Lake County Ohio GenWeb
The anniversary article was reprinted in "LakeLines" April 1992 p 16-17, the newsletter of the Lake County Genealogical Society. It and the obituary were transcribed here by Casi Dosky, teen volunteer. Local Brevities was transcribed by Sally Malone and all three items submitted by her.
David Gray, the oldest citizen of our county, was born in Pelham, Hampshire county, Massachusetts, on October 20th, 1780, while the young Republic was struggling for the priceless boon of liberty. Twenty-five years later he removed to Madison, New York, where he lived till 1818. Thence across the country through the trackless wilderness to Chardon, Ohio, where he lived for forty-nine years, or until 1867, whence he removed to Mentor, where he has since lived.
Although an hundred years with their changes and vicissitudes, with all their joys and all their sorrows, have little by little added their weight and burdens to the shoulders of this honored old centenarian, the hundreds of friends who clasped his hand on Wednesday last, found him still hale and hearty, and still able to move among his friends and neighbors. Wednesday, his one hundredth birthday, dawned bright and clear, and but little after sunrise the old man's friends began to assemble, and soon the house was densely packed, and at one time during the day fully 600 people are believed to have been present. Four of his sons, Eli, seventy years of age; Martin, sixty-eight; George, sixty-six, and David, sixty-three, were present. Twenty-two grand-children, thirty-eight great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild were among the guests.
Early in the forenoon the Chardon brass band appeared in front of the house, and Mr. Gray went out and acknowledged their courtesy.
Among the forenoon visitors was Mr. Gray's townsman and friend, Gen. Garfield. The General spent a few moments in quiet conversation with the old man, and he arose and made a few beautiful and touching remarks congratulating him upon the years, though fraught with care yet blessed with pleasure and success, which he had passed. The aged man's eyes were filled with tears as the General concluded, and "May your days be days of pleasantness, and all your paths of peace," was the benediction which the statesman carried back with him to his home. About noon a bountiful repast was served in the front yard, which all enjoyed, but especially so the old man, who took great delight in the conversation with his friends. The old man first voted in the exciting election when Thomas Jefferson was re-elected President, and he takes great interest in the election this fall, and expresses great delight in the fact that his last ballot will be cast for General Garfield. "I have seen many good Presidents, but none who will serve my country better then Mr. Garfield. He is a great man and I feel glad when I think that my last ballot will be cast for him."
Martin Gray, the son with whom he lives, spoke at considerable length of the virtue and life of his father, with great feeling. He spoke of his temperance, his truthfulness and integrity, the happiness of his married life, his sound judgment, and pre-eminent Christianity.
Mr. Horace Benton, of Cleveland, said: "We meet today to commemorate the centennial of your relative and neighbor, Mr. David Gray. It is the lot of only one person in many thousand to live to the age of 100 years. Few of us realize how different was the world of 1780 from the world of today. Let us in imagination turn the wheel of time backward to that day and take our stand on October 20th, 1780. We are in the home of David Gray's parents, in Pelham, about ten miles east of the Connecticut river, in the State of Massachusetts. State did I say - no there was no such State. It was a colony of Great Britain's, subject to King George III, who then occupied the throne. Lord North is his Prime Minister, the American colonies are in rebellion.
"Now, in October, 1780, George Washington is 48 years old. Samuel Adams, the father of American Independence, in 58 years old.
"The British army is in possession of New York under General Sir Henry Clinton. Lord Cornwallis is in the South overrunning the Carolinas.
"Washington's army is but a small band of 3,000 men. There is no money. A dark cloud rests on the country.
"Such was the land at the time this man began life. When he was three years old the revolutionary war ended. When young David was seven years old the Constitution of the United States was formed. When he was nine years old Washington was inaugurated President April 30th, in New York City. When he was nineteen years old Washington died.
"For nearly seventy years this man has been a consistent follower of Christ. He can now say, 'The time of my departure is at hand. For me to depart and be with Christ is far better.' His parents have already crossed over to the other side. His brothers and sisters have all crossed over. His wife, some of his children, part of his grandchildren, and several of his great-grandchildren have preceded him. He will not have to wait long before he will join the great company of his friends, who are awaiting his coming. Though he has lived 100 years, yet, as he looks back, his life seems very short to him; it has gone so swiftly.
"Friends, let us who are here today congratulate him who has come down to us from a former generation, and emulate his virtue."
The gathering broke up at sunset, all expressing themselves as having passed a very enjoyable day.
The death of old father Gray, of Mentor, is chronicled by our Mentor correspondent. He was the oldest person in Northern Ohio, having been born October 20, 1780.
David Gray died at Mentor, Ohio, May 29, 1885, aged 104 years, 7 months and nine days. He was born in Pelham, Hampshire county, Mass., Oct. 20, 1780, the year of Benedict Arnold's treason and in the month of Major Andre's execution. At the age of twenty-five he moved to Madison N.Y. and after a residence of thirteen years, to Chardon, O., arriving July 1, 1818. He came to Mentor Centre, April 30, 1867, and removed to South Mentor, July 30 1874, where he lived until his decease. He was the father of ten children only four of whom survive him. The oldest now living, Mr. Ely Gray, of Mayfield, Ohio, being 75 years of age. His grand-children number more than twenty, his great-grand children about forty and great-great grand children at least one. He cast his first vote on the day Thomas Jefferson was re-elected President of the United States and his last for his fellow-townsman, James A. Garfield, riding to the polls in Gen. Garfield's carriage in company with several other of the oldest men in Mentor.
He was a member of the M. E. Church for more than seventy years and was one of the ten who organized the M. E. Church Society at Chardon. His oldest acquaintances speak of him as always having been a devout Christian and all who knew him bear testimony to the unblemished integrity of his character. He passed away calmly and peacefully, the principal cause of his death doubtless being the natural infirmities of old age. The funeral services were held Monday, June 1st, at 1 P.M., being conducted by his pastor, assisted by Rev. L. W. Ely, of Painesville, O. His remains were interred in the cemetery at Chardon Center by the side of the grave of his wife who died in 1861, aged 78.
J. M. KECK
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