GRAY Family

Ambrose Williams Gray (1805-1867)

By Joseph Henry Hightower Moore

Written for Inman Methodist Church, Inman, Fayette County, Georgia 1998

 Submitted by Sara Jane Overstreet


Ambrose Williams Gray was one of the Trustees of Liberty Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church in 1854 and afterward. He was a great-grandson of John GRAY (died 1751) of Augusta County, Virginia, who is accepted by descendants as the immigrant ancestor of this family line.

The history of the Gray family was first researched in 1916-1917 for Mrs. Thomas Baldwin Hollis (Sarah Frances Gray) of Forsyth, Ga, by Alfred L. Holman, genealogist, of Chicago, Ill, and has been further researched by subsequent generations of Gray descendants, including Shi Gray Holmes of Zebulon, Ga, and Robert Allison Pendergrast, Sr. of Atlanta. Holman’s work and other documents relating to GRAY history were recorded in the office of the Clerk of the Superior Court, Pilke County, Zebulon, Ga. Deed Book 58, 29 Mar. 1975, by Shi Gray Holmes, Clerk of the Court. Other copies of Holman’s work were distributed over the years among various Gray descendants, although Eleanor Adams Dunson evidently had not seen it when her Gray history was published in 1960. (An erroneous lineage appears in Dunson’s work, The Dunson Family in the South (also Rogers, Adams and Gray), published by J. Blake Dunson, Atlanta 1960. Mrs. Dunson made the understandable error of confusing two men named Joseph Gray in Wilkes County, Ga., both with wives named Elizabeth Williams. One of these Josephs had come from Isle of Wight County, Va., and belonged to the family established in James City County, Va. by Thomas Gray before 1623/4. [See Virginia M. Meyer and John Frederick Dorman, eds. Adventurers of Purse and Persons, Virginia 1607-1624/5, published by the Order of First Families of Virginia, Richmond, The Dietz Press, Inc., Third Edition, 1987, pp.339-345.] The other Joseph Gray in Wilkes County, Ga. having come from Rutherford County, N.C. belonged to the line given here. Mrs. Dunson’s listing of his children and descendants is a useful reference.)

The Grays of this family line were undoubtedly Lowland Scots who moved to Ulster, Northern Ireland, during the settlement there of Scottish and English Protestants under the reign of King James I of England (VI of Scotland). John Gray’s close associations with the John Lyle family in old Augusta County, Virginia, suggest the likelihood that both families came from the same place in Ireland, the Lyles being traced to County Antrim, near Larne on the Irish east coast. Both the Grays and the Lyles appear to have come to America at the same time, about 1740, arriving no doubt through the port of Philadelphia and promptly migrating south along the Great Wagon Road through the Valley of Virginia to what was then Augusta County, now Rockbridge County, near the town of Lexington, where they were settled by 1742. The family would thus originally have been Presbyterians, but they became Methodist Episcopalians evidently on their 1802 marriage into the Williams family in North Carolina, or on their move to Georgia about 1810.

John Gray and his son Samuel were among the inhabitants of the Virginia frontier who in 1742 petitioned Royal Governor William Gooch to appoint officers to raise militia for defense of the frontier settlements against Indians raids. The lands of John and Samuel Gray were located in what was known as the Borden Tract and on the northwest side of the Timber Ridge in present Rockbrige County (named for the Natural Bridge, which is one of Virginia’s most noted scenic attractions and which lies in Rockbridge County). The nearby town of Lexington became a center of education under the influence of those early Ulster Scots Presbyterians who populated the area.

John Gray made his will in 1751, naming his wife Agnes Gray and children: (1) Jacob Gray, (2) William Gray, (3) David Gray, (4) Joseph Gray, (5) Benjamin Gray, (6) Ann Gray, (7) Samuel Gray, (8) John Gray and (9) Elizabeth Gray. The executors were his son Samuel Gray and his friend John Lyle. (Ref. Augusta County, Va. Will Book 1, p.396, will dated 23 Apr. 1751, proven 27 Nov. 1751.)

SAMUEL GRAY (c.1726-1775), son of John Gray above, was born in Ulster, Northern Ireland, and died in old Tryon County (now Rutherford County), N.C. He married Agnes (Nancy) McClung (d. 10 Aug. 1809). They lived in Augusta County, Va. until 1765, when they sold their lands in the Borden Tract and moved southward. They were in Tryon County, N.C by 1769, when Samuel Gray entered his land grant for 300 acres on Broad River. (Tryon County was cut off from Mecklenburg County in 1762 and in 1779 was divided into present Lincoln and Rutherford Counties, the old Tryon records being placed at the courthouse in Lincolnton, N.C. The Gray lands thus fell into present Rutherford County in 1779.)

Samuel Gray made his will in Tryon County 22 Apr. 1775 proven “the next morning after 4th Tuesday of July 1775” (Tryon/Lincoln County Court Records, 1769-1782, pages unnumbered.) The will named his wife Agnes Gray and children: (1) John Gray; (2) William Gray, moved to Jefferson Co., Tn; (3) James Gray (1755-1836), later known as Major James Gray, Revolutionary officer (captain and major), serving from 1775 to the end of the war, married Jane McClure of Rutherford Co.; (4) David Gray; (5) Ann Gray; (6) “all the children” including son Joseph Gray, who was not named in the will because it appears certain that he was born after his father’s death. (His father’s will was dated in April 1775; in the summer or fall of 1850, Joseph Gray stated in the Monroe Co., Ga. Census that he was age 75, suggesting that his birthday had occurred well past the month of April in 1775.) In his will Samuel Gray expressed concern for the education of his children and provided instructions and funds toward that end. The executor was his son James Gray.

JOSEPH GRAY (1755-21 Aug. 1857), son of Samuel and Agnes Gray, was born in Tryon (now Rutherford) County N.C and died in Monroe County, Ga. He married in Rutherford Co., N.C by family record on 21 Dec.1802, Elizabeth Williams (1784-29 Oct. 1859), daughter of John Williams (b. 1750-1760, d. 7 Oct. 1840) and his wife Elizabeth (Moore) Williams of Tryon/Rutherford Co., N.C. (Marriage Bond dated 22 Dec. 1802, Joseph Gray to Elizabeth Williams, Office of the Register of Deeds, Rutherford Co. N.C bond signed “James Gray for Joseph Gray”, James being Joseph’s older brother. The marriage date of 21 Dec. 1802 is from an old family record and may be off by one day.)

The Gray family clearly placed importance on their Williams blood because two children of Joseph Gray bore the Williams name. John Williams, age 80-90, was the male listed in the Joseph Gray household in the Monroe Co., Ga. 1840 Census, and is said by family record to have died in Muscogee County, Ga. and to have been buried in the city of Columbus. (John Williams died 7 Oct. 1840, in his 89th year [ref. Alfred L. Holman, “Williams Ancestry, John Williams” in “Gray History”, 1917.] John Williams evidently had other children then living in or near Columbus.) Old family records preserved in the Gray-Hollis family of Forsyth, Ga. identify John Williams’ wife as the former Elizabeth Moore and her mother in turn as the former Mary Davis. Joseph Gray’s father Samuel Gray witnessed the will of William Moore in Tryon Co., N.C (will dated 1 Oct. 1770), naming wife Mary Moore and children Joseph Moore, John Moore (a minor), and daughter Mary Moore. Elizabeth (Moore) Williams may have been another daughter of this William and Mary Moore. A further connection between the Grays and the Moores in Tryon/Rutherford County occurred in 1802 when Joseph Gray’s nephew Samuel Gray (son of James) made bond for his marriage to Frankey Moore (Rutherford County Marriage Bond, Samuel Gray to Frankey Moore, signed “James Gray for Samuel Gray” dated 22 Dec. 1802, the same date as the bond of Joseph Gray for his marriage to Elizabeth Williams, which James Gray had also signed).

Joseph Gray and his nephew Samuel Gray both evidently married on the same day (21 or 22 Dec. 1802), and perhaps in a joint ceremony, the brides Elizabeth Williams and Frankey Moore evidently being cousins. (The Uncle Joseph Gray was born in 1775; the nephew Samuel Gray in 1776, thus they were near the same age. The birth of this Samuel Gray, son of Major James Gray and grandson of the first Samuel in Tryon/Rutherford County, is proven by the Bible of young Samuel’s brother David Gray (b. 1783), which in 1916 was in the possession of David’s son William Arthur Gray (b.1823) of Rutherfordton, N.C. W. Arthur Gray was still living in 1916 in his 93rd year. His memory, described as then being perfectly clear, provides a proof for Joseph Gray as a son of Samuel and Agnes Gray and a brother of Major James Gray of Rutherford Co., as W. Arthur Gray stated in 1916 that he knew and clearly remembered his grandfather Major James Gray. Arthur being twelve years of age when his grandfather died in 1836, and he clearly remembered that his grandfather had brothers named “Billy” (William Gray who went to Tennessee) and “Joe” (Joseph Gray of Georgia). [Reference personal interview, Alfred L. Holman with W. Arthur Gray, Rutherfordton, N.C, 10 Nov. 1916, under “16. Samuel Gray” in Alfred L. Holman. “Gray History,” 1917.] At the same time, Mrs Thomas Baldwin Hollis (Sarah Frances Gray) of Forsyth, Ga. recalled in 1916 that her father Joseph Gray II (1821-1899) told her that his father Joseph Gray (1775-1857) had a brother known as Major James Gray of Rutherford County, N.C, thus corroborating the family connection recalled by W. Arthur Gray of Rutherfordton.)

Joseph and Elizabeth (Williams) Gray lived in Rutherford County, N.C. until about the year 1810, when they moved to Wilkes Co. Ga. About 1823 they moved to Pike County, Ga. and in 1824 to neighboring Monroe Co., Ga. settling in the vicinity of the later community of Bolingbroke, some fifteen miles northwest of the city of Macon. The home place which Joseph Gray purchased in 1824 was Land Lot 24, 13th Dist., Monroe County, (Monroe Co. Deed Book D, pp 25-26, John J. Harper of Monroe Co. to Joseph Gray of Pike Co. 15 Jul. 1824, witnessed by Ann Gray and Absalom Gray, children of Joseph). Joseph and Elizabeth Gray were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, as revealed by records of the Forsyth Methodist Church, in which delegates to the 3rd Quarterly Conference held at the Camp Ground 21 Sep. 1835, included Joseph Gray (Monroe County Historical Society, Inc., Monroe County, Georgia: A History, Atlanta, W. H. Wolfe Associates, 1979, p. 244). (This source, pp. 55-56, notes that the village of Bolingbroke began in 1824 as Stallings Store, that the name was changed to Prattville in 1844, and to Bolingbroke in 1866, and that the earliest families in the neighborhood included the Grays. [Ibid. 55-56].)

There can be no question that the Grays had been Scots Presbyterians in Ulster and in the Valley of Virginia, and that their transfer to the Methodist Episcopal Church had occurred either on their marriage into the Williams family in North Carolina in 1802, or during their residence in Wilkes County, Ga. between 1810 and 1824. It is a matter of record that the noted Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury held a great revival in Wilkes County in 1809 and afterward, during which many persons joined that denomination and a Methodist arbor was created which lasted for some years after.

In material circumstances, Joseph Gray was a prosperous farmer (or small planter for his place and time), his property near Bolingbroke consisting of several hundred acres of land. By 1850 Joseph Gray, Jr., and his young wife Eliza Howard and several infants were living in the Joseph and Elizabeth (Williams) Gray household and the combined black families belonging to Joseph Sr., and Joseph Jr., totaled seventeen persons, from whom the labor force of the farm was drawn. By the time of Joseph Gray’s death seven years later the black population of the farm probably numbered upwards of twenty persons. After the death of Joseph Gray, Sr., in 1857, the other Gray children deeded their interest in his landed estate to their brother Joseph Gray Jr., who made his permanent residence at his parents’ old home place. (See Monroe Co. Ga. Deed Book O, p. 141, deed dated 7 Dec. 1857 and signed by A. [Absalom] Gray, A. W. Gray, Davis Gray, Alston G. Harris [for wife Ann Gray], Matthew Harris [for wife Matilda Gray], Charles N. Hartsfield [for wife Eva Gray], Martha Clower [dau of Joseph Gray and widow of Simeon Clower], and Joseph W. Howard [for wife Elizabeth Gray], all grantors, to their brother Joseph Gray, Jr., the only member of the family who remained in Monroe County.)

The dates of the deaths of Joseph Gray and his wife Elizabeth (Williams) and their ages at the time of their deaths are established from old family records preserved in the Gray-Hollis family of Forsyth, Monroe Co. (Joseph Gray died in Monroe Co., 21 Aug. 1857, in his 83rd year; Elizabeth (Williams) Gray died in Monroe Co., 29 Oct. 1859, aged 75 [ref. Alfred L. Holman, “Gray History”, 1917]. The Monroe County 1850 Census corroborates their birth years.) While no carved stones seem to survive over their grave, it is supposed by the writer that they are buried in what is now known as the Shi-Howard Family Graveyard just off Shi Road about a mile from its intersection with present U.S. Hwy. 41 near Bolingbroke. (See Monroe County, Georgia: A History, referenced above under Cemeteries. “#98, Shi Cemetery-Howard Cemetery.”) Children of Joseph and Elizabeth (Williams) Gray were early settlers in Fayette and Henry Cos., Ga. and in the city of Griffin. The children were:

1. Absalom Gray (1803-c.1865) married first in Fayette Co., 23 Dec. 1829, Sarah Matthews (b.1800-1810-d. by 1834); and second, probably in Meriwether Co. c.1834, Mary F. (c.1815-c.1865). Absalom Gray first settled in Meriwether Co, Ga. where he appears in the 1830 and 1840 Censuses. Soon after 1840 he moved to the new town of Griffin, Ga. where he was a prosperous merchant, owner of the mercantile firm of A. Gray & Co. His town household included twelve blacks in 1860. He was a strong Methodist and was a founding trustee of the Griffin (Methodist) Female College in 1845 and continued as a trustee until he moved from Griffin late in his life. In 1864, as the Union army began its invasion of Georgia, the Grays were among a group of Griffin families who refugeed to the neighborhood of Troy in Pike County, Alabama. They remained there until Absalom Gray’s death some time near the end of the war. It appears that by 1867 neither he, his wife nor any of their children, were still living. Only one granddaughter, Laura Estelle Gray, is known to have survived the family’s war experience. Children of Absalom Gray, all born to his second wife Mary: (1) James Thomas Gray (c.1835–c.1862) stated by descendants to have been John Thomas Gray, but his name appears in records consistently as James, evidently died in Confederate service. He m. in Spalding Co., 10 Jul. 1855, Laura Morton Leslie (c.1836-1867) and had one daughter, Laura Estelle Gray (4 Mar. 1859–1942) who was brought up in the family of her grandaunt and uncle Alston and Annie (Gray) Harris in Henry Co. Ga. She m. in Henry Co., 2 Oct. 1884 James Wiley Brannan (1859-1919). (See Patricia Branan Austin, “Branan/Brannan” and Robert Earl Brannan Jr., “Brannan”, in Joseph Henry Hightower Moore, ed., First Families of Henry County, Georgia, pub. by the Genealogical Society of Henry and Clayton Counties, McDonough, Ga. 1993, pp.79 and 79.) (2) Mary Jane E. Gray (c.1839–post 1860), age 21 in Spalding Co. 1860 Census in the Absalom Gray household; no further record, presumed to have died. (3) Francis A. Gray (b. c.1842), age 18 in the 1860 Spalding Co. Census; no further record, presumed to have died in the Confederate War. (4) Queen Gray, given in a list of Absalom Gray’s children compiled by descendants of his siblings and attached to Alfred L. Holman’s “Gray History.” This child was not listed in the 1860 Spalding Co. Census and is presumed to have died young, or “Queen” may have been a nickname for Mary Jane E. Gray.

2. Ambrose Williams Gray, see below.

3. Ann Williams Gray (29 Mar. 1807–5 Apr. 1888) married in Monroe Co. 6 Dec. 1827, Alston Green Harris (12 Jan. 1806–17 Oct. 1896), son of Nelson and Nancy (Long) Harris of Greene and Hancock Cos, Ga., grandson of Matthew and Mary (Morris) Harris, natives of Isle of Wight Co., Va. who had moved to Granville (now Warren) County, N.C. and of Drury and Sarah (Green) Long of Halifax and Warren Cos, N.C. The Harrises belonged to the large family connection known as the Granville County Harrises of North Carolina, and previously the Isle of Wight Harrises of Virginia. (See John A. Brayton, The Five Thomas Harrises of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, Winston Salem, N.C., privately published 1995. See also Robert E. Harris, From Essex, England, To The Sunny Southern USA, Atlanta, Genealogical Press, 1994.) The Longs, Greens and their connections were also early families in the James River area of Virginia. Morris Harris (c.1765-1851), an uncle of Alston Green Harris, was an early settler in original Fayette County, now Clayton, where he had a large plantation on Flint River and present Mundy's Mill Road. Old Harris’s Bridge over the Flint on present Ga. Hwy. 54 was named for him. Guilford Harris (1793-1864) and Seaborn Harris (b.1798), both older brothers of Alston Harris, were also early settlers in Fayette County and left many descendants in this area. Alston and Ann (Gray) Harris first settled near Macon in Bibb County, Ga. After a few years they moved to northwest Upson County and settled at the place where White Oak Creek enters the Flint River. In 1833 they moved over the Flint River into Meriwether County, and in 1852 they moved to their final home in Henry County, at the place called Big Springs northwest of McDonough near the later village of Flippen. Alston Harris was a prosperous farmer there, having 400 acres of land in his plantation and in 1860 there were thirteen blacks on the place. The Harrises were devout members of the Methodist Episcopal Church and his obituary in 1896 stated that Alston had first joined the Methodist Church under the ministry of the Reverend Jeremiah Norman in Monroe County in the spring of 1827. The family for many years belonged to old Zoar M.E. Church in Henry County, and they maintained a tent at Shingleroof Methodist Campground north of McDonough. Alston Harris’s obituary in the Griffin newspapers stated that “His home was always the preacher’s home.” He was a trustee of the Zoar Academy which was established in connection with the church about 1857. Children: (1) Dr. Joseph Nelson Harris (5 Sep. 1828–28 Mar. 1900) Griffin pharmacist and merchant, m. in Spalding Co. 2 Sep. 1856, Mary Adaline Andrews (10 Oct. 1838 –26 Mar. 1921), dau. of Jacob Woodson and Mary (Thompson) Andrews of Orchard Hill Plantation southeast of Griffin. (2) James Alston Harris (22 Mar. 1830–6 Mar. 1836). (3) Seaborn Drury Harris (25 Apr. 1838–2 Jan. 1863) moved to Greenwood, Jackson Co., Fla. where his aunt and uncle, Charles N. and Eva (Gray) Hartsfield were living. He died in Confederate service, unmarried. (4) Matilda Ann Harris (4 Nov. 1843–2 Jun. 1931) m. 2 Nov. 1865, James Osgood Andrew Hightower (5 May 1845–7 Jul. 1922), son of James Calhoun and Maneriva Ann (Armstrong) Hightower, faithful members of Liberty Chapel M.E. Church, Fayette Co. James and Matilda (Harris) Hightower settled in Jonesboro, Ga. (See Hightower in this work.) (5) Elizabeth Williams Harris (8 Feb.1845–25 Feb. 1920) m. in Henry Co., 11 Oct.1866 John W. Rountree (8 Apr. 1846–14 Dec. 1916), son of James and Martha (Long) Rountree of Henry Co., and lived near Flippen in Henry Co. (6) Judge Absalom Guilford Harris (15 Mar.1847– 1 Mar. 1943) m. Monroe Co. Ga. 22 Sep. 1870, Helen Ophelia Burch (1 Aug. 1852–22 Aug. 1928), dau. of William Henry and Frances Aurelia (Rowe) Burch of Troup and Harris Cos., Ga. (See Burch in this work.) Judge Harris was many years Ordinary of Henry Co. and was the county’s last living Confederate veteran, having risen late in his life to the office of Commander of the Georgia Division, United Confederate Veterans. (7) Sarah Frances Harris (28 Oct. 1849–1 Jun. 1918), m. in Henry Co., 9 Nov. 1871 Manson D. Rountree (25 Aug. 1848–4 Oct. 1908) brother of John W. Rountree, and lived near Flippen, Henry Co. (The writer is a great-great-grandson of Alston Green and Ann Williams [Gray] Harris through their daughter Matilda Ann [Harris] Hightower).

4. Martha Gray (22 Aug. 1809-6 Nov. 1892) m. Monroe Co. 6 Dec. 1827 Simeon Clower (5 Mar. 1805-1835), son of Thomas Clower (1780-1855) of Monroe Co. and later of Ala. Simeon and Martha (Gray) Clower lived near present Hampton in Henry Co. After his death Martha Clower lived with her children in Coweta Co., Ga. Children: (1) Samuel T. Clower (1828-11 Nov. 1857) m. Coweta Co. 21 Jul. 1851 Drusilla Catherine Addy (24 Mar. 1834 - 5 Oct. 1861), dau of Jacob and Mary (Rall) Addy of Haralson, Coweta Co., where they were early members of Mt. Pilgrim Lutheran Church. Samuel T. Clower was a school teacher. His widow married second Jonathan P. Milner of Griffin and was one of his five wives who died in or soon after childbirth, all buried in a row in the J. P. Milner lot in Griffin Cemetery. (2) Joseph Gray Clower (1830-17 Sep. 1869) m. Spalding Co., 23 Mar. 1853, Ellen P. Turnipseed (5 Sep. 1832-13 Sep. 1908), dau. Of David and Frances (Dubard) Turnipseed of Spalding Co. Joseph and Ellen (Turnipseed) Clower lived west of Hampton, Henry Co., near Mt. Pleasant M.E. Church and left local descendants. (3) Mary Ann Bryant Clower (15 Dec. 1831-23 Mar. 1832). (4) Elizabeth Williams Clower (29 Jan. 1833-28 Apr. 1904) m. 16 Nov. 1854 David Selfridge (31 Mar. 1829-16 Mar. 1885) and lived in northern Henry Co., where they left many descendants. (5) Sarah Jane Clower (14 Jan. 1835-5 Jan. 1903) m. first 22 DEC. 1859 Simeon J. Bernhard (b. c.1830-d. CSA), son of Jacob and Esther (Lites) Bernhard, wealthy planter of Henry Co., who were members of Mt. Pilgrim Lutheran Church at Harolson, Coweta, Co. Sarah Jane (Clower) Bernhard married second 8 Aug. 1872 Dr. Benjamin F. Hodnett (11 FEB 1830-28 Nov. 1912), son of William Collier and Caroline (Finley) Hodnett of Troup Co., Ga., and lived in Senoia, Ga. Sarah’s mother Martha (Gray) Clower lived her last years in the Hodnett household.

5. Davis Gray (17 Jan. 1812-21 Apr. 1878) m. 1839 Media (Leslie) Jones (4 Oct. 1815-21 Apr. 1874), dau. of Thomas and Catherine (Thornton) Leslie of Wilkes Co., Ga. (The writer presumes that Media [Leslie] Jones was a relative of Laura Morton Leslie of Pike Co., Ga., who married Davis Gray’s nephew James T. Gray, given above.) Davis Gray lived in Monroe and Harris Cos., Ga., and in 1856 moved to Greenwood, Jackson Co., Fla. where his sister and brother-in-law, Charles N. and Eva (Gray) Hartsfield, were living. He served in the Confederate War in the Greenwood Home Guard of the Jackson Co. Militia and fought in the Battle of Marianna, Fla., 2 Oct. 1864. Children: (1) Mary Ann Gray (b. 1840). (2) Sara Catherine Gray (b.1842), d. in Tenn. (3) Elizabeth Williams Gray (b.1844). (4) William Varnum Gray (7 Jan. 1847-14 Aug. 1921) m. 20 Dec. 1876 Ella Willis Render (3 Feb. 1851-16 Jun. 1923), dau. of Robert Lewis and Elizabeth Harris (Anderson) Render of Wilkes and Meriwether Cos., Ga. W. V. Gray, after the Confederate War, moved back to Ga. in 1866 and settled in LaGrange, where he was a merchant and became one of the founders of the LaGrange Cotton Oil and Manufacturing Co., which in 1888 became the LaGrange Textile Mills. His home in LaGrange was the historic antebellum Frost-Gray house, one of the city’s fine Greek Revival structures. (See William H. Davidson, Pine Log and Greek Revival, Alexander City, Ala., Outlook Publishing Company, 1964, p. 101; and D. Gregory Jeane and Douglas Clare Purcell, eds., The Architectural Legacy of the Lower Chattahoochee Valley in Alabama and Georgia, University, Ala., the University of Alabama Press, 1978, pp. 78-81.) (5) Frances Leslie Gray (b.1849) m. Mr. Barclay and moved to Colorado. (6) Laura Gray (b.1851). (7) Alice Florence Gray (b. 1853) m. Mr. Turner and moved to Tenn. (8) Joseph Absolom Gray (b.1856) moved to Tenn. (9) Felix Davis Gray (b.1859). (10) Lula Jackson Gray (b.1862).

6. Eva Gray (b.1814) m. Charles N. Hartsfield and moved to Greenwood, Jackson Co., Fla. No info on children. A letter written by their nephew Seaborn D. Harris, dated at Camp Hunt near Jacksonville, Fla., 3 May 1862 to his brother Joseph N. Harris, Griffin, Ga., states: “I got letters from home [Jackson Co. Fla.] yesterday. Uncle C. [Charles Hartsfiled] had to trot from St. Andrews – the Yankees got too close after him. He is almost pegged out. I would like to see him again before he dies.” The reference to St. Andrews is evidently to St. Andrews Bay at Panama City, Fla. A later mention in the same letter of “Coz. Francina” and her unnamed baby suggests a Florida cousin who does not appear among the children of Seaborn Harris’s uncle Davis Gray above, but no family information in Georgia lists any children of the Hartsfields. (Florida Census records have not been examined.)

7. Elizabeth Gray (b.1816) m. 1838 Joseph G. W. Howard, son of Joseph and Eleanor (Shi) Howard and bro. of Eliza Howard who m. Elizabeth’s brother Joseph Gray, Jr. Joseph and Elizabeth (Gray) Howard moved to near Cartersville, Bartow Co., Ga. Children: (1) Joseph Howard. (2) Bud Howard.

8. Matilda Gray (1820-1900) m. Monroe Co., 6 Dec. 1838, Matthew P. Harris (1810-1903), brother of Alston Green Harris above. They lived in Meriwether Co., Ga., in 1850 and in Upson Co., Ga. by 1860 and until shortly after 1880, when they moved to Caddo, Stephens, Co., Tex., where their son Joseph L. Harris had settled. Matilda and Matthew Harris both died in Stephens Co., Tex. Children: (1) Ann Elizabeth Harris (b.1840) m. Upson Co. Ga., 26 Dec 1860, Robert Colquitt. (2) Davis W. Harris (b.1841). (3) James H. Harris (20 Jan. 1844-26 Apr. 1902) m. Upson Co., 23 Nov. 1879, Georgia Ann Burgess (b.1859). They made their home in Upson Co. (4) Joseph L. Harris (30 Dec 1845-24 Jun. 1943) m. Upson Co. Ga., 22 Dec. 1872, Caroline M. Pierce (1851-c.1890). Sometime between 1878 and 1880 Joseph and Caroline Harris left Upson Co. and moved to Caddo, Stephens Co., Tex. Other Harrises, including his parents, later joined them in this move. In old age Joseph L. Harris moved to Weatherford, Tex. to live with his daughter there. (5) Martha F. Harris (b.1848). (6) Mary J. Harris (b.1850). (7) Richard P. Harris (b. Nov. 1852) moved to Stephens Co., Tex. by 1880, and m. there 26 Sep. 1906, Annie E. Thomas (b. c.1877). (8) P. K. Harris (b. 1854), a dau. (9) Cordelia P. Harris (b. 1856) m. Stephens Co., Tex. 5 Jul. 1885 J. D. Childs. (10) Clara Harris (b. 1860) m. Upson Co. Ga., 7 Oct. 1874 Josiah S. Freeman. (Ref. Robert E. Harris, A Harris Family Journey, as cited above, pp. 838-848.)

9. Joseph Gray, Jr. (10 Dec. 1821-7 Dec. 1899) m. Monroe Co., 12 Dec. 1844 Elizabeth Amelia (Eliza) Howard (12 Aug. 1831-18 Mar. 1889), dau. of Joseph and Eleanor (Shi) Howard and sister of Joseph G. W. Howard who m. Elizabeth Gray above. Joseph and Eliza (Howard) Gray made their home at the old Joseph Gray. Sr., plantation near Bolingbroke, Monroe Co., where in 1860 there were fourteen blacks living on the place. Children: (1) Dr. Samuel Shi Howard Gray (10 Jan. 1846-31 Aug. 1885), served in the Confederate Army in Va. at age 16 and 1868 graduate of the Georgia Medical College, Augusta m. 1872 Lula Hollis (30 Oct. 1857-4 May 1942). He died in Barnesville, Ga. A grandson is family historian Shi Gray Holmes of Zebulon, Ga. (2) The Rev. John Davis Gray (11 May 1852-21 Feb. 1887), known as Davis Gray, m. Newton Co., Ga. 16 Dec. 1875 Sarah Cornelia Burge (11 Dec. 1855-8 Jun. 1892) dau. of Thomas Burge of Burge Plantation near Mansfield, Newton Co., and his second wife Dolly Sumner (Lunt) Lewis. (See James I. Robertson, ed., The Diary of Dolly Lunt Burge, Athens, U. of Ga. Press, 1962. See also Medora Field Perkerson, White Columns in Georgia, New York, Rinehart & Co., Incorporated, 1952, chapters 3 and 4.) The Rev. Davis Gray was a Methodist minister in the South Georgia and Florida Conferences and was the youngest Presiding Elder in his conference. Both he and Sarah (Burge) Gray died in Hawthorne, Fla., but are buried in Oxford, Newton Co., Ga. Descendants (members of the Usher, Bolton and Morehouse families) now live in Covington, Ga., and at Burge Plantation. (3) Dr. James Gray. (4) Florence Emma Gray, m. c.1888 Joseph James Singleton III (1 Dec. 1857-10 Oct 1927), a native of Dahlonega, Ga., graduated 1878 from Emory College, Oxford, Ga., and lived in Arcadia and Fort Mead, Fla. (5) Sarah Frances Gray (24 Jul. 1859-20 Feb. 1918) m. Monroe Co. 15 Dec. 1880 Dr. Thomas Baldwin Hollis (15 Dec. 1855-11 Mar. 1901). They were married at the Gray plantation near Bolingbroke, the ceremony performed by her bro. The Rev. Davis Gray, and made their home in Forsyth, Ga. Present descendants include the Hollises of Newnan, Coweta Co., Ga. (Mention of the historic Newnan house owned by the Edgar Baldwin Hollises is found in Perkerson, White Columns in Georgia, cited above, p. 314.)

Ambrose Williams Gray and Sarah Collier (Hodnett) Gray

Ambrose Williams Gray (5 May 1805-18 Sep. 1867), son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Williams) Gray, was born in Rutherford County, N.C. and moved with his parents to Wilkes Co., Ga. when he was a young boy, and subsequently to Monroe County, Ga. He married 13 Dec. 1832, probably in Meriwether Co., Ga., Sarah Collier Hodnett (11 May 1814-12 Feb. 1907), daughter of John Wyatt and Elizabeth (Tigner) Hodnett of Jasper and Meriwether Counties, and grand-daughter of Benjamin and Betsy (Collier) Hodnett of Virginia and Jasper Co., Ga. (See Mary Glover Thompson, “Benjamin Hodnett,” in Jasper County Historical Foundation, Inc., History of Jasper County, Georgia, 1984, pp. 206-207; and Ruth Hodnett Pendergrast, “Hodnett”, in Alice Copeland Kilgore, Edith Hanes Smith and Frances Partridge Tuck, eds., A History of Clayton County, Georgia, Roswell, Ga., W. H. Wolfe Associates, 1983, pp. 293-295.)

Ambrose and Sarah Gray first settled in Meriwether County, Ga., where they are found in the Census of 1840 and where members of both their families were then living. In 1849 they moved to Henry Co., Ga. where Ambrose Gray assembled a plantation of 400 acres (Henry Co. Deed Book M, p. 145, L. M. Cobb to A. W. Gray, 17 Sep. 1849; Book M. p. 264, William Kelley to A. W. Gray, 16 Nov. 1850; and Book M, p. 274, James B. Woodley and William Pierson to A. W. Gray, 12 Dec. 1850.) This land lay in Land Lots 254, 226 and 227 of the 6th District, and Land Lot 48 of the 3rd District, adjacent to Mt. Pleasant M. E. Church and Academy, the land for which had been deeded by Leroy M. Cobb. (See Henry Co. Deed Book M, p. 182, Leroy M. Cobb to William Ray and the neighbors of his vicinity for the building of an academy for the benefit of the neighborhood, one acre in Land Lot 48, 3rd Dist. of Henry Co, 17 Aug. 1849. This land is on Mt. Pleasant Road opposite the present Atlanta Motor Speedway and is now part of the Clayton County Airport, called Tara Field. Leroy Cobb subsequently moved to Fayette County.)

Mt. Pleasant Church was almost certainly an outgrowth of old Liberty Chapel which in 1849 gave up its original location east of Flint River in present Clayton County and moved several miles west to its site at the Liberty Chapel Cemetery just east of Inman. This Mt. Pleasant M.E. Church, located west of Hampton, Henry County, is not to be confused with the earlier Mt. Pleasant M. E. Church and Academy on present Noah’s Ark Road southeast of Jonesboro, Clayton County. The first Mt. Pleasant changed its named to Noah’s Ark Church in 1852, Mt. Pleasant Church west of Hampton was dismantled about 1970 and its site has been graded away for expansion of the present Clayton County Airport. (Its name notwithstanding, Clayton County Airport is in Henry County.) Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, whose oldest carved stone bears a death date in 1851, lies across the road from the site of the church and academy, adjacent to present lands of the Atlanta Motor Speedway, and is fenced and well preserved.



Return to Biographies Index

Return to Fayette County Home Page

Compilation Copyright 2008 - Present by Linda Blum-Barton