Ray Lyman Wilburm was born on April 13, 1875 in Boonesboro (later Boone), Iowa, the fourth of six children of Dwight Locke Wilbur and Edna Maria (Lyman) Wilbur. His father was descended from one of the founders of Rhode Island; the Lymans had roots in Massachusetts. Both families had moved westward during the nineteenth century. Dwight Wilbur earned an uneven living as a lawyer and partner in a local coal mine; his wife had once taught at Lake Erie Female Seminary in Ohio. Ray's only brother, Curtis Dwight Wilbur, eight years older than he, became secretary of the navy under President Coolidge and chief justice of the California supreme court. Wilbur's boyhood was unexceptional. Within a context of close, loyal family relationships, his father deliberately fostered a spirit of independence in the two sons. In 1883 the family moved to Jamestown, Dakota Territory, where Dwight Wilbur was general land agent for the Northern Pacific Railroad. Four years later they journeyed to Riverside, Calif. , where the developing of orange groves made them somewhat more comfortable financially.