Biography of Garrison G. Gray

To the prominent and esteemed citizen of Malheur County whose name appears above we grant a representation in the history of the County, since he is today one of the leading men domiciled here, has always labored for the up building of the County, is a man of integrity and uprightness, and receives the commendation of his fellows. Mr. Gray’s grandfather, John Gray, was said to be the last living soldier from the Revolution. He was a drummer boy at Bunker Hill and saw his father fall, then seized his sire’s musket and fought until the struggle closed. He worked for General Washington after the war. He died near Hiramsburg, Noble County, Ohio, in March, 1868, lacking only two months of being one hundred and five years of age. His stepdaughter, Mrs. Nancy Thomas, is now living at the age of ninety years on the farm adjoining that old homestead.

Our subject was born, in Noble County, Ohio, February 23, 1830, being the son of Isaac and Elizabeth (Gorby) Gray. When five years of age he was taken with his parents to Athens County, and the following year, 1836, his mother died. In 1839 he went with his father to Jones County, Iowa, thence to Linn County and then to Cedar County, in which last place, at the age of eleven, he attended his first term of school. The next year they removed to Muscatine County and one year thereafter he tied his earthly possessions in a red handkerchief, clad in simple clothes and with a straw hat which he had braided himself, started forth into the wide world to seek his fortune. His first day’s travel led him to Muscatine and the next stop was Bloomington, and there he visited his sister, who was working at the house of Judge Williams, a brother of Judge George Williams, of Portland. Thence he went to his brother, in Jones County, and there attended school. The next spring he carried the mail from Dubuque to Iowa City on horseback, then went to Rock Island, Illinois, and broke prairie sod with oxen. He kept zealously at work with his books and at the age of twenty had a certificate and was back in his native place in Ohio teaching school. In the spring of 1851 he went with a company to Fort Leavenworth, and then paid fifty dollars for the privilege of driving an ox team across the plains to Huntington. Thence our subject, who was a carpenter, John Weston, a clerk, George Cowne, a printer, and Isaac Hamilton, a farmer, each provided with twenty-five pounds of hardtack, made their way a foot tithe Dalles in ten days, arriving on August 13, 1851, the very day that the first steamboat made its way to that town, under the direction of Captain Wells. He went to Portland on the Captain’s row boat, and in that town refused a job with pay at three dollars per day and town lots at twenty-five dollars each in the heart of Portland as pay. He went to Astoria, saw Major Halleck, Generals Grant and McClellan, then went to Salmon and the winter of 1852-3 attended the university at Salem, known as the Willamette University. He taught school in Oregon and California and followed carpentering in the summer until 186o, when his industry and frugality had gained him a nice little holding of property. In 1863 we find him in the Idaho mines and at Fort Boise he was in charge of the carpenter work of the post and was there when the town was laid out. He kept a stage station seventeen miles below Boise and sold five thou-sand dollars worth of vegetables from his ranch, and in 1867 he went to Albany, and having made a snug little fortune, he retired. In 1871 he desired more activity and took a large bunch of cattle for the Idaho mines and stopped and took a homestead at lower Willow creek, where he now lives, having a good farm of four hundred and eighty acres, an elegant two-story and one-half ten-room dwelling, with pure spring water piped into it, a finely improved estate, and a large holding of stock. He has also plenty of water for irrigating, one hundred swarms of bees, a five-acre or-chard of choice varieties and is a leading and prosperous citizen. His estate is located three miles southwest from Dell, of which he was the first postmaster, continuing for fifteen years. He received his commission in this office from General Grant.

Mr. Gray and Miss Sarah A. Moore, a native of Ohio, were married on February 1, 1855, and six children have been born to them: Martha A., deceased; Ida I., wife of B. L. Jones, of Vale; Elizabeth E., wife of B. Emmons, of Eugene; Mary B., wife of Dr. O. M. Dodson, of Baker City; David L., deceased; Rosetta, wife of H. C. Bowers, of Baker City. On January 20, 1885, Mrs. Gray was called away by death. On September 6, 1886, Mr. Gray married Miss Sarah I. Wales, of Rood-house, Greene County, Illinois, and they have three children, Ethel, Elmer Roe and Edith. On June T7, 1899, this lady died. Mr. Gray and both of his wives were members of the M. E. church. He is affiliated with the Masons. In the early times Mr. Gray had difficulties, as had all the settlers, with the Indians and many are the hardships which he and his were called upon to endure. In 1897 Mr. Gray went to his old home in the east and had a joyous time in renewing old acquaintances.



Whitman, Marcus. An Illustrated history of Baker, Grant, Malheur and Harney Counties: with a brief outline of the early history of the state of Oregon. Chicago: Western Historical Publishing Co., 1902, 871 pgs.

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