First Arkansas School for the Blind brick building built 1869,
Center, dedicated to Clonel GRAY,( see schools "History"), Bricks
cleaned and used in 1950 new Governors Mansion.
Copies furnished by: Butler Center for Arkansas Studies and Arkansas
THE ARKANSAS GAZETTE
LITTLE ROCK,SUNDAY: DECEMBER 10, 1905
COL O C GRAY HAS PASSED AWAY
Died at Arkansas School for the Blind, in This City.
Superintendent of School for Blind When
He Died, and Had Filled Other positions of Prominence.
Col O C Gray, superintendent of the Arkansas School for
the Blind, and one of the best known citizens of Arkansas died at the
blind school yesterday afternoon at 5:30 o'clock, after an illness
about six weeks, of cerebro-spinal meningitis. He had been in critical
condition for the past three weeks, and his death was unexpected. The
remains will be taken to Fayetteville for internment [Evergreen
Cemetery], subsequent to services in the First Presbyterian church,
city, this afternoon at 3 o'clock.
Record of a Busy Life.
Oliver Crosby Gray was born December 30, 1832, at
Jefferson, Me. He attended Colby College, Waterville, Me, and graduated
in 1855. He was a classmate of the late Nelson Dingley, who as a member
of Congress rose to the leadership of the Republican majority in the
House of Representatives. Last spring Col Gray attended the fiftieth
reunion of his class at Waterville. After leaving Colby Col Gray
attended Dartmouth College for a short time. He then went west and
located in Minneapolis, Minn. where in 1856-57 he was superintendent
the public schools. In 1858 he moved to Arkansas, and in that year
the year following was principal of Monticello Academy. [Records show
was Monticello, Minnesota, then in 1859 to Holly Springs, MS, and 1860
to Princeton, AR]. In 1860 and 1861 he was principal of Princeton
[Female] Academy, which was at that time one of the leading institutions
of the state.
At the beginning of the civil war he enlisted as a
private in the Third Arkansas Cavalry and served under Col Solon
Borland, and later under Col Hobson. He afterward rose to the captaincy
of Troop A of the same regiment, In the later part of 1864, as he was
returning to his home on furlough, he was captured and was imprisoned
New Orleans and at Ship Island[MS]. Later he was exchanged and returned
to his command and was made lieutenant colonel [highest rank attained
was captain] on staff of Gen Armstrong. [appointed Provost Marshall
1863].. All his service during the war was east of the Mississippi
river, and served under Gens N B Forrest, Joseph Wheeler, and Jos E
Johnston[and Gen Hood].
Prominent as an Educator.
After the war he returned to Arkansas and returned
teaching. In 1866 and 1867 he was principal of Princeton Female Academy,
and then came to St John's College, in this city, where he was professor
of mathematics from 1868 until 1871. [Ark School for the Blind erected
its first brick building in 1869, honoring Col Gray, removed in 1948
the Governors Mansion, with the old bricks reused]. He was later elected
president of St John's College and served in that capacity until 1875,
when he went to the university of Arkansas at Fayetteville and served
[first hair of civil engineering till 1879] professor of mathematics
from 1875 to
1886. In 1887- 88 he was [Mayor of Fayetteville, -- in 1885-86 was
principal of first school built, Washington School with Ella Carnall
able assistant]. He then returned to the chair of mathematics at the
state university, which position he held until 1895 [1906 GRAY HALL
built in is honor, removed in 1966]., when he was elected principal
Arkansas School for the Blind. From 1899 to 1901 he was principal of
Speers-Langford Institute at Searcy and in the last named year was
re-elected superintendent of the blind school, which position he held
until his death. His administrations in every instance were successful,
and he brought the state blind school forward until it now ranks with
the best institutions of its kind in this country.
Col Gray was twice married. His first wife was Miss
Virginia L Davis [first chair of university's art department,
1875-1881], whom he married May 27, 1858. She died August 17, 1886,
Fayetteville. He was married the second time to Mrs Mary N Beattie,
daughter of Solon Bourland (sic, Borland), on June 17, 1889, by whom
is survived. By first marriage, Col Gray had two [three] children [first
Clyde Leslie, 1859-1861, buried in Princeton with mother's father Capt
Geo Davis] both of whom are still living. The eldest is Carl R Gray,
of the most widely known railroad men in the United States [1920,
president Union Pacific RR, vice chairman in 1937, Trustee of Colby
College 1938 to death]. He is present vice president and general manager
of the Frisco system and lives in St Louis. He has been in Little Rock
many times recently in attendance at his father's bedside, and arrived
last Friday in response to a message announcing the seriousness of
father's condition. The second [third] child is Mrs Leroy [Ethel]
Kramer, whose husband is associated with Carl R Gray in the railroad
business [later president of world-wide GATX Corp]. Col Gray also has
two living brothers, John D Gray, Stockton Cal, and Thomas Gray of
Minneapolis. Mrs Gray has two daughters, Misses Grace and Mary and
son Godwin Beattie.
Col Gray was a member of Magnolia Lodge, F and AM's
Union Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, Hugh de Payens Commandery, Knights
Templar, and was one of the oldest members of the Scottish Rite bodies
of the Valley of Little Rock. He was also a lifelong member of the
Col Gray Was Widely Known.
The news of Col Gray's death will cause widespread
sorrow, as his long career in the schools and colleges gave him an
extensive acquaintance throughout the state. His numerous pupils, many
of whom are among the commonwealth's most prominent citizens, knew
but to love him, and it is doubtful if any educator in Arkansas ever
made for himself a firmer friendship among his students than Col Gray.
He was for a long time associated with St John's College, which was
located in Little Rock and was for many years the leading institution
learning and was later connected with the University of Arkansas at
Fayetteville, at which he passed about twenty years of his life.
With the exception of one term, he had been head of
the Arkansas School for the Blind for past ten years. He always spent
very active life and despite his seventy-three years he had the energy
of a much younger man. Col Gray was prominently connected with Arkansas
and its affairs for nearly half a century,and his death removes one
the state's most useful citizens. His nature was as gentle almost as
that of a woman.
Among the well known citizens of Little Rock who were
at St John's College are George B Rose, John M Rose, John W Blackwood,
B Worthen, S U Harrison, J E Williams, Thomas B Martin, L P Gibson,
Jennings, Frank Wittenberg, Henry Lesker, Julis Kemper, Horace G Daley
and John Piercher, while out of the city Dr W B Lawrence of Batesville,
Dr Eberic of Fort Smith, and D I Mills and M N Austin of Pine Bluff
among the number.
Burial in Fayetteville.
The funeral of Col Gray will take place this afternoon at 3
o'clock from the First Presbyterian church, and the services will be
conducted by Rev J Endenburn. The body will be taken to Fayetteville
a special train for internment [Lot 144, Evergeen Cemetery]. The funeral
will be under auspices of Hugh de Payens Commandery, Knights Templar,
and he will be buried with Knight Templar honors by the commandery
The pallbearers this afternoon will consist of Col
Gray's former pupils at St John's College and three of his former pupils
at the University of Arkansas. The music will be furnished by pupils
the Arkansas School for the Blind.
Mrs Mary N Beattie was Mary (Mollie) Melbourne Borland (1850AR-1938MO),
youngest daughter of Senator Solon Borland, M D. She moved to Memphis
1869 with sister Fanny Green (Borland) Moores, both very dear friends
Virginia Gray, O C's first wife, and married John M Beattie, of
Scotland, 22 Feb 1872. The 1878/9 yellow fever epidemic in Memphis
her husband, Fanny's husband then Fanny in 1879 along with some 5000
others, bankrupting the City of Memphis..
Mollie returned to Little Rock after 1880 census and was Matron at
Deaf School until marrying Oliver Gray. She served as Matorn at the
Blind school after 1895. She died in Kansas City, and her ashes were
buried with Oliver, 19 February 1938, only known record being the 18
1938 obituary in the Northwest Arkansas Times. No stone or engraved
notice is at the grave site. Go to Gray, Mary at:
http://www.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/ar/pulaski/pulaobit.htm (Mary, Jennie,