You didnít mention what your familyís connection with Person County, NC, was. I donít find any Ray at all in the censuses for that county, but we have to allow for misreading by abstractors.
You also didnít mention whether yours is a black family. If so, it is clear why they werenít in censuses before 1870.
I myself donít have any connection with a Ray family. By chance, though, I know of a Robert Ray born about 1799 who had some association with adjacent Caswell County. He would have been a generation older than the Robert you mentioned. In August 1845, this older man was interviewed in Grainger County, Tennessee, about a suit in the Caswell County, NC, court. He described conversations with Moses Fuller of Caswell, which Ray thought had taken place in 1836 and 1837. In his deposition, Ray mentioned that he would be 46 years old in the coming December.
The Caswell County papers can be seen here. Images 18 and 19 are about Robert Ray.
The censuses show that there were Ray families in Caswell County from 1800 on, but no Robert was ever listed as head of a household there.
You may get more help if you tell where your Robert Ray was living when and how you know that.
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