Alexander Gray (1856-1940) – His Obituary

Here is a transcription of the obituary for Alexander Gray, date and newspaper unknown. (His mother’s name was Judah Arena, not Irene.)


Our community was saddened to hear of the passing of Alex Gray at his home in Craig, Tuesday, December 31, 1940 at 4pm.
He had a long lingering illness but bore his suffering with patience and fortitude. All that loving hands and hearts and medical skill could do was of no avail.

Alexander Gray was born June 24, 1856, near Gower in Buchanan County, Mo. and attained the age of 84 years, 6 months, and 7 days.

His parents, Franklin and Irene Gray, were pioneers in Buchanan County. Mr. Gray was the fourth child in a family of four boys and one girl. When he was eight years old his parents died, and he and his brother, Simian, were taken into the home of a maternal uncle, Dr. Simian Parrish, then a pioneer physician of Holt County living at his farm home three miles north of Craig.

These little boys were loved and nurtured by their foster parents and given all the advantages they could give their own children.
Mr. Gray grew to manhood in this home, and engaged in farming.

He was married to Rose A. Browning July 18, 1877. His companion passed away Nov. 30, 1938. They established their home on a farm five miles north of Craig and continued to reside in this community until 1912, when they retired from the farm and moved to Craig.

To this union were born four children. Edgar of Craig, Mrs. Allen Bowersox of Reserve, Kans., Miss Erma of the home, and a daughter, Orpha, who died in infancy.

Other survivors are nine grandchildren, fifteen great grandchildren, and one great great grandchild, and a number of nieces and nephews.

Mr. Gray and his wife were charter members of Sharp’s Grove Baptist Church. He was ever loyal and true to his faith and to his church, having held office in the capacity of deacon for more than 35 years. By thrift and industry he had accumulated considerable property in houses and lands. He was also a stockholder in the Bank of Craig.

He was a man of high moral character, sterling qualities and steadfast principles. Ever mindful of the right.
He was devoted to his home and his family, loved and respected by his friends and neighbors. With his passing the family loses a devoted father and grandfather and the community an upright citizen.

Funeral services were conducted in the M. E. Church Friday afternoon at 2:00 o’clock by a former pastor of the Sharp’s Grove Church, Rev. G. A. Puckett of Kingston, Mo., who read an impressive and beautiful discourse of which the theme was “The Christian’s Life, the Faith, and the Final Reward – Eternal Life.” The speaker paid a beautiful tribute to the exemplary daily life of the deceased as he trod the milestones along life’s highway with his fellowmen.

A choir composed of Rev. and Mrs. Earl A. Ogle, Mrs. Fred Walkup and Mr. Horn sang the hymns, “Whispering Hope,” “Sunrise Tomorrow,” and “Shall We Gather at the River,” with Miss Lena Lawrence at the piano. The floral offerings, gifts of friends and relatives, were profuse and beautiful.

The body-bearers were grandsons of the deceased: Dean, Carl, Don, Ralph and Harold Gray and W. H. Cooper.

The great granddaughters bore the flowers: Wilma and Dorothy Griffin, Beatrice Cooper and Clarissa Gray.

The remains were laid tenderly to rest in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery , there to await the Master’s call.

The pains of death have ceased,
Labor and sorrow cease.
And life’s long warfare closed at last.
His soul is found in peace.
Soldier of Christ well done.
Praise be the new employ,
And while eternal ages run,
Rest in the Savior’s joy.

Relatives and friends from a distance were:
Mr. Lon Gray and wife, Mr. Norman Gray and wife, Mr. Ben Moore and wife, Mr. Wyman Gray and wife, Mr. Roy Gray, Bryan Weakley and wife all of Gower.

Charles Williams and wife, Carl Gray and wife, Dean Gray and family, W. H. Cooper and family, Miss Minnie Gray, Mrs. Earl Wing, Jewell Gibson and wife, all of St. Joseph.

Fred Krull and wife, Easton, and O. C. Gray of Omaha, Nebr.

A. E. Bowersox and wife, Misses Anna and Martha Stewart and Mrs. S. B. Stewart of Reserve, Kans.; Mrs. Dan Chaney of Falls City, Neb., George Jones and wife of Horton, Kans., H. H. Browning, S. F. Williams and wife, and Glenn Davis and wife all of Fairfax.

J. L. Browning and wife, M. Browning, Ed Browning, and Mrs. Asa Hollenbeck all of Mound City.

We wish to thank our many friends, relatives and neighbors for the sympathy and helpfulness shown in the death of our father, also for the flowers; to the choir for the rendition of the beautiful music and for the use of cars.
F. E. Gray and family, Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Bowersox, and Miss Erma Gray

Franklin William Gray (1821-1864) & Judah Arena Parrish (1823-1864)

Updated October 2020.

Franklin & Judah are Todd’s great great great grandparents.

Franklin Judah GrayFranklin William Gray was born May 25, 1821 in North Carolina. His mother was Catherine Gatsey Wadworth and his father is unknown. I wrote about her here.

Judah Arena Parrish was born January 29, 1823 in North Carolina. Her parents were Ansel Parrish and Winifred Cashett.

I haven’t found marriage records, but it is thought that Franklin and Judah married in North Carolina before moving to Missouri. Some report the date of 30 Oct 1846 in Randolph County. Franklin’s brother Robert Wadsworth Holmes married Judah’s sister Sarah Ann Parrish, and it is thought they too married just before leaving North Carolina.

Son William was born in 1848 in Missouri. Son Benjamin was born in 1850.

On the 1850 US Census, Franklin was 29 and Judah was 25. They lived in Buchanan County, Missouri. Son William was 2 and son Benjamin was a newborn. Also living in the house was Franklin’s mother, Catherine Wadsworth, age 27, and Jesse Hill, age 22, born in North Carolina. Franklin and Jesse were farming. In the next household was Franklin’s brother William Wadsworth and his family. Two households after that was Franklin’s brother Robert Holmes and his family.

Son Simeon was born in 1852 and son Alexander was born in 1856.

On the 1860 US Census, Franklin was 38 and Judah was 36. William was 12, Benjamin was 10, Simeon was 8, Alexander was 4. Also living in the home were Martha Wiese, age 17, and William Cooley, age 45, a traveling merchant from York State.

Daughter Sarah Elizabeth was born in 1861 and daughter Mary Jane was born in 1862 and died in 1863.

Franklin died on April 28, 1864 in Buchanan County, Missouri. His Find A Grave memorial is here. Judah died on August 19, 1864 in Buchanan County, Missouri. Her Find A Grave memorial is here.

The children of Franklin William Gray & Judah Arena Parrish:

William Linsey Gray – William was born January 5, 1848 in Buchanan County, Missouri. He was 16 when his parents died, and I don’t know where he spent the next 5 years. He married Mary Ryherd on February 18, 1869 in Buchanan County, Missouri. They had 7 children. He died March 15, 1938 in Buchanan County, Missouri. His Find A Grave memorial is here.

Benjamin Franklin Gray – Benjamin was born on January 15, 1850. He was 14 when his parents died, and I don’t know where he spent the next 10 years. He married Mary Elizabeth Lowrie on September 24, 1874 in Buchanan County, Missouri. They had 7 children. He died on September 15, 1929 in Buchanan County, Missouri. His Find A Grave memorial is here.

Simeon H. Gray – Simeon was born June 29, 1852 in Buchanan County, Missouri. His parents died when he was almost 12, and he was raised, along with his brother Alexander, by his mother’s brother, Dr. Simeon Parrish, in Holt County, Missouri. He married Margaret Ann Synder in 1885. They had 7 children. Simeon worked as a merchant. He died March 14, 1931 in Buchanan County. His Find A Grave memorial is here.

Alexander Gray – Alex is Todd’s great great grandfather. You can read more about him here. Also, I’ve posted many postcards that were sent to him and his family. Find them here.

Sarah Elizabeth Gray – Sarah was born January 20, 1861 in Buchanan County, Missouri. She was 3 years old when her parents died, and was raised by her father’s brother Robert Wadsworth Holmes and his wife Sarah Ann Parrish Holmes, who was her mother’s sister. They farmed in Buchanan County, Missouri. Sarah married Robert Carson on January 26, 1856 in Buchanan County, but he died of consumption on November 6, 1883. They had no children. Sarah married George Robinson Hines on March 27, 1889, and they had 3 children. Two died as infants. They farmed in Buchanan County, Missouri. She died on March 22, 1931 in Buchanan County, Missouri. Her Find A Grave memorial is here.

Mary Jane Gray – According to family records, Mary was born in November of 1862 and died in April of 1863, in Buchanan County, Missouri.

Alexander Gray (1856-1940) & Rose Althea Browning (1854-1938)

Updated October 2020.

Alex & Rose are Todd’s great great grandparents, the parents of his great grandfather Franklin Edgar Gray.

GRAY Alexander BROWNING Rose Althea PortraitAlexander Gray was born on June 24, 1856 in Buchanan County, Missouri. His parents were Franklin William Gray & Judah Arena Parrish. I wrote about them here. He was the 4th of their 6 children.

Rose Althea Browning was born on August 25, 1854 in Holt County, Missouri. Her parents are Elias William Browning and Anna Elizabeth Galloway. I wrote about them here. She was the 2nd oldest of their 15 children.

On the 1860 US Census, Alex was 4 and lived with parents Franklin, age 38 and Judah, age 36, farmers in Buchanan County, Missouri. Other siblings in the home were William age 12, Benjamin, age 10, and Simeon age 8. Others in the house were Martha Wiese, age 17, and William Cooley, age 45, a traveling merchant from York State.

Rose was 5 and lived with parents Elias, age 28 and Elizabeth, age 25, farmers in Holt County, Missouri. Other siblings in the house were John Francis, 7, Louisa Jane 4, William Allison 3 and Isabella, age 3 months.

Both of Alex’s parents died in 1864. On the 1870 US Census, Alex was 13 and lived with his uncle Simeon Parrish and family. His brother Simeon, age 17, also lived with them. His sister Sarah, age 10, lived with her uncle Robert Wadsworth Holmes. I haven’t found brothers William Linsey Gray and Benjamin Franklin Gray in 1870 but they were 22 and 20 by then.

On the 1870 US Census, Rose was 16, her father William was 39, and her mother Elizabeth was 36. John Francis was 17, Louisa Jane was 14, William Allison was 12, Isabella was 10, Florence Letta was 8 and Emma was 1. They were in Holt County and Elias’ occupation was “labour.” It had been a rough year for the family. Two sons, James M., born in 1864, and Robert Lee, born in 1866, died within 5 days of each other in May of 1870, and daughter Kitty (Robert’s twin, born in 1866) died that year too, sometime prior to August when the family was enumerated on the census.

Rose married Alex on July 18, 1877 in Sharps Grove, Holt County, Missouri. She did this against her father’s wishes, because he didn’t care for Alexander Gray.

Their son Franklin Edgar was born in 1878.

On the 1880 US Census, Alex, age 24, and Rose, age 26, were farming in Atchison County, Missouri, right next to Alex’s brother Simeon. Son Franklin Edgar was 2.

Daughter Lula was born in 1881, and daughter Bernice Erma was born in 1889.

On the 1900 US Census, Alex was 43 and Rose was 45. They had been married for 23 years, and Rose had given birth to 4 children, 3 living. Daughter Lula was 19, and daughter Erma was 10. Son Edgar, age 21 and a newlywed, was in the next house over, with wife Maude. They were all farming in Holt County, Missouri. Daughter Orpha Evelyn was born and died in 1894.

GRAY Alexander Family Portrait

(Photo: A portrait of the Gray family in front of the home Alex had just built in Craig, Missouri in 1894. Left to right: Rowdy the horse, Franklin Edgar Gray, Erma, Alex, Lula, Rose holding Orpha who died shortly after the photo was taken.)

On the 1910 US Census, Alex was 54 and Rose was 55. Daughters Lula, age 28, and Erma, age 21, lived at home. Alex was farming and Erma was a teacher at a rural school.

On the 1920 US Census, Alex was 63 and Rose was 64. Daughters Lula, age 38, and Erma, age 30, lived at home. Lula was a saleslady at a drug store and Erma was a telephone operator.

(Photo: Alex & Rose celebrating an anniversary.)

On the 1930 US Census, Alex was 73 and Rose was 75. Daughters Lula, age 48, and Erma, age 40, lived at home. None were employed.

Rose died November 30, 1938 in Craig, Missouri. Her Find A Grave memorial is here.

The family was enumerated on the 1940 US Census on April 20, 1940. Alex was 83 and daughter Erma was 51. Neither was employed. Alex died on December 31, 1940 in Craig, Missouri. His Find A Grave memorial is here.

The children of Alexander Gray & Rose Althea Browning:

Franklin Edgar Gray – Franklin is Todd’s great grandfather. You can read more about him here.

Lula Gray – Lula was born on May 4, 1881 in Craig, Missouri. She married Allen Elisha Bowersox on February 18, 1933 when she was 51 years old. She died February 1, 1973 in Fairfax, Missouri. Her Find A Grave memorial is here.

Bernice Erma Gray – Bernice was born on October 25, 1888. She died on January 21, 1981 in Craig, Missouri. Her Find A Grave memorial is here.

Orpha Evelyn Gray – Orpha was born on February 17, 1894 and died on November 12, 1894. Her Find A Grave memorial is here.

Under the Postcard & Letters category, you’ll find many postcards written to this family by friends and relatives, and some they wrote to each other.

Catherine Gatsy Wadsworth (1781-1852) – The Gray Family’s Brick Wall

Oh how I would love to have a chat with Catherine Wadsworth. During the 1840s, she moved from Davidson County, North Carolina to Buchanan County, Missouri with her three adult sons: William Wadsworth (1817-1859), Franklin William Gray (1821-1864), and Robert Wadsworth Holmes (1825-1901). I say that so casually, “moved.” It was a 1000+ mile trip in a covered wagon. That is about a 70 day trip. What prompted that adventure?

I don’t know if Catherine was ever married, so Wadsworth may be her maiden or married name.

I don’t know who fathered her children either, but there’s a good possibility the father of Robert is Reuben Holmes (1763-1831, Davidson and Rowan Counties, North Carolina.) Reuben was married and had 7 children, but his wife died in 1798. His 1830 will divided his property among his children and grandchildren, but also left one slave each to two males, Robert Wadsworth and Reubin Northern (noted in the will “alias Reubin Holmes”.) The will read “Robert Wadsworth (son of Gatsy Wadsworth) one negro boy [youth] named Peter.” Witnessing the will is Gatsy Wadsworth, and a 1831 codicil to the will is witnessed by Catherine Wadsworth. In the will Reuben specifically refers to people as “my children” or “my son” or “my daughter” but he doesn’t note his relationship to Robert Wadsworth (age 5), or Reubin Northern.

One reason it’s so hard to find information about Catherine is that prior to 1850, the United States Census provided names of only the head of household, with tally marks in the appropriate gender/age columns for others living in the house. It’s possible that Catherine lived with Reuben Holmes in 1830 because there is a tally mark in the column for females in her age group, plus 4 young children, 3 of which could be hers. I have no clue as to where she could have lived prior to that, or after Reuben’s death in 1831.

Back to the move . . . It seems William likely made the move first, with Catherine following a couple of years later with Franklin and Robert. William married in Buchanan County in September 1843, and US General Land Office Records show he received land there in 1846 and 1850. Before leaving North Carolina, the younger brothers married sisters on October 30, 1846. I suspect they didn’t leave immediately, heading into the winter, traveling by covered wagon for 70 days. Hopefully they waited until spring.

Franklin’s bride Judah Arena Parrish and Robert’s bride Sarah Ann Parrish had brothers Simeon Parrish and Benjamin Parrish who relocated to Buchanan County around the same time, so perhaps they traveled together. We know that by June of 1848, she was received as a member of New Harmony Church (near where Gower is today) as minutes report “received Sister Gatsy Wadsworth by letter.”

Luckily we have the 1850 United States Census for Tremont Township, Buchanan County Missouri. Catherine is 67, living with Franklin Gray (age 29, farmer), his wife Jane (26, and her name was really Judah), their children William (2) and Benjamin (10 months), and someone named Jesse Hill (22 year old male born in NC.) In the next house on the census we find William Wadsworth (33, farmer) married to Elizabeth (29), and their children Sarah (6), James (5), Mary (4) and John (2). Then we skip a house and the next house has Robert Holmes (25), his wife Sarah (28), and their children Reuben (3) and Ansel (1). Catherine, her sons and their wives were all born in North Carolina, and all of her grandchildren were born in Missouri.

Church records show that Catherine died in 1852, and she was buried in the church cemetery. Her son William died by 1859 and is buried there too. (His wife remarried and is buried in the cemetery with her 2nd husband.)

There are no known photos of Catherine, but here is a picture of Franklin and Judah Gray. We will talk more about them later.

Franklin Judah Gray

Thanks to Linda Holmes Mason for information from New Harmony Church records and Reuben Holmes’ will, and Lanny Gray for the photo.