(revised, 09-21-06,WSB) updated 07-05-08

GRAY (1832ME-1905AR) 

GRAY (1834ME-1886AR) 

Few, if any, couples teaching school in historic Arkansas lived more
exemplary christian lives. GRAYs consistently contributed; to educating
its future leaders, to better communities, to Arkansas, thusly to our
nation. That describes pioneering couple, Colonel Oliver Crosby and
Virginia LaFayette (Davis) GRAY, whose ancestry is to the Mayflower and
Revolutionary War. Like cream with time, they rose to the top. His deeds
recognized by contemporaries thusly honored --- later, cast aside for
twentieth and twenty-first century "political leaders". 

The GRAYs, as did many of their pioneering contemporaries, sought no
glory or praise for their instinctive warm love towards mankind.
Example; Virginia didn't sign her art or writings, such as her 1877
painting of "Old Main", or book "Cremona" thusly are anonymously enjoyed
today. They sought no fame or rewards. They simply let their christian
hearts light the way! 

George B Rose (1860-1942), Little Rock's eminent counselor-at-law and
literature eloquently summarizes his former teacher's life in 850+
words, spoken at his funeral ending with, to wit; 

"And Col Gray was not merely a great
teacher; he was a model in every relation of life. Strong as was the
feeling of kindness in his bosom, his sense of justice was equally
strong. A man could not have been a better husband and father than he, a
kinder neighbor, a truer friend. As a citizen he was patriotic, taking
an active and intelligent interest in public affairs, and his voice was
always on the side of justice, decency and truth. After a long,
laborious and most useful life, a life full of kind and gentle deeds and
animated by a noble ambition to benefit his fellow and especially the
youth of the land, he has passed to his reward, and many are they who
arise and call him blest." 

-Written of them after death, to wit: 
>From one obituary; ---- "The funeral was attended by hundreds of
leading citizens of Little Rock, evidencing the high esteem in which the
deceased was held." 

"Immediately after the services at the church the remains were taken to
the Choctaw depot, and carried on a special train to Fayetteville, were
the funeral was held this morning under the auspices of the Knights

>From one "Editorial" ---- " ... he was a brave solider and able
educator, a good citizen and a christian gentlemen. As a public officer
he won the confidence and esteem of the people and was never criticised
for a derelict of duty. He lived indeed an exemplary life and passed to
his final reward honored and loved by everyone. The great deeds of his
life will live for generations and the principles he has installed into
the hearts of the young men who have come within the scope of his
influence will never perish. The world is the better for his having
lived in it and thousands are stronger and worthier of life for having
met and associated with him." 
(The Arkansas Democrat, 11 Dec 1905) 

and Virginia's obituary, to wit: 

"... She was a most estimable lady,
a loving Christian wife and mother. No lady had more friends in
Fayetteville than Mrs Gray. She was a pleasant and accomplished
companion, a generous friend ...." 
http://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/me/knox/obits/graydavi3ob.txt (The
Fayetteville Democrat, 20 Aug1886) 

Inscribed on her tombstone; 

        "None knew her but to love
       None named her but to praise" 


File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by:
Bill Boggess william-boggess@webtv.net February 19, 2006, 10:16 am

The Fayetteville Democrat

    The Fayetteville Democrat 

Fri., August 20, 1886, page 3, col 4. 

"Mrs Virgie Gray, the esteemed and fond wife of Col. O C Gray, was buried Wednesday
Mrs Gray has been long time a sufferer, having been confined to her room for weeks,
but has at last, crossed over the cold river of death. 
She was a most estimable lady, a loving Christian wife and mother. No lady had more
friends in Fayetteville than Mrs Gray, She was a pleasant and accompished companion,
a generous friend, and while the community grieves her loss and extends condolences
to the bereaved family, no one will miss her like Col Gray." 

also same paper, to wit: 
"As a demonstration of sorrow and respect for the burial of Mrs Gray on Wednesday
the business houses very fitly closed their doors. An act which was right." 

Copy courtesy of Arkansas Hstory Commission

Additional Comments:

Virginia was born 19 June 1834 to Captain George Davis and Catherine Young at Davis
Point, Cushing, Lincoln (now Knox) County Maine, married Oliver Crosby Gray 28 May
1858, Cushing, Lincoln (now Knox) county, Maine, lived in Minneapolis, MN, Holly
Springs, MS, Princeton, AR, Little Rock, AR dieng at Fayetteville, AR.Three 
children, Clyde Leslie 1859-1861, Carl Raymond (1867-1939) & Ethel Davis (1871-1910).

Buried with husband, daughter and granddaughter in Lot 144,
Fayetteville's Evergreen Cemetery;  

Mrs V L Gray, 1st chair of Drawing and painting, 1874-81, Arkansas Industrial

Life story: 



File at: http://files.usgwarchives.org/me/knox/obits/graydavi3ob.txt

This file has been created by a form at http://www.poppet.org/mefiles/

Historians have the GRAYs early life wrong! Following is correct,
partially from Virginia's (Jennie) letters to her brother, sea Captain
Byron Davis, later his widow Nellie and daughter Kate. 


Oliver; born to Doctor Peter Tufts Gray (1787-1838) and wife (Lot Weeks' widow) 
Elizabeth (Kennedy) (1802-1867), in Lincoln county, Maine, 30 December 1832, 
with three Weeks' children, and two brothers born later. 

Virginia; fourth born to Sea Captain George Davis (1798-1870) and Catherine Young 
(1804-1849), Davis Point, Cushing, Lincoln county, Maine, 19 June 1834, second of 
four attaining adulthood.

Oliver graduated 1855 from Colby College, Waterville, Maine (classmate's 
photographs in her "Scriptural Album", MC 1618), --- Virginia attended New Hampton 
while brothers circumnavigated the world with their father aboard "Hampton", 1849-
1851. Virginia & step-sister watched 37 y/o, Alexander II, Emperor of Russia (1855-
1881) and family, pass directly below their hotel window 27 June 1857 while in 
Hamberg, Gemany with father, while sailing aboard bark "Diana".

Oliver was reportedly Superintendent of Schools after family moved sixteen hundred 
miles west to Hennepin county, Minnesota Territory in 1855. He's later documented 
as Superintendent of Monticello Academy in frontier Wright county, Minnesota, also 

"Our Pioneer Days In Minnesota", by Gertrude Braat Vandergon,1949,
Chapter IV, "Fall, Winter, Then Spring"; 

page 44: 
"Monticello, just twelve miles from Silver Creek, was a thriving little town, but 
had no grist mill. However, it had a ferry across the Mississippi." 

page 46: 
"In 1857 a ferry was established by John Gellow, later owned by Mr. C. Jones. That 
same year a small school house [Monticello Academy] was errected and E.W. Merrill 
taught the youth of the village. Later O.C. Gray was the instructor. 
[see Monticello Times newspaper article of 3 March 1858,"An Agreeable Surprise"] 

"The first white child born in Monticello was Fred Anderson, who was born in the 
fall of 1855. 

"The first marriage was performed about 1856, A.S. Descent and Miranda Chandler, 
also F.M. Cadwell and Elizabeth McCrory. 

"The first hotel was opened in 1857 and called the Cataract House. Mr. Cross was 
the manager." 

Virginia married Oliver Friday, 28 May 1858 in Cushing, Lincoln county, Maine, 
returning to Wright county, now as of 11th of May, state of Minnesota, describing 
life and town in three letters & that he had some fifty scholars. School year 
1859-1860, she wrote in three letters of disliking Marshall county, Mississippi,
boarding on a plantation with seventeen slaves before adopting Arkansas, fall of 

"Jennie" and Oliver birthed three children. Clyde Leslie, died in 1861, Carl 
Raymond, married December 1886 to Hattie A Flora ("first white child born 
Montgomery county, Kansas"), became vice-chairman of Union Pacific Railroad 
Systems also a Trustee of Colby College, Ethel Davis, married June 1900 to LeRoy 
Kramer, he became president of GATX Corporation. 

-Schools taught in Arkansas: 

PRINCETON FEMALE ACADEMY (1855- ????), Dallas county, 1860-1867
(less war years); 

Oliver was in charge and Virginia taught art. Among students were Solon
Borland's daughters, poetess Fanny & Mollie. 

Oliver, July 29, 1861 enlisted with Colonel Solon Borland, M D, Esquire, in 
what later became, Company A, "Princeton Light Horses", 3rd Arkansas Calvary 
Regiment, Confederate States Army, fighting more skirmishes than any other 
Arkansas unit! Promoted to Captain, October 1862, appointed Battalion Provost 
Marshall, December 1863, allowed to resign to join Navy August 1864; 
captured November 1864, exchanged March 1865, home April 1865. 

Virginia Davis GRAY's 1863-1865 diary was published in The Arkansas Historical 
Quarterly, Volume XLII, Numbers I & II. Diary given by her g,g,granddaughter, 
to Special Collections, University of Arkansas summer 2005, MC1618, including 
"Scriptural Album", with some of her art, and 1867-1872, 242 page diary of son 
Carl Raymond, "The Diverting History of Little Tarley Gray", plus --- Arkansas 
History Commission files hold 845 fragile pages, in three bound volumes, of her
1872-1874 writings --- of Arkansas' reconstruction, and The Brooks-Baxter War 
years. begging to be transcribed. 

Four letters from Princeton, first, telling of her stage coach trip with a 
sick son, getting lost over night from Neopoleon, Arkansas. Her published 
diary, 1863-1865, reveals much of life she and others lived during those 
trying years of the civil war while loved ones were off fighting. Princeton 
was a cross-roads thus many Union and Confederate troops camped near, such 
she captured in her diary, they entertaining the men, many a notable General 
"broke bread" with them. 

ST JOHNS' COLLEGE (1850-1879), Pulaski county, 1867-1874;

Oliver re-opens following war years, teaching mathematics, last three
years its president. 

History of Arkansas School for the Blind,
http://www.arkansasschoolfortheblind.org its first brick building, built
1869 on Senator William Savin FULTON's (1795-1844) homestead "Rosewood",
--- it says was dedicated to "Colonel GRAY". School moved about 1938 and
buildings removed in1948 with 300,000 bricks cleaned by prisoners, used
in Governors Mansion, 1949/50. Oliver was a Mason and professor at
Masonic St Johns' College nine blocks east, 1867-1874. 

Oliver initiated a Law School at St Johns' College
in1873. Enlisting professors: U M Rose, 
, A H Garland, H C Caldwell, and E H English. Former students attending
his funeral; George B Rose, John M Rose, John W Blackwood, J E Williams,
W B Worthen, S U Harrison, Thomas B Martin, L P Gibson, Henry Lasker,
Julius Kemper, Horace G Dale, John Fletcher. 

"The Brooks-Baxter War" began April 15, 1874 when Governor Elisha Baxter 
(1827-1899) was ousted from office by Joseph Brooks, "Major GRAY" armed 
his students, protecting Gov Baxter while he refuged at St Johns' College.
Virginia's thirteen letters from Little Rock and diary on son Carl are 
most revealing of life during reconstruction years in Little Rock, 
1867-1874. Diary reveals her November over-night stage coach trip with 
baby Carl and Major Harold Borland, arriving in Little Rock. Oliver 
working late, so they broke in the door to escape the cold evening air. 
Letters; of Judge Freeman W Compton taking over their first house when 
they built near St Johns', another that poetess Fanny Borland was married 
in their home April 1869 and Virginia helped with Kate Compton's June 
1871 wedding, she daughter of Dr Franklin M Compton older brother of the 

ARKANSAS INDUSTRIAL UNIVERSITY (1871- ), Washington county,1874-1895, 
(1899, becoming University of Arkansas); "The classes have been as follows: 
1875 numbered 8; 1876 numbered 9; 1877, same; 1878, 5; 1879, 8; 1880, 10; 
1881, 6; 1882, 15; 1883, 7; 1884, 10; 1885, 6, and 1886, 5." 

Oliver, 8 July 1874 was retained as AIU's 1st Chair, 'Civil Engineering', 
1874-1879, additionally, appointed Professor of Mathematics (his true 
love), heading up R O T C , with other duties, 1874-1885 --- Chairman 
of Mathematics, with other duties, 1888-1895. 

Virginia became AIU's 1st Chair, 'Drawing and painting',1874-1881. (Art
Department). http://www.couchgenweb.com/arkansas/benton/benhist3.htm
(search; Mrs. V. L. Gray) 

"Old Main" opened September 1875 with Virginia assigned 2nd floor Clock 
Tower according to her October 1875 letter, with classes of fifty & 
forty each. "Vergie" (as known in Fayetteville) presented her painting 
of new building & grounds to 1877 Board of Trustees (page 91 of minutes), 
given Governor Miller (first Arkansas born governor) to hang in his 
office, --- now missing. 

9 June 1885, University relieved ALL professors of their "chairs"! Oliver, 
an Elder of his church, a Mason and a member of Fayetteville School Board, 
became superintendent at Fayetteville's first school building, Washington, 
http://nwanews.com/nwat/Academics/37048/print/ assisted by Anna Putman, 
among AIU's first students in 1872, Ella Carnall, (1861-1894),
Class of 1877, and four others. Buildings' construction was a high
priority of his and neighbor, Judge/Colonel LaFayette Gregg (1825-1891)
http://www.couchgenweb.com/arkansas/benton/benhist3.htm (search: O. C.
GRAY & L. Gregg, president). Gray became Fayetteville's Mayor April 1886
till October 1887, 
July 1888, the university asked Oliver and only two other "fired"
professors to return to the University, Oliver became Chairman of
Mathematics Department, with other duties until May 1895 when selected
Superintendent of Arkansas School for the Blind, Pulaski county. 

Virginia's twelve letters from Fayetteville concerned their life. One 
of earlier living on third floor of hotel with AIU's teacher Mary Gorton 
and her sister, Belle L Gorton, Class of 1876, giving up part of their 
homestead for Frisco RR, of a deadly tornado in 1881, abrupt firing of 
president Hill at 1884's commencement, she turning down offer when young 
teachers asked her to chaporone them to New Orleans Cotton Expostion 
January 1885, and learning December 1885 from Dr W B Welch of having 

Virginia died, 17 August 1886, age 52, of cancer. Respectfully, the 
Fayetteville business houses closed their doors during her funeral! 

Oliver married friend of Virginia and his, widow Mary (Mollie) Melbourne 
(Borland) Beattie (1850-1938), 17 June 1889, youngest child of Senator 
Solon Borland, M D, Esquire (1811-1864), with two daughters and a son, 
he, one daughter at home, son Carl in Kansas, married with a son Carl 
Jr, who became General Carl R GRAY, Jr, Administrator of Veterans 
Affairs for President Harry S Turman (their third son, Doctor Howard 
Kramer GRAY of Mayo Clinic successfully operated on Jimmie Roosevelt 
in 1938). 

Pulaski county, 1895-1905: http://www.arkansasschoolfortheblind.org 

Oliver was Superintendent (except 1899-1901, while president,
Speers-Langford Military Institute, White county) with wife Mary as
Matron, a position she held at the Arkansas Deaf-Mute Institute for

Oliver died 9 December 1905, funeral held at First Presbyterian 
church, Fifth & Scott, attended by hundreds. 

His body was removed to Fayetteville for burial with masonic & 
confederate honors. 

University of Arkansas commemorated Colonel Oliver Crosby GRAY's 
memory with GRAY HALL in 1906, --- removed 1966 for Mullins Library. 

Oliver, Virginia, Mary, daughter Ethel Kramer, granddaughter Virginia 
Kramer are resting in Masonic Evergreen cemetery's Lot 144, 
Fayetteville, Washington county, Arkansas.
http://www.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/ar/cemph/washingtonph.htm Son Clyde
Leslie with maternal grandfather, Captain George Davis in Princeton
cemetery, Princeton, Dallas county, Arkansas,
http://www.couchgenweb.com/arkansas/dallas/princet.htm with Carl in
Druid Ridge cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland,

-For additional information: 

"History of the University of Arkansas", by Reynolds & Thomas, 1940 

"University of Arkansas, 1871-1048", by Hale, 1948 

"Pioneer Makers of Arkansas", by Shin, 1908 

1874,1877, and 1888 Minutes of Arkansas Industrial University's Trustee
Board Meetings 

"Alumni Directory 1876-1937" of The University of Arkansas 

"How We Lived: Little Rock An American City", by Roy & Witsell,1984 

"History of Minneapolis & Hennepin county", page 752, by Atwater &
Stevens, 1895 

"Northwest Arkansas History", by Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1889; 
"Fayetteville", page 248 & "Washington County", page 945 

"Colby College Centennial Catalogue Edition, 1820-1920", pages 64 & 65 

"A Half Century on Minneapolis", by Hudson, page 457, 1908 

"History of Minneapolis and Hennepin County, Minnesota", page 479, by
Holocums & Bingham, 1855 

"Phillips Neighborhood History" Page, St Anthony & Minneapolis
directory; Gray, Prof O C, Principal of Gray's Academy, by Minnesota
Historical Society 

Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, (F602 61-C-2) Volume
XIV, page 274, by Upham & Dunlap, 1912 

"Our Pioneer Days In Minnesota", by Vandergon,1949, Chapter IV, 'Fall,
Winter, Then Spring', pages 44 - 47. 

"An Agreeable Surprise", March 3, 1858, Monticello [MN] Times 

"The War Child's Children", by Collier, 1965 

Confederate Military Records of Captain O C GRAY, Arkansas History

"St Johns' College", Pulaski County Historical Review: Volume 36, Number
2, by Aaron B Pierce, 1988 

-Special Collections, University of Arkansas: 

"John D Henry Letters", MC49, letter #5 (Col O C, NOT Doctor O C, there
was a young fellow mason, Dr C S Gray) 

"Campus Photographs, University of Arkansas, 1907-1911, MC 1157, Gray

"Notes on Art Department Faculty and History", MC1377, by Tom Turpin,

"Virginia LaFayette (Davis) GRAY's papers", MC1618, 


The Fayetteville Democrat, Aug 20, 1886,

The Arkansas Democrat, Dec 11, 1905, 

The Fayetteville Democrat, December 14, 1905,

The Memphis News Scimitar, December 11, 1905,

The Arkansas Gazette, Dec 10, 1905, 

The Springdale News, April 23,1910; 

Northwest Arkansas Times, Feb 18, 1938,

The New York Times, May 10, 1939 

The Fayetteville Daily, Jan 6th & 29th, 1906, Masonic tributes, 1906

"Jennie's Letters", some 40 letters written by Virginia (Jennie) L
(Davis) GRAY, Hamburg, Germany, 1857 to Fayetteville 1886, unpublished,
transcribed by g,g,g,niece Barbara J Holt, Davis Archives, Dover, NH. 

"The Diary of Virginia Davis GRAY, 1863-1865.Part I & II", The Arkansas
Historical Quarterly, edited by Dr Carl H Moneyhon, UALR, 1983,
furnished by her g,granddaughter, Eleanor Gray Knutson. (Original

"The Diverting History of Little Tarley GRAY", 1867-1872 diary by
Virginia L GRAY, unpublished, transcribed by Robert C Knutson, M D,
(Original, MC1618, UA)
"OUR NEIGHBORS --- THE GRAYS", Washington County [AR] Historical
Society's, FLASHBACK, May 1958, by Hattie E Williams (a childhood

"School days, School days, .. the history of education in Wahington
County, 1830-1950", compiled by members of the Washington County Retired
Teachers Association, 1986 

"Dismantling of GRAY HALL Under Way at UA", Northwest Arkansas Times,
April 14, 1966, page 15 

"Far Back Campus Memory: GRAY HALL, Commemorating a Great Man",
Washington County [AR] Historical Society's, FLASHBACK, Feb 1968, by
Deane C Carter, former University employee.

"GRAY HALL", 1906-1966, by Don E Schaefer, University of Arkansas
Publication Manager, emeritus 

"Of A Place Called St Georges", by Bradley Beckett, 1989 

"Reminiscences of a Voyage around the World", by Raymond C Davis, 1869
(Virginia's brother was Libraian at University of Michigan, 1877-1906) 

"The GRAYs From Maine", unpublished by Boggess, 2004, filed at Butler
Center. http://www.rootsweb.com/~arwashin/pics/grays.html 

"The Story of Two ARKANSAS Pioneer School Teachers", unpublished by
Boggess, 2006, filed at Butler Center.