He to whom this sketch is dedicated is a member of one of the oldest and
most honored pioneer families of Marion county, Illinois, and he has
personally lived up to the full tension of the primitive days when was here
initiated the march of civilization, so that there is particular interest
attached to his career, while he stands today as one of the representative
citizens of Tonti township, for his life has been one of hard work which has
resulted in the development of a good farm which he owns and which yields
him a comfortable living.
John H. Gray was born in this county January 14, 1839, and believing that he could succeed as well here as anywhere decided to stay in his native community where he would have the added advantage of home associations. He is the son of James and Mariah E. (Nichols) Gray. Both the Gray and Nichols families were born in Tennessee, being of that hardy pioneer stock that invades new and unbroken countries and clears the wilderness, developing farms from the virgin land. It was for such purpose that they came to Illinois. The parents of the subject came to Marion county in their youth and were married here, having first settled in this locality during the Black Hawk war. James D. Gray, our subject's father, moved to Tonti township in 1851. He was a man of many sterling qualities, a good neighbor and citizen, and, as already intimated, was industrious and a hard worker. He was also a minister of the Methodist church for many years. His family consisted of nine children, three boys and one girl living at this writing, 1908, all fairly well situated in reference to this world's affairs.
John H. Gray, our subject, received a limited schooling in his native community. However, he applied himself well and did the best he could under the circumstances. He remained at home, working on his father's place until he reached maturity. He was united in marriage in 1860 to Susan Ballance, a member of a well known family. After a brief married life she passed to her rest in 1864. This union resulted in the birth of one child, which died in infancy. In 1866 the subject was again married, his second wife being Rebecca A. Boring, who is still living, having proven to be a most faithful and worthy helpmeet and a woman of gentle disposition. She was born in 1848 and attended the district schools in her maidenhood.
Four children have been born to the subject and wife, three girls and one boy, whose names follow: Susan E., Mattie E., Etta and William A. They have received what schooling that is available in their community and are all interesting children with every prospect for future success.
Mr. Gray in his political affiliations is a loyal Democrat and has taken considerable interest in local political affairs, his support always being on the right side of all questions affecting the public good. He has ably served as Highway Commissioner, giving entire satisfaction in this work, and he is known to all as a man of industry, honesty and integrity, thereby winning and retaining a large circle of friends.
Extracted 07 Jul 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 303-304.