Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. II, p. 1475
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902
Solon Gray is a representative of the manufacturing interests of Sterling, Rice county, where he is carrying on a good business as a broom-maker. He was born in Sullivan county, Indiana, October 12, 1837. His father, James Gray, was a native of Montgomery county, Kentucky, born January 1, 1799. The grandfather, Thomas Gray, was also a native of the same locality and owned a saltpeter mine. He died in the prime of life, leaving his children to care of his widow, Mrs Martha Gray, who was born in Greenbrier county, Virginia (now West Virginia). She nobly took up the work of caring for her four sons and three daughters, and not only reared her own children but also some of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her husband died in 1815, and, having long survived him, she passed away, in Iowa, in 1866, at the advanced age of ninety-six years. Thus ended a long and noble life. She represents a family noted for longevity, and her last surviving son lived until about 1893.
James Gray, the father of our subject, was reared in the Blue Grass state and after reaching maturity he married Elizabeth Elliott, who was born near Guilford Court House, North Carolina. They were married in Sullivan county, Indiana, in 1829. The father was a major in the militia, both before and after the Civil war. By occupation a farmer, he followed that pursuit throughout his business career and became well-to-do. By his marriage he had five sons and three daughters, of whom four sons and two daughters reached mature years. The living are: Solon, of this sketch; Elizabeth, the wife of F M Buckner, of Ottumwa, Iowa; Mrs Martha McCormick, who is living in the same place; John, a resident of Spokane, Washington; and Joseph, who is living in Denver, Colorado. L E, the first born, died in Ottumwa, Iowa, and the other two children died of scarlet fever. The family removed to Ottumwa county, Iowa, in pioneer days, taking up their abode there in 1849, and throughout the remainder of his life the father was a resident of that locality. His death occurred in August 1872, and his wife passed away on the 24th of January, 1886.
Solon Gray, whose name introduces this record, was reared in the usual manner of farmer lads and acquired a good common-school education in Indiana and Iowa. He remained at home until his majority, and in 1860 he was appointed deputy sheriff of Ottumwa county, serving in that capacity for four years. On the 12th of April of the same year he was united in marriage to Miss Susanna Hoover, of Wapello county, Iowa, a daughter of Mahlon and Ruth (Dimitt) Hoover, both of whom were Indiana people and followed farming pursuits. They reared six children, and from their Indiana home removed to Iowa in 1845, becoming settlers of the Hawkeye state.
Mr and Mrs Gray began their domestic life in Ottumwa, and upon a farm in that locality resided for fifteen years, coming to Kansas in 1875. In 1873 Mr Gray and his father-in-law, Mr Hoover, visited Sterling, with a view to making a settlement here, and upon returning to the Hawkeye state they disposed of their business interests and brought their families to Rice county. Mr Gray is now the owner of two farms in the county, and the income derived therefrom materially increases his possessions. His immediate supervision, however, is given to the conduct of his broom factory in Sterling, in which he employes two men. He is carrying on a good business and has made judicious investments in real estate, so that he is now in comfortable circumstances. In 1898 he erected a good residence at the corner of Third and Jackson streets, where he and his wife are now living. Unto them has been born one son, Dr James Mahlon Gray, who is married and who, with his wife and two children, resides in Sterling, where he is now successfully engaged in practice. He is a graduate of several medical schools, including the college in Keokuk, Iowa, the Kansas State Medical College and the Eclectic College of Lima, Ohio. For a number of years he has been engaged in practice in Rice county and his success is the outcome of distinctive ability.
Solon Gray, the subject of this sketch, is a member of the Masonic fraternity, having taken the degrees of the blue lodge, chapter and council. He has passed all of the chairs in the lodge and is the oldest past master in Kansas. He has organized many lodges in the state and is one of the most zealous and earnest advocates of the craft. Politically he is a Populist, and has been chosen to represent his district in the Kansas legislature. In 1895 he was the first assistant sergeant-at-arms in the senate, filling the position in 1897 and 1898. He also served in that capacity during the special session of 1899. For twenty years he has been justice of the peace of Rice county. He regards a public office as a public trust and discharges his duties with marked promptness and fidelity, meeting every obligation that devolves upon him in a straightforward and reliable manner. He holds membership in the Christian church and has served as clerk and trustee in the same. His record is indeed worthy of emulation, for in every relation of life he has been found ever loyal to duty and to the right.