative to the General Assembly; in 1855 again chosen to the State Senate; and in 1856 was one of the electors of President and Vice-President.  In 1857 he was elected State Representative to the Thirty-Fifth Congress of the United States, and served through the stormy period which preceded the Civil War until 1861.  He was for many years a co-laborer of Hon. H. B. Anthony and Hon. N. F. Dixon and many others of the leading men of the State of Rhode Island.  He supported the cause of the Union with all his resources, and was indefatigable in enlisting, equipping, forwarding and paying soldiers, aiding them in procuring bounties, and in caring for their families.  In 1862 he was appointed by President Lincoln, Collector of Internal Revenue for the Second District of Rhode Island.  He resigned his collectorship in 1871, and in 1872 was a delegate to the National Republican Convention in Philadelphia.

Mr. Brayton was one of the commissioners to direct the erection of the State Prison.  For some time prior to his death he had charge of the money order department of the post office of Providence.  In political affiliation he was a Whig until the formation of the Republican party, of which he later became a member.  He was earnest in his support, both public and private, of all efforts toward the improvement of public education and the development of civic resources.  In 1859 Brown University conferred upon him the honorary degree of Master of Arts in recognition of his scholarly qualities and public services.  He was a member of the Baptist Church of Apponaug, and active in support of its charitable undertakings.  Hon. William Daniel Brayton married, in September, 1839, Anna Ward Clarke, daughter of Ray Clarke, of East Greenwich; she died in 1858, and he married (second), in 1866, Susan Josephine Baker, of Warwick, who died in 1874.  Among the several children of Hon. William D. Bratyon was General Charles Ray Brayton, mentioned below.

(IV)  General Charles Ray Brayton, son of Hon. William Daniel and Anna W. (Clarke) Brayton, was born at Apponaug, R. I., August 16, 1840.  He was a nephew on his mother's side of General Nathanael Greene, of Revolutionary fame, and a direct descendant of Hon. Samuel Ward, of early Colonial days.

Charles R. Brayton received his early education in the public schools of Apponaug, later attending Providence Conference Seminary, the Classical Seminary at Kingston Hill, a boarding school at Brookfield, Mass., and the Fruit Hill Classical Institute, where he prepared for college.  He matriculated at Brown University, and was pursuing his studies there at the outbreak of the Civil War.  He left college before his graduation and returned to Warwick, where he organized a company for the Third Rhode Island Volunteers.  He was commissioned from Providence, August 27, 1861, for three years, and was mustered into the United States service at Camp Ames, R. I., on October 9, following, as first lieutenant in Captain John H. Gould's company, Third Rhode Island Heavy Artillery.  He was afterwards transferred to Company H and then to Company C.  Going immediately to the fighting front, he participated in some of the most stirring engagements of the war. The Third Rhode Island Heavy Artillery was the largest military organization ever sent into the field by the State of Rhode Island.  It was organized at Camp Ames in August and September, 1861, and on September 7, the regiment consisting of nine companies embarked for Fort Hamilton, where the tenth company was formed and the regiment organization completed.  The regiment was then nominally a regiment of infantry, but the name was changed officially on December 19 to that of the Third Regiment, Rhode Island Heavy Artillery.  On October 12, it embarked for Fortress Monroe, where the forces were gathering under General Thomas W. Sherman and Commodore Du Pont preparatory to a descent upon the coast of South Carolina.  While in camp at this place the regiment changed its uniform of gray for that of Union blue. On October 29 the expedition got under way, and after a stormy passage began to assemble off Port Royal, S. C., November 4.  The regiment was present at the naval engagement of November 7 but did not participate, as planned in the capture of the forts, as the participation of the land forces had to be abandoned in consequence of the loss during the voyage of the greater portion of the means of disembarkment of troops.  Two companies, however, B and C, were landed on the day of the engagement, and the remainder of the regiment on the following day.  This was the only expedition in which the regiment served as a unit.  Never after this were the ten companies brought together in any one combined movement, and even when several companies served in the same campaign, they were not all in the same command.  Soon after landing at Port Royal, the companies were separated never to meet again as a regiment, and not even at their final muster-out.

Companies B and C, the latter commanded by Captain Brayton, garrisoned Fort Wells on Hilton Head, companies D and H, Fort Seward, at Bay Point, company I to Otter island to garrison Fort Drayton, and the remainder of the regiment manned the intrenchments which it helped to construct on Hilton Head.  During its service the regiment, or detachment of it, participated in the following engagements:  Fort Pulaski, Sucessionville, Pocotaligo, Morris Island, Fort Sumpter, Fort Wagner, Olustee, Drury's Bluff, Laurell Hill, Honey Hill, Deveaux Beck, Fort Burnham, Petersburg, and many minor encounters.  Company C under Captain Brayton, on several occasions accompanied expeditions into the enemy's country for the capture of property and the rescue of slaves.  This Battery served its light guns from the transport 'John Adams', and rendered signal service, notably in the expedition up the Combahee river, in June, and again against Darien, Ga.

During the winter of 1863-64, a large part of the regiment remained on Morris island, and was almost constantly, day and night, under fire.  In November companies A and E joined the six already there, and Lieutenant Colonel Brayton assumed command of these eight companies at the front, through Colonel Metcalf was at Morris island a part of the winter, as was also Major Ames.  The return and muster-out of those who did not re-enlist took place at different times.  On August 24, 1864, Captains Strahan and Turner arrived in Providence with the first detachment, which was mustered out August 31.  On September 30, 1864, Colonel Brayton and most of the field and line officers arrived with another detachment, who were mustered out October 4, 1864.  While on Morris island, Colonel Brayton was appointed Chief of Artillery on the staff of General Gillmore, of the Department of the South.  Charles R. Brayton was at all times with his command bearing a loyal part in its engagements and expeditions, and achieved a gallant reccord for brave and meritorious service, for which he was commissioned captain, November 28, 1862, lieutenant-colonel, November 17, 1863, colonel, March 22, 1864.  On March 13, 1865, he was breveted brigadier-general, and was mustered out of the service in October of the same year.  He was a forceful and able commander, and through military genius and executive ability the troops under his command developed into an organization of exceptional fitness and excellence.  He ranked among the foremost of New England generals in the war, and during the period of his service acquired a prominence and prestige in military and public affairs, which made him an honored figure in Rhode Island life until the time of his death.  Returning to the North after the war, General Brayton held the office of Deputy Collector of Internal Revenue in Rhode Island.  He subsequently held the offices of postmaster of Port Royal, S. C., and captain in the Seventeenth United States Infantry Regiment, resigning the later post after two months. He next held the office of United States Pension Agent for Rhode Island.

Shortly afterward, General Brayton entered the field of public affairs and politics.  He was elected deputy town clerk and trial justice of Warwick, R. I., and subsequently became postmaster of the city of Providence.  He was a figure of influence in Republican politics throughout the State of Rhode Island, and was said to be the most powerful personality in Republican politics in the State.  For many years he was chairman of the Republican State Central Committee, and a member of the Republican National Committee. In 1901 General Brayton was admitted to the bar of Rhode Island, and within a short time became one of the foremost leaders of the legal profession in Rhode Island.  He was a man of wide culture and great intellectual attainments, possessing great versatility of mind and tastes, as is shown by the varied phases of his career.  In 1903 the loss of his sight compelled his retirement from active life, at a time when, although advanced in years, he was a vital force in public life in Rhode Island.  He was a brilliant conversationalist, a forceful and convincing as well as graceful speaker, a finished writer of lucid and direct style.  His death occurred at Providence, R. I., September 23, 1910.

General Brayton married, at Fruit Hill, North Providence, R. I., on March 13, 1865, Antoinette Percival, daughter of Stanton Beldon, well-known scholar and educator.  They were the parents of two children:  1. Antoinette Percival, deceased, married Henry B. Deming, of Providence.  2. William Stanton, married Alice Waite, daughter of Professor Waite, of Cornell University; connected with the General Electric Company.  Mrs. Brayton survives her husband, and resides in Providence, R. I.  The Beldon coat-of-arms is as follows:

Arms - Argent a fesse between three fleur-de-lis sable.
Motto - Deo Duce.

Brayton Cemetery, Post Road, Warwick, RI (WK034)
Abby Greene,
daughter of Wm. D. and Anna W. Brayton
died Feb. 23, 1844
aged 4 months & 14 days
daughter of Wm. D. and Anna W. Brayton
died Nov. 27, 1849
aged 1 month & 16 days
Emily Greene,
daughter of Wm. D. and Anna W. Brayton
died Aug. 18, 1852,
aged 4 months and 1? day
Francis, son of Wm. D. and Anna W. Brayton
died July 28, 1846, aged 19 days
Jessie Maxson, daughter of Wm. D. and Anna W. Brayton
died Dec. 14, 1849, aged 2 months & 3 days
Abby Greene, daughter of Wm. D. and Anna W. Brayton
died June 28, 1852
aged 2 months & 11 days
in Memory of ------- Brayton
daughter of Charles and Rebecca Brayton
who died Feb.? 23, 1820
aged 21 years & 13 days
Benjamin Brayton
died Sept. 15, 1894
An infant daughter of
Wm. D. & Anna W. Brayton
died Dec. 20, 1856, aged 23 days

In memory of Francis, son of Wm. D. & Anna W. Brayton
died Ju----- 1858, aged 10 years ------ & 3 days
Ann Marcia, daughter of
George A. and Celia C. C.  Brayton
she was born Oct. 11, 1844
and left us Dec. 26, 1847
"We shall go to her but she shall not return to us."
In memory of Charles A. Brayton
son of Charles and Rebecca Brayton
who died March 27, 1816
aged 15years, 8 mos, ?? days
Charles H. Brayton, born Sept. 29?, 1859, died Feb. 21, 1905
his wife Margaret L., born June 30?, 1862, died Mar. 20, 1942
Eugene C. Brayton, 1869 - 1952
his wife Mary E. Wilbur, 1859 - 1928
Frederick H. Brayton, 1868 - 1941
his wife Isora B. Matteson, 1868 - 1934
William F. Brayton, 1861 - 1931
his wife Mary A. Foshay, 1859 - 1928
Irving L., 1878 - 1955
his wife Hattie S., 1877 - 1946
Susan A. M. Pierce, 1848 - 1906
C. Mable Pierce, 1893? - 1921
Sarah J. Brayton,
wife of Otis F. Spencer
born Sept. 15, 1857
died Aug. 1, 1928
Harriet N. Brayton
wife of Charles A. Verry
born Sept. 27, 1865
died Apr. 22, 1922

Celia C. C. Brayton
died Aug. 4, 1889
in her 73d year
"He will give you rest"
Anna Ward Brayton
wife of William D. Brayton
and daughter of --- & Celia Harris? Clarke???
born Aug. 26, 1820
died May 12, 1858
in the 38th year of her age
Roby B. Brayton
born Aug. 25, 1837
died Jan. 21, 1921
At Rest
William D. Brayton
born November 6, 1815
died June 30, 1887
in his 72th year
Town Councilman
State Senator and Representative
Member of Congress 1856 - 1860
George Arnold Brayton
son of Charles and Rebecca Brayton
born Aug. 4, 1803
died April 21, 1880
He was from 1843 to 1868
one of the associate justices
and chief justice
of the supreme court of Rhode Island
Upright, learned, faithful
he performed his public duties
with a diligence, a patience
a wisdom and an integrity
which won and confidence and gratitude of his fellow citizens
and gained for him
an name in jurisprudence.


These documents are made available free to the public for non-commercial purposes by the Rhode Island USGenWeb Project. Transcription and pictures 2001-2 by Beth Hurd

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