Thomas Gray, Jr. & Elizabeth Craig in Armstrong County, PA Circa 1834

The following is Chapter 1 of The Gray Clan featuring Thomas Gray, Jr. and his wife Elizabeth Craig. The book does not indicate who the narrator of this long ago scene was. Was it a child, cousin or sibling of Thomas and Elizabeth?

Based on the ages of the children described and the passing of Mary James Gray, I would guess this scene took place circa 1833-1834. I have yet to verify any of the facts presented in this chapter. Once I reach Thomas Jr. on my research list I will update this post.

thomas gray 1799

Thomas Gray, Jr. at about age 30.

Thomas Gray, Jr., and his good wife ‘Lizabet’ Craig Gray, sat at ease enjoying their sunset meal. Three-year-old Thomas Henry, perched on a homemade stool, between his father and his mother, tiny year old Johnny Addison, already asleep in his ‘trundle-bed crib’ the two elderly spinster sisters of ‘Lizabet’ completed the family circle. They are speaking of the past year, with its happenings.

“I wish we could persuade Peterson, James’ son to come and settle near us. He is such a stalwart lad, and I fear he is not content in the old home, since his brother Thomas went away East, to Blairsville, to settle. Even his beloved horses do not seem to arouse him from his lonely unhappy state. He told me, when he came here to bring the tidings of our mother, Mary James Gray‘s death, in 1830, that he seriously considered leaving the old home in Forward Twp., Butler County, to locate elsewhere. He feels that there is no future there for him. Masonry and Carpentry seem to be overworked, the Journeyman’s Cabinet and Carpenter Shop of his father James Gray, on Conoquenessing Creek, near Murderingtown, holds little interest, and, as for farming. Well. The ground seems to have become worthless. ‘If there was just some way to enrich those large fields.”

‘Lizabet’ sighs. “It don’t seem possible that mother has been gone these four years, and our bonny wee Maggie and Elizabet lying on the hill out there, nearly the same time.” Will the day ever come when we can find summat to fight the dread Croup?”

And, she walks unsteadily over to the crib of the sleeping John. Johnny-ah-Addison-ah, as she calls him, she hada–shall we call it–a button hook ending to most of her words. She covers the child and walks to the door, looking out to the opposite hill-side, where the new Cemetery has been laid out, on the North side of their farm.

It is very evident that she soon expects another little one in the family circle.

“Tammas! Will ye be comin here? Who can yonder herseman be? He seems strange. He rids ever so wearily.” Thomas comes to her side and looks intently out over the fields, to the Trail, near the good spring, a few hundred feet from the forks of the road, which ran on to another settlement, through Shouptown, then on to Duncanville and the Trading Post at Kellersburg.

Thomas watched the approaching traveller. “He rides like me Faither! -later- He look like me Faither!” Then with a joyous shout, “It IS me Faither.” He starts running to meet him, gathers him in his strong arms, the tears running unchecked down his cheeks.

Questions, answers, news, all so mixed up that it seems impossible to find a coherent thought or action. But there was never a question of the warmth of welcome or happiness in the presence of the beloved old father, Thomas Gray. Who had come to them for a last haven.

After the wayfarer was made comfortable and at home, and the ‘beastie’ rubbed down and bedded for the night, the story developed, being told and retold, as with the ‘tongue-of-age’ until it become well known, not only to those living there but to all the generations following. We shall give it as completely as our family notes, traditions and records furnish basis for the truth of the same.

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Recorded in the Kittanning, Armstrong County, PA court records we find:

Land Transfer; Tract 313. Warrant 2869. 130 A. P. 35 to Thomas Gray, Jr. from the Holland Land Company. (Willink, Agt.) in Madison Twp. – 19 June 1833. Also the Armstrong County History records p. 283 “Madison Twp. land given for Gray Cemetery.”

Map of the Thomas Gray Place – Connoquenessing Twp., Butler Co., PA

The front page of The Gray Clan is a hand drawn “Map of the Thos. Gray Place.” This page in our copy of the book has taken a beating as the cover began to deteriorate and eventually fell off. To begin with, some of the text was faint and difficult to read. I’ve scanned the map and placed a few numbers and words next to their originals in clearer type. I’ve also recreated the key, “Map of the Old Places.”

You can view the .jpg of the map below or download a copy. I’ve also created a Map of the Thomas Gray Place Google Map displaying these locations with my best guess as to their very general locations. Eventually, I hope to compare original land records and early maps with current maps to pinpoint more precise locations. For now, this gives us a general idea of where these places would have been.

map of the thomas gray place butler county, pa