James Leland Lay
On Sep 23, 1893, James L. Lay received a patent on a homestead in the NW 1/4 of Section 31, Township 1 North, Range 42 West 4 1/2 miles straight south of the town of Laird. Since it normally took four to five years to "prove up" on a homestead, that would indicate he originally filed on the land about 1888 or 1889. That is assuming it was a "homestead" not a "pre-emption".
January 6, 1899 "J.L. Lay moved into his new home this week."
In 1898 "J.L. Lay, J.H. Waters and James Drummond attended the G.A.R. encampment at McCook this week."
In 1899 "James Lay is fencing the quarter section of land recently purchased
from Mr. Waters."
In 1900 the Republicans nominated James L. Lay as a candidate for Yuma County Commissioner.
Maggie proved up a homestead a few miles southwest of James' in 1901 - T1S R43W under the name Maggie L Spriggs.
March 1908 "Mr. Dyer, a Wray liveryman, was in town (Laird) Wednesday visiting his brother, James Lay."
1910 real estate transfers "James L. Lay to Charles A. McGrew, Lots in Laird, $800"
The 1910 census has Jas. and Maggie are in Laird precinct, with "own income" - they're on the census between the Murdocks and Andersons.
The photo below would be about 1911, because the four people in the buggy are Maggie, Pearl, Isabelle, and Maxine,. The two girls next to "Grandma Lay" are Maggie Spriggs' daughters Lela and Tess.
Because of the 1910 Haigler Nebraska item "Little Mary Spriggs is visiting her grandma at Laird during Mr. and Mrs. Spriggs absence. Pearl Schilt is keeping house and looking after the other children." the second woman in the buggy might be that Pearl. Miss Pearl Schilt was among those attending the 1913 funeral of the Spriggs daughter. (Footnote 1) (
1913 "James Lay... was closing the deal with M.H. Wood, of Woodruff, Kansas, but formerly of Laird, whereby Mr. Lay exchanged his farm five miles south of Laird for a business building and residence in Woodruff, which are now occupied by Mr. Wood. While here, Mr. Lay was a guest of his sister-in-law, Mrs. Isabel Dyar and daughter, Miss Buna."
April 1914 Laird "James Lay has bought of Harry Brodn (sic) a fifty
foot lot adjoining his present houselot near the north end of Campbell Avenue,
In 1920 James and Mary are in Granite, Phillips County, Kansas, with no occupation. Granddaughter Edna Lay is with them. twelve years old. On the same census pages is Daughter Maggie Sprigg, Homer, and their kids.
From the Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography, Volume 2:
Lay was born in Mount Pleasant, Ohio, the son of James Lander Lay and Mary Jane Bellew. In 1870 Morgan, Coles County, Illinois he's Ellsworth SAY, one year old. He had a brother Encil Lay and a sister Maggie Lay Sprigg. In 1880 Union County Iowa all Maggie L. is six, and Encil O. is seven month old. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to northeastern Colorado. At the age of 18, Lay left home looking for adventure with his childhood friend William McGinnis. McGinnis soon returned home, claiming he was homesick. Later, Lay would use the name "McGinnis" as an alias when working as a ranch hand
James, Mary, and Encil are farming in Laird Precinct, Yuma County, 1900.
Mary's sister Isabel had married O.P Dyar, and their homesteads were only a few miles apart. One of the Dyar descendants said that "when Elza came to visit, Isabel would make him sleep in the barn, because he was kind of a scalawag."
William Ellsworth (Elza Lay, William H. McGinnis), desperado, November 25, 1868 - November 10 1934. Born in Ohio, raised in Ohio , he became of of the most noted members of the so-called Wild Bunch, and the gentleman brains of some of their most daring escapades. His family moved to Wray Colorado when he was small, Elza becoming a cowboy and minor rustler. His first holdup was of a peddler in Brown's Hole, Colorado, about 1884. He ran a saloon briefly near Fort Du Chesne, Uintah County, Utah, and reportedly tried counterfeiting, married and fathered two daughters.
Matilda Maude Davis - their daughter was Marvel Lay
With George LeRoy Parker (Butch Cassidy) and others "Robbers' Roost" was established southwest of Green River, Utah. On August 13, 1896, Lay, Cassidy and Bob Meeks held up the bank at Montpelier, Wyoming. Lay became Cassidy's chief lieutenant and was with him April 21, 1897 at Castle Gate, Utah for a coal mine payroll holdup. Lay participated in the June 2, 1899, train robbery near Wilcox, Wyoming. In a resulting pursuit Sheriff Josiah Hazen of Converse County, Wyoming was wounded mortally. With Cassidy and Harvey Logan, Lay fled south through Brown's Hole, Robbers' Roost, into Arizona and thence to Alma, New Mexico, where they went to work for the WS Ranch, remaining some time, Lay under the name William H. McGinnis. Here he met Sam Ketchum, an outlaw also from Utah, and on July 11, 1899, they held up a Colorado and Southern Railway train near Folsom, New Mexico, with William Carver and Bruce Weaver. A posse located the bandits in a Turkey Canyon cave near Cimarron, New Mexico, and on July 16 a gun battle erupted, resulting in death or mortal wounds for two posse men, lesser wounds for others, and among the desperadoes Ketchum was mortally wounded and Lay (or McGinnis) shot through chest and shoulder. He escaped but was arrested in Eddy County, New Mexico on August 16, tried and on October 10, 1899 sentenced to life imprisonment. He was released January 10, 1906, officially, although actually earlier, went south of the border and dug up his share of the 1899 train loot, supposed to be $58,000.
Afterwards, known sometimes as McGinnis instead of Lay, he married again and had a varied, but prosperous and lawful career. He died in Los Angeles and is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park cemetery.
Phyllis McGinnis, whose grandparents lived near the Lay family, said in 2014 "My aunt used to talk about how the gangs hid out in the area."