I realized quickly that I’d have to “think outside the box” to learn about my ancestors. I LOVE to interview people, and listen to stories about "the older days" when life seemed a little slower and simpler. I study USGS maps, plats, read chanceries, look for long forgotten cemeteries and try to help preserve memories people share with me. This blog is ad free, so it's easier to focus on sharing stories. Feel free to sign the guestbook, or join the FaceBook group. Even if we aren't related by DNA, I'd still love to hear about your research efforts and family stories. I am interested in posting (to this blog) stories relevant to the Mecklenburg-Brunswick families.

19 April 2016

Frank Gray: his family and his house

Frank Gray's house-picture from Hazel King
After 5 visits and 10 years of asking people to look at my pictures, I can now identify this picture as Frank Gray's house in Alberta, Brunswick County, Virginia. This (and 4 other pictures), Hazel King knew were "Gray family pictures", but no names or dates. I hadn't been able to find any one from Frank Gray's family. I guessed this might be Frank Gray's house, and his grandchildren, but couldn't find anyone to prove or disprove this. Theorizing this could be Frank's house, I drove around the Alberta area looking to see if I could find a house like this picture. I could not. March 24, 2016 I had the chance to go to Alberta to learn more about Frank.

August 2012, I discovered in the courthouse that Frank Gray bought his farm from Anderson Elmore. There was a stipulation in the deed, that future Elmore family could be buried in this cemetery, and that Frank would care for the cemetery. Anderson Elmore is buried in this cemetery, but was Frank Gray? http://www.brunswickcemeteries.org/HTML/elmore.htm  It would make sense, because it is his land. A descendant of Nannie Gray Kidd, was living on Nellie Jones Road in Mecklenburg when her Uncle Frank died. She told me it was rainy, she was very young, so her mother wanted her to stay home with a neighbor. But she remembers her mother went to the funeral in Alberta and that Frank was buried in Alberta. Frank and his family attended Bethel Grove Methodist church, but he was not buried at that cemetery. His daughter Nellie was.

Fortunately, I knocked on a stranger's door, near Bethel Grove church. Douglas and Betty Winn knew the answers to my questions and helped me, even though they are not even related to me. They introduced me to Frank Gray's grand daughter who told me that picture was Frank's house, but it's no longer standing. It wouldn't have been visible from the road either. It was near where the trees start now, leading back to the Elmore cemetery. I'm told when Frank owned the farm, peanuts (possibly soybeans too) grew in a field across from the cemetery. Now that area is overgrown dense woods. Frank is buried at the Anderson Elmore Cemetery, on his old farm. There are at least two unmarked graves. One has to be Frank, his grand daughter knows he's buried there, she was there. The other plot I could see, I theorize is Frank's son, John R. Gray. John died in Jan 1920, one month before he would have turned 34. One humorous part of my trip is that I had been trying to find the Elmore and Jones cemeteries with GPS, but Douglas knew and found it from memory, even though he hadn't been to the Jones cemetery we also visited (near Frank's farm) for decades.

Hazel King and my great grandmother Fannie Gray had this picture of Frank Gray, part of Alginon Gray's wedding picture taken in May 1904. At the time of this picture in 1904, Frank was married to Elizabeth Clary with 4 children, living in Danville. I asked Frank's grand daughter what she could remember. She said she was holding her grandfather's hand when he died. I was told Charles Gray had a very thick accent, their father John Gray immigrated from Ireland about age 30. I asked if Frank had an Irish accent and she said no, same accent as everyone else around. I asked what color his eyes were. She commented they were very striking, a blue-gray.

Frank and his family had a buggy pulled by horses. They had a cow for milk, several horses, land for pasture, a garden and pear trees. There was a root cellar under the house. There was a built in bench on each side of the porch. There was a fireplace in every room. The house was 3 levels, two bedrooms in the attic. The first floor included a kitchen, dining room and hall way. Eula, Frank's wife, had a side table in the hall by the stairs. She kept a bowl of lemons, so as you walked down the stairs (inside the house) you could smell the lemons.

Nellie Gray was technically a half sister to Hazel. I was told they were like real sisters, really close and good friends.  I was told all the children from the first marriages of Frank and Eula got along really well. Every day, even in bad weather, Frank and Eula walked to their daughter Hazel's house for a visit. Hazel's land according to the deed was originally part of Frank's farm. After her marriage, Hazel was their neighbor. If it was raining, Frank left his boots outside the door. The grandchildren grabbed his boots and went out to splash in the mud puddles. He never got upset or ever said anything. Hazel taught school in Mecklenburg and Roanoke. She did lots of sewing, especially for other children in Alberta who couldn't afford clothing. Many children in Alberta wore clothes Hazel made. I asked about holidays. They had nice big holiday family dinners. They never smoked or drank, not even at holidays. At Christmas they looked forward to Santa visiting. They made coconut cakes for Thanksgiving. Frank Gray and his family lived in Mecklenburg, Danville and Brunswick. Frank's old farm in Alberta was so beautiful and peaceful! I really enjoyed learning about Frank Gray's family.

(See earlier posts 26 Apr 2012, and 24 Apr 2010, or by using the tag "Gray".) 

Note: Two Hazel's are referenced in this post. Hazel King had the pictures, was from Martha Gray Moseley's family. Hazel Jeffries was the daughter of Eula Bernard and AM Jeffries. Frank Gray was her step father.

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