John Gray: his family, his land

My ancestor John Gray was born in Portadown, County Armagh, Ireland about 1810. It took me at least ten years to figure out where he lived in Mecklenburg. Now I know that he raised his family and farmed on Hall Rd, near Rehoboth Church, near a curve in the road.

John’s birth year fluctuates as much as 10 years on various records. But the average record says he was born about 1810. John Gray was a linen weaver at Colonel Blacker’s estate. Large areas of Northern Ireland were going bankrupt; With warehouses full of linen, fleece and merchandise, but no one buying. Colonel Blacker wrote in his journal about these financially difficult times, the year that John Gray immigrated, in 1838. (Before the famine.) John was married to Ann Purdy, immigrated with Nicholas Purdy’s family and lived by Robert Joyce in Mecklenburg who was married to an Elizabeth Purdy. Not sure how closely they are related, but we know John was related to and lived near Purdy’s in both Ireland and Mecklenburg County, Virginia. John and his family arrived in the New York, New York port 27 Jul 1838. A year and a half later, (19 Dec 1840) he was purchasing land in Mecklenburg, VA, near Rehoboth Church in Blackridge. John remained on that same property for the rest of his life.

John Gray, his wife Ann, his daughter Elizabeth (who also immigrated with him), and a boy under the age of 5 are counted on the 1840 Census. I’m not sure who the boy is, I’ve not yet found a record for him. John’s wife Ann died sometime before 22 May 1847, when John married Sarah Elizabeth Jones. Sarah’s father James B. Jones and mother Martha Newman lived on the adjoining property.

On the 1850 Census: There’s John, his wife Sarah, daughter Martha and daughter Sarah (less than a year old). The boy from the 1840 Census is unaccounted for. John Gray’s daughter Elizabeth was at school in Brunswick County, VA in the home of William Jones. (Not related to her step mother’s Jones family that I can see.) In 1857 Elizabeth married Washington Clary.

John Gray’s children with his 2nd wife Sarah Elizabeth Jones were:

  1. Martha Ann Gray, who married William H. Moseley
  2. Sarah J. Gray, who lived to be age 16
  3. Louisa V. Gray, who married Robert J. Lynch
  4. Charles Robert Gray, who married Mattie Floyd
  5. Rebecca “Dolly” Gray, who married George C. Taylor
  6. Nannie Elizabeth Gray, who married Jimmy Kidd
  7. Frank Jones Gray, married 1) Elizabeth Clary 2) Eula Bernard
  8. *Alginon “Nonnie” Gray, married 1) Theresa India Dortch (my line), 2) Martha Dortch (sister of his first wife)
  9. Thomas Beasley Gray, married Lelia Edenbeck (half sister to Mattie Floyd. Their mother was Sarah Tudor)

These children’s births as well as Sarah Jones Gray’s birth and death date are recorded in the James B. Jones family Bible. Pictures of all of James and Sarah’s children, except Louisa, are on this site under “Gray Family Pictures”. I don’t have an exact death date for John Gray. But, he was listed as deceased when Henry Mayo bought the James B. Jones land in 1889. After John and Sarah Gray died, their children: Martha, Louisa, Charles, Dolly, Frank and Thomas moved their families to Danville, Virginia. Alginon moved to various places as a carpenter. Only Nannie remained, which I believe is why all the siblings sold the family farm to Nannie and Jimmy Kidd.

Edwin Lambert went to the auction (shown in the newspaper above) of Jimmy and Nannie Kidd’s estate. When Edwin returned from the auction, Lula asked him, “Who bought the house?” Edwin answered her “You did!” He bought the place where his wife grew up as a surprise for her. Edwin Lambert was known as being rather thrifty, so this was an extraordinary surprise. I was unable to find out what happened to the Gray farm where Nannie Gray Kidd grew up, until this weekend. I visited the Library of Virginia to see this chancery case. They have cases in 1930, but not this case. This case was in the Mecklenburg Courthouse, in Boydton. D.A. Kidd bought the land at auction and was given the deed in 1932.

It took me awhile to realize “DA Kidd” was Adolphus Archer Kidd. The “A” was dropped on the deed. Tom Mayo inherited the land that his father, Henry Mayo, purchased from James B. Jones estate. On the 1940 Census, Tom Mayo and Adolphus Kidd were neighbors and living on Hall Rd. “Rt 620”, Hall Road, was written in the far left margin on this census page. Dolphus Kidd, who bought the Gray Farm, was a first cousin to Jimmy Kidd. Both men were grandsons of John B. Kidd. Adolphus was son of Allen Burl Kidd. Jimmy was son of Bartlett Kidd.

3 responses to “John Gray: his family, his land”

  1. Julie,

    Amazing work you have done here, it is wonderful. Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A really interesting post Julie!! And what a nice surprise to find out the information on the Gray farm at the Library of Virginia. Thanks for your detailed articles.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hobson Scott Wright Avatar
    Hobson Scott Wright

    Danville, Virginia, descendants of John Gray carry the story that a young son was killed in a wagon accident. Presumably this is the boy who is under age five in the 1840 census and is not seen in any other records.

    I place John Gray’s death in the latter half of 1881 or early 1882. The 1882 Mecklenburg County Personal Property list shows John Gray, est. (estate) in its listing.

    Liked by 1 person

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