HARVEY C. GRAY. The call of the land and the ambition to own homes was fundamental reasons for the population of Western Kansas. One of the men who responded to that call very early and whose experience and residence in Stanton County have been long enough to show results is Harvey C. Gray, a farmer and rancher in Mitchell Township of that county. It is now more than thirty years ago that Mr. Gray came into this region, then far out on the verge of the western frontier, and his life has contained practically all the vicissitudes known to the frontiersmen.
Mr. Gray was born in Boone County, Indiana, October 5, 1844, and now at the age of seventy-four is able to enjoy the prosperity garnered by his long and useful years. His grandfather, William Gray, was a native of Kentucky, and along in the '30s moved to Indiana and died upon the farm he developed from the wilderness. His children were: James A.; Cyrus; Rebecca, who married Mr. Beaty; William; Mrs. Moses King; Mrs. Dunn; Sanford C. and David. By a second wife Grandfather Gray had two children, Mack, and Margaret, who married Abe Brown.
James A. Gray, father of the Stanton County citizen, was also a native of Kentucky, but spent most of his active life in Boone County, Indiana, his home being between Lebanon and Thorntown. He lived privately and quietly and was a farmer, a member of the New Light or Christian Church, and began voting as a whig and ended up as a republican. He married Delilah Brinton, daughter of Robert Brinton. The Brintons and his wife's people, the Allens, were all Kentuckians. Mrs. James A. Gray died in 1866, leaving the following children: Robert, who died in childhood; William A., who was a Union soldier and is now living in Boone County, Indiana, Harvey C.; and James A., of Houston, Texas.
Harvey C. Gray grew up in the woods of Boone County, Indiana, obtained a fair education in the rural schools and lived until manhood on the farm of his parents. From the same locality he took his wife, and on November 7, 1867, married Mary Ann Long. She was born in Washington County, Indiana, November 4, 1848, a daughter of Singleton N. Long, also a native of Kentucky. The Longs came to Indiana and first settled in the southern part of the state, later in Boone County, and finally moved out to Jasper County, Missouri, where Singleton Long died near Joplin. His wife, Sarah J. Hartley, was a native of Indiana and died at Carl Junction, Missouri, in 1918, at the age of ninety-two. Singleton Long was a farmer. His children were: Mrs. Gray; John H., who died at Snohomish, Washington; Harriet E., who married Thomas Holmes and died in Washington; Rebecca A., wife of Perry Atkinson and living at Carl Junction, Missouri; William, of Portland, Oregon; and Joseph E., of Joplin, Missouri.
After his marriage Mr. Gray continued to live in the old home community of Boone County for upwards of fifteen years and two of his children were born there. His oldest child is Delbert, still unmarried and at home. The next is Elmer, a barber at Stafford, Kansas, who married Nina Douglas, and their children are: Nellie, wife of Charles Burns, Iva, Ethel, Irvin and Kenneth. Bessie, the youngest child of Mr. and Mrs. Gray, was born in Kansas and married William Barry, of Stanton County. Their children are Alva D., Thelma, Chester and Gladys.
It now remains to recount Mr. Gray's life and experience in Kansas. When he left Indiana he drove a prairie schooner out to Kansas, bringing with him a team and wagon, his wife and two children. He arrived in the state in 1883, spent his first year in Labette County, near Cherryvale, and two years in Montgomery County. He was a tenant farmer in both those counties and his three years there were seasons of poor crops and he found himself no better off when he abandoned Eastern Kansas than when he entered it. In the meantime, seeking a place where he could achieve independence, he went out to Clark County, Kansas, and entered a pre-emption near Ashland, but circumstances prevented his ever occupying that place.
In March, 1886, he and his family moved directly into Stanton County, where he entered a pre-emption in section 1, township 27, range 40. He proved that up while living in his sod house, did some breaking of the land, and eventually mortgaged and finally deeded the quarter section to the mortgage company. His next homestead was in Hamilton County, where he built a good sod house. He commuted on this land, spending about a year there. This was also mortgaged and it shared the same fate as his first home and the fate which overtook many other tracts of encumbered western land.
From the homestead he came to a school tract, buying the northeast quarter of section 36, township 27, range 40. On this his third pioneer house in Kansas was built, Here he has made a permanent abode, and in this locality his career of gradual advancement and recuperation from his earlier financial losses was made. He brought a few horses and a few cows to the place and has entered more and more into the stock business with passing years. In only one year has he failed to raise feed for wintering his stock. His crops have been confined to mile maize, kaffir, sorghum and such rough feeds as are adapted to the soil and climate. In early years he experimented with wheat. For two years this grain matured and made a profit, but in the third year he did not harvest a single grain and that put an end to his ambition to become a wheat grower.
When his last sod house was abandoned Mr. Gray erected a modest frame building to take its place and recently he put up a "blizzard" house, a sod addition, plastered and cemented, and furnishing the all-seasons comfortable room of his home.
While the struggle for existence in earlier years was a hard one Mr. Gray did not neglect the duties of a man living in a community and desirous of its welfare. He has been a republican as a voter. He was a director of his school district, a justice of the peace in the township, and also trustee of Mitchell Township. A number of years ago he was elected sheriff of Stanton County, serving two terms of two years and, being re-elected, served three years on account of the change in the election law. While in his official capacity he became acquainted with every settler in the county. His chief work as sheriff was serving papers in foreclosures, and throughout the five years he made only one arrest. The county was absolutely at peace with all the world at that time.
While sheriff Mr. Gray kept his home on his farm and at the conclusion of his official term resumed without a break his work of cultivation and his business as a stock man. His cattle are a mixed strain of White Face and Shorthorn, and he favors the White Face as the stock best adapted to this western country. His pork always comes from his own hogs and his fruit often from his own orchard. Cherries and peaches have done well in his experience, requiring only occasional irrigation. His garden truck is always a feature of his home, and he has raised exceptionally good cabbage and has a fine location for melons. Mr. and Mrs. Gray are members of the Methodist Church, having joined that denomination in Indiana when young. Mr. Gray is a steward of the Fletcher congregation of that faith.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
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