The following items are copied from newspaper clippings in an old, fragile scrapbook in the Christian County Library. The scrapbook belonged to Robert N. And Nora R. (Collier) Gray and also includes the announcement of their January 5, 1887 wedding. The clippings lack the name and date from the newspapers, but they are evidently from September 1895 and shortly thereafter. |
DANIEL GRAY’S FIRST CHRISTMAS IN MISSOURI
Camped on the James
A very long Ride on a Cold Day
Made a Meat House out of a Walnut Tree
Some time before his death, Daniel Gray wrote his son R. N. Gray of Ozark a long letter full of interesting incidents relating to the experiences of the pioneers of southwest Missouri. Daniel Gray came from Christian County, Kentucky, and his father was an intimate friend of the famous hunter, Daniel Boone. The two Kentucky pioneers spent many days and nights together hunting in the great game wilderness of Kentucky. They killed bears, wolves, panthers and wildcats often and heard the beasts of the forest howl and scream around their camp fire at night.
The letter written by the old gentleman tells of many thrilling adventures, but only a few relating to southwest Missouri will be quoted in this story.
The writer says: “In the fall of 1831, I moved to Missouri with Ragland Langston, the father of Joe Langston. We had a four-horse wagon made for the trip and both families put all our worldly possessions in this big moving conveyance and started for the west. We reached the end of our journey in December and stopped right where the Greene County Court House now stands. John P. Campbell, a wealthy gentleman from Tennessee, had settled that place and built a log house for his residence. Langston bought a place on the James, where a cabin had been built by a settler. Mr. Campbell had been in Cole County and had made the acquaintance of my brother, Robert. He told me where my brother lived, and I concluded to make him a visit before taking my claim. I got Mr. Campbell to board my wife and baby while I went to see my brother.
“While I was in Cole County, there fell an eight-inch snow, and it turned very cold. On my return home, I overtook a drove of pork hogs which were being driven to Springfield. I engaged 500 pounds of the pork for my year’s meat. I helped drive the hogs across the Osage River on the ice and camped that night with the men. We had breakfast the next morning before daylight, and I decided to see my wife and baby that night or freeze on the way, as there was no house between the Osage River and Springfield. I tore my saddle blanket in two and then made overshoes and leggings of one piece as I had no wraps of any kind. I started about daylight for Springfield. I got along very well without suffering much. Well, I landed safe and sound at Mr. Campbell’s about 9 o’clock in the night. Neither myself nor horse was much jaded. Mr. Campbell had gone to bed. His wife and mine were sitting by the fire. In those days, the whole family slept in the same room.
“Mr. Campbell raised up in bed and asked how far I had traveled that day. I told him where I had left the drove of hogs. He said: "It is impossible, sir!”
“Well,” I answered, ”I will prove it to you when the drovers come.”
“He replied that the distance was fully 85 or 90 miles - two good days’ ride in summer time.
“You have killed your horse,’ concluded Mr. Campbell, ‘I would not give you 10 cents for the chance of your mare.’
“I replied: ‘All right, Mr. Campbell. We will see.”
“The next morning, Mr. Campbell was up about daylight and went to the stable, he said, with the expectation of seeing my mare stretched out dead. Instead, when she saw him coming, she whinnied for something to eat. He came back to the house and asked me how much money would buy the mare. I told him she was not for sale. He said if $150 was any inducement, the money was mine. I told him I could not part with the mare.
“Well, in a few days, the snow melted, and I moved down on the James, one mile above where the Old Ozark bridge was afterwards built. Some one had cut down the largest walnut tree I ever saw. It had been a bee tree, cut for the honey. We got to this place late on Christmas Eve, 1831. The walnut log was high as my head. I cut poles and put one end on it and the other on forks and made a camp for the night. After covering over the poles, I made a very good shelter. It was cloudy, but not cold. After eating our supper, we made our bed on the ground and slept as sound as if we had been in the finest mansion. I had never had a better night’s sleep in my life. I was a little tired, you know.
“When we awoke in the morning to welcome Christmas and Sunday, for they came together that year, do you think you can imagine my feelings when I opened my eyes and beheld an eight inch snow on the ground?
“Then it was that I did my first day’s work in Missouri on Sunday and Christmas. I swept off the snow as well as I could, helped by wife get breakfast without grumbling. I fixed things as comfortably as I could for my wife and then took my ax and cut down a board tree about three feet through. With a froe which I had brought with me from Kentucky, I made boards enough that day to cover and weatherboard our camp. that night, we considered ourselves pretty well fixed.
“The next day, I cut a set of house logs and on the following day hauled them up. I meant to raise the house as soon as the snow melted.
“Well, by this time, my hogs had reached Springfield and been butchered. I got word to go to Mr. Campbell’s and get my meat. I went after the pork, took it home, cut down a big walnut tree, and dug a trough large enough to hold the 500 pound of pork. In this trough, I salted down the meat, where it lay in the woods until I raised my house. Then, I hung the meat up on top of the house. We lived in our camp some six weeks.
“When spring came round, I went to clearing in the James bottom. It was very brushy and the timber heavy. I cleared five acres of ground, grubbed all the underbrush and deadened the big timber, except for what I made into rails. I planted my corn about the last of May and plowed it only one time. I think it was the best corn I ever saw. It must have made from 75 to 100 bushels per acre.
Daniel Gray had 10 children, one of whom is Dr. T. J. Gray of Ebenezer, well known in this city.
ONE OF THE ORIGINAL GREENE COUNTY PIONEERS
He came to Springfield in the Days of the Red Man
Only Two of the Original Settlers Survive Him - A Sketch of His Career
The death of Mr. Gray leaves only Judge Price and Capt. Rountree of the survivors of those who assisted in removing the Indians from Greene County.
During the late war, Mr. Gray was a staunch Union man and has always been a Republican in his politics.
He was married twice, first to Elizabeth Gallion, a native of Pennsylvania. She died in 1848. There were six children born of this marriage. Mr. Gray went to California during the gold mining excitement and returning here, he married Elizabeth Crumpley, who still survives.
Of late years, Mr. Gray has made his home with his son in Jackson, Miss and was here on a visit to his son, Dr. Gray, at the time of his death.
Springfield, Mo. Aug 26 - Daniel G. Gray was among the original 13 settlers of Greene County in 1831, died yesterday, aged 89 years. He was a native of Kentucky and was among those who assisted in driving the Indians from Greene County in the early days. For two years, his home was with his son in Jackson, Miss, and he was here on a visit to his eldest son, Dr. R. M. Gray of Ebenezer, at the time of his death.
She seemed pretty well at 10 o’clock on the night she died. At half past 11, she called her daughter-in-law who immediately went to her bedside. She thought that her mother was in a dying condition, and at once called Mr. and Mrs. Callander. They came immediately, and Mr. C. came down to Mr. Gray’s shop to tell him that his mother was dying. He went home as quickly as he could, but she was dead when he arrived.
Funeral services, conducted by Rev. H. Beauchamp, were held at 3:30 o’clock this afternoon at the Baptist Church and the remains carried to her home - Ozark, Mo. for burial.
The community deeply sympathizes with Mr. Gray in the loss of his mother, and the sympathy is augmented by the fact that his father died only a few days ago.
Handwritten in this clipping is the date: Sept 1st, 1895.