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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Byron Gray

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 799-800 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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The citizens of Fort Plain will long cherish the memory of the late Byron Gray, who had lived and worked in this village for more than thirty years when he was claimed by death in 1918. He was the founder and builder of the prosperous furniture business operated under the name of B. Gray & Sons and familiar to everyone in this section of the state. Byron Gray was the direct descendant of one Andrew Gray, who, with two brothers, went from Scotland to Ireland and thence, in 1735, or thereabouts, to this country, where he located in the colony of New York. Andrew Gray married a girl of Holland Dutch parentage, whose home was in the Catskill mountains and the couple took up their permanent home in Stone Arabia, town of Palatine, on what is still known as the old Gray homestead. Their four sons were: Andrew, Adam, John and Samuel. The oldest of the sons was a colonel in the Continental army during the Revolutionary war. It is told of him that he stood a witness to the death of Walter Butler, saying in his broken English, "I give you Sherry Falley quarter". Samuel, the fourth of the sons, was born January 23, 1751, and died May 19, 1823. On April 28, 1776, he was married to Catherine Suts and one of their sons, Andrew S. Gray, was born February 23, 1785, just after the close of the Revolution. He was married to Elizabeth Shults on November 13, 1808. Elizabeth's father, John Shults, and his brothers, Henry and William, a lad named Felder Wolf, and Joseph, a slave in the family, were captured by the Indians in July of 1781 and carried away to Canada, where they were retained for two years. The men were at work on the farm long known as the Stephen Shults farm, now the Sydney Gray farm, at the time they were captured. Andrew S. and Elizabeth (Shults) Gray had the following children: Nancy, Morris, Samuel, Lavangy and Sydney. Andrew seems to have been a prosperous farmer and a highly respected citizen, active in the public affairs of his community. In 1846-47 he represented his district at Albany as a member of the state legislature. His son, Samuel, was born June 1, 1815, and died March 27, 1895. On the 14th of June, 1838, he was united in marriage to Miss Nancy Nellis, who was born February 15, 1821, and died September 10, 1894, and they became the parents of five children: Almira, Andrew, Ann Elizabeth, Byron and Ida.

In the old family home (built before 1750 and still in excellent condition) that had sheltered generations of Grays, Byron Gray was born on the 29th day of September, 1850. He was married in 1874 and thirteen years later moved with his family from his boyhood home in Stone Arabia to Fort Plain, which was his home for the rest of his life. Here in 1894 he engaged in the furniture business, with which his name is still associated and was in active management of the same until his death on July 1, 1918. In 1914 he admitted into partnership his two sons, Howard B. and Harold G. Gray, the firm becoming B. Gray & Sons. The establishment of this firm is one of the most attractive of its kind in Montgomery county. The history of the business chronicles a steady expansion in trade, the result of the sound judgment and unfaltering enterprise of the founder, who devoted to it his best efforts for a period of twenty-four years. Realizing the need for service of this nature in Fort Plain, Mr. Gray added an undertaking department to his business which today represents the latest and most refined development of that line of activity.

On New Year's Day, 1874, Mr. Gray and Miss Alice Gamps were united in marriage. To them were born five children: Celia Mabel, now Mrs. C. C. Tanner, of Los Angeles; L. Carmita; Lillian; Howard B.; and Harold G. Gray. Death entered this family circle a second time on February 3, 1920, when the youngest son, Harold, passed away. Byron Gray's commercial interests placed him among the leading business men of this section and he is numbered among those men of his generation whose initiative and power were a factor in developing the economic life of the present day.

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