An enumeration of the enterprising men of Marion county, Illinois, who
have won recognition and success for themselves and at the same time have
conferred honor upon the community would be incomplete were there failure to
make mention of the popular gentleman whose name initiates this review. He
holds worthy prestige in business circles, and has always been distinctively
a man of affairs and wields a wide influence among those with whom his lot
has been cast, having won definite success and shown what a man with lofty
principles, honesty of purpose and determination can win while yet young in
years. In both banking and agricultural circles Mr. Gray stands in the front
rank of the men who honor these callings in this county and because of his
industry, integrity and courtesy he is a man to whom the future holds much
of promise and reward.
William Harvey Gray was born in Marion county, Illinois, in 1876, the son of James Robert and Nancy Illinois Gray (nee Boothe). James Harvey Gray, grandfather of our subject, was born in Maury county, Tennessee, and was brought to this county by his parents when four years of age. His father, James Gray, was the son of William Gray, the great-great-grandfather of our subject. William Gray was born in North Carolina and moved to Maury county, Tennessee. He married a young lady by the name of McNabb in the year of 1 776. Five sons were born to them, James, Joseph, William, John and Samuel. William Gray was a soldier in the American Revolution and was also in the Indian wars of Kentucky and Tennessee. He was a farmer by occupation. He had one brother by the name of James Gray. William Gray died when about the age of eighty-three.
James Gray, great-grandfather of our subject, was born in Maury county, Tennessee, June 20, 1789. He married Martha Denton in the year 1808 and moved to Marion county, Illinois, in 1828, and settled the old homestead on section 10, being one of the first settlers of the county. They had four sons, Joseph, William Harrison, James Harvey and Isaac Denton. James Gray was called into the United States' service by the Governor's proclamation dated April 19, 1832. He enlisted as second lieutenant of Spy Battalion, First Brigade of the Illinois Mounted Volunteers. He had one horse shot from under him and was on furlough August n, 1832, and honorably discharged August i6th, having served under Capt. William N. Dobbins. He also served in the Creek and Indian war and the Black Hawk war. He was a powerful man physically, having measured six feet two inches and weighing two hundred ten pounds. He was the first Justice of the Peace in Kinmundy township, which office he held until his death. He also sowed the first timothy seed in this township in 1843. He and his brother Joseph furnished to the settlers the first sawed lumber, which they sawed with a whipsaw. He also taught school in a cabin in the neighborhood. The early preachers of the Baptist and Cumberland Presbyterian denominations held meeting in his home. He died suddenly by an accident on October 3, 1835, leaving a widow and family of eight children.
His widow, Martha Gray, entered eighty acres of land February 13, 1837, where they started their improvements. It was the west half of the southeast quarter of section 10, Kinmundy township. The following fall she entered forty acres more in the same section. She was born in April, 1786, and departed this life May 27, 1844.
James Harvey Gray, the grandfather of our subject, was born in Maury county, Tennessee, April 25, 1825, and as stated above came to this county when four years old. He began life's struggle at the age of ten by first making a crop for his mother. Full of ambition, grit and energy he was successful from the start, though so young. At the age of eighteen, it may be said, he commenced life for himself, purchasing a yoke of cattle and a horse on credit. He remained, however, on the old place putting in crops until ready to invest in a piece of land, which he did at the age of twenty-six by making a purchase of one hundred and sixty acres, partly paying therefor with money borrowed. From that time his career was onward. He rapidly accumulated property by his just and upright dealings, adding acre to acre until he could look over twelve hundred acres of land, all of which was in one body, and call it his own. He also had other valuable property. He was a man of powerful mental ability and men would go to him for advice and he was always glad to aid his fellowman. Mr. Gray at the age of nineteen years and seven months was married November 28, 1844, to Susanna Jane Hanna, who was born October 18, 1824, and departed this life December 24, 1862. To this union five children were born. A second marriage was contracted with Margaret Lucinda Hanna in 1863. This lady, to whom three children were born, died in 1871. In the year of 1872 Mr. Gray united in marriage with Mrs. Elizabeth Boothe, widow of Col. James W. Boothe, who commanded the Fortieth Illinois Infantry during the Civil war. Before this he was first lieutenant in the Mexican war and was at the battle of Vera Cruz and Cerro Gordo. Mr. Gray did not enjoy the advantages of an education, being too early deprived of a father and compelled, being the eldest son at home, to care for the family. He was a natural mathematician and could calculate mentally the amount of anything almost instantly. He was six feet tall, stood erect and was well formed. His temperament was bilious, nervous and sanguine. He was fitted for the execution and power to endure both mental and physical labor. Mr. Gray was one of the original stockholders of the Farmers' and Merchants' Bank of Kinmundy, which was organized in January, 1870, soon afterwards became president, which position he held during his life. It was known as a co-partnership or private bank. The stock was held by himself, his widow and T. W. Raymond, cashier, at the time of his death. Mr. Raymond died shortly after Mr. Gray. The bank was closed by Mrs. Gray, the only surviving stockholder, through the subject of our sketch. Mr. Gray was a man that enjoyed his home life and visitors were sure of receiving a warm welcome at his fireside. He belonged to Kinmundy Lodge No. 398, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, also a member of Rosedale Lodge No. 354, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. In his religious views he was a Cumberland Presbyterian. In politics, he was a Democrat of the old Jeffersonian school. He lived on the old homestead seventy-two years, outliving all of his children. He died at the age of seventy-six years and six months on October 25, 1901.
Mrs. Elizabeth Gray, widow of James H. Gray and grandmother of our subject, was born May 13, 1827, in Indiana, later came to Illinois in February, 1858, locating in Kinmundy. Daniel Clark, the father of Mrs. Gray and a blacksmith by trade, lived to be over seventy years old. Her mother lived to be about ninety-six years of age. Mrs. Gray was first married to James W. Boothe May 1, 1851. To this union five children were born. Mr. Boothe was born October 9, 1820, and died February 17, 1863. Mrs. Gray married James H. Gray in 1872. At this writing Mrs. Gray is hale and hearty and her mind is clear, quick and active. Since 1901 she has made two trips to the Pacific coast and is now past the eighty-first mile-stone in her journey through life. As time passes swiftly she pieces quilts and makes fancy pillows so as not to have any idle moments in her life. In her religious views she is a Cumberland Presbyterian and is a member of that church.
James Robert Gray, father of our subject, was born July 2, 1854, on the old homestead. He married Nancy Illinois. Boothe August 19, 1875. Two sons were born to them, William Harvey, our subject, and James Lemon, who died when about six months old. James R. Gray departed this life September 8, 1880, after a useful and active career filled with good deeds.
William Harvey Gray was born April 12, 1876, as indicated in a preceding paragraph. He attended the district school near the old homestead, later attending the public school in Kinmundy, and from there to St. Louis, where he completed a thorough course in banking and general business in the Bryant and Stratton Business College. After graduating from this institution he went to Raymond, Illinois, and engaged in the general mercantile business for two years, when he sold out on account of his grandfather's death and the death of Mr. Haymond, returning to Kinmundy to settle up the business of the Farmers' and Merchants' Bank, of which, at that time as stated before, Mrs. Elizabeth Gray was the sole surviving partner. He settled up the affairs of that institution, paying the depositors in full in less than sixty days from the time the bank was closed on December 4, 1901. He then was a main factor in organizing The Haymond State Bank, becoming cashier of the same and holding that position until its consolidation with the First National Bank on August 15, 1906. During this time he assisted in the settling up of his grandfather's large estate. After the consolidation of the banks our subject resigned, taking the active management of his real estate properties which were extensive. He now owns two hundred and eighty acres of the old homestead property which has never left the control of the Gray family from the time the grandfather bought it. In all he owns one thousand acres of improved land, mostly prairie. He rents this out, reserving the control of the method of cultivation so that the soil may be kept in good productive condition. The fences are mostly of wire, the fields drain naturally and general farming is successfully carried on. Mr. Gray is one of the directors of the Kinmundy Building and Loan Association, having been first elected in 1902, being elected treasurer in 1907 and president in 1908. He was married on March 20, 1900, to Mrs. Winifred Grady (nee Shultz), of Olney, Illinois. She is the representative of a well known and influential family of that place. Mrs. Grady's father, Charles Shultz, came to America from Germany when fourteen years of age, settling first in New York City, later coming to Olney, Illinois, where he now lives engaged in general merchandise business. Mr. Shultz was married in Olney to Sarah Elizabeth Gaddy and ten children were born to this union, Mrs. Gray, our subject's wife, being the seventh in order of birth. The commodious and well furnished home of Mr. and Mrs. Gray has been blessed with the presence of three bright and interesting children, Elizabeth, Anna Winifred and James Harvey. One singular, interesting and enjoyable feature in the life of our subject is that for fifteen years there were four generations living under one roof, and for the past eight years, and at the present time, there are four generations living. Our subject is the only one left to perpetuate the name of his grandfather, James H. Gray. He is a member of Kinmundy Lodge No. 398, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Salem Chapter No. 64, Royal Arch Masons; Cyrene Commandery No. 23, Knights Templar, Centralia, Illinois; Oriental Consistory, S. P. R. S., and Medina Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of Mystic Shrine, Chicago, Illinois. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, being a trustee in the same and was treasurer of the building committee when the new structure was erected in 1905. In politics he is a Republican, and while he has never aspired to positions of public .trust at the hands of his fellow voters, in matters pertaining to the welfare of his township, county and state he is greatly interested and his efforts in behalf of the general progress has been far-reaching and beneficial. Mr. Grav's name is associated with progress in the county of his birth and among those in whose midst he has always lived he is held in the highest esteem by reason of an upright life and of fidelity to principles which in every land and clime command respect.
Extracted 27 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 415-419.