Queer Places:
Pioneer Cemetery, Lebanon, OR 97355

Ray Leonard (February 14, 1849 – January 13, 1921), born Rae, migrated to Oregon with her father in 1889.

Joseph Leonard, boot and shoemaker, and his wife had eight children in Bath, Maine. His eldest daughter, Rae, was the one who took up her father's trade. She went with him to Philadelphia in 1874 where they cobbled for 11 years. They then spent 4 years in Nevada, and finally arrived in Lebanon, Oregon.

By this time, with father's approval, Ray was passing as male. He was apparently a rival for the favors of a lady who used a large ear trumpet, but after the other man moved away, he ceased to call on the lady.

Joseph died in March 1894, and Ray continued the business. He lived in the back of the shop, and went fishing and hunting with other men from the town. The men would gather in his shop in the evenings to tell stories.

A frontier doctor, Dr. Mary Canaga Rowlands, tells what happened in 1911 when Ray was 62:

"As time passed, he became gray and looked quite old, complained of headaches, and often closed his shop at odd hours. Eventually, he began to wander about town at night and seemed disoriented. People who knew him and found him wandering would take him home. Finally, it became necessary to put him in the state hospital. It is customary to strip each patient entering the hospital and give them a bath before they are given quarters. The hospital immediately discovered that Ray Leonard was a woman. After her secret was out Ray made a rapid recovery and came back to Lebanon to live the rest of her life. The authorities made her wear dresses, but she confided to her friends that she wore pants below her dress because her legs got cold. ... Ray looked far more like a man to me than a woman. She would say, "Look at me, Dr. Rowland, do you think I have one feminine feature?" I had to admit that she certainly looked like a man. "

The men of the town no longer gathered in Ray's shop to tell tales. Ray started to frequent the Christian Science Church, but still went to Dr Rowland when ill.

He is buried at the Pioneer Cemetery in Lebanon. According to residents of Lebanon, Ray “dressed in overalls, and was thought by most who knew her, including the census taker, to be a man.” He died in 1921 – and his newspaper obituary referred to him as a woman.

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  1. https://zagria.blogspot.com/2012/11/ray-leonard-1849-1921-cobbler.html#.XDiPGc3SLIU
  2. https://queerestplaces.com/2009/02/17/a-passing-woman/