JAMES C. GRAY
JAMES C. GRAY. One mile west of Yuba City lies the quarter section of land which Mr. Gray inherited at the settlement of his father’s estate and which, under his capable supervision, has been transformed from the primeval condition of nature into a well-improved and valuable farm, having, in addition to the acreage used for pasturage and the raising of crops, a small vineyard and thirty acres in peaches, pears and cherries. One of the owner’s specialties is the raising of cattle and horses, in which, while not engaged upon a large scale, he has gained a local reputation and encouraging success. Besides his own farm he rents one hundred and sixty acres adjoining, which property is owned by a sister.
About 1829 James Gray left his native Scotland and crossed the ocean to the United States, where he followed the trade of a millwright in the east. In an early day he settled in Iowa and took up land forty miles north of Keokuk, where he remained for a few years. Later he became a pioneer of Hancock county, Ill., where he made his home at the time that Joseph Smith was killed in the jail at Carthage, the county seat, and during the Mormon struggles of that period he was an active factor in forcing them to leave that part of the country. In 1855 he came by ox-team and wagon to California and rented raw land two miles from Yuba City in Sutter county, but later bought a squatter’s title nearer town. By purchases from time to time he gradually acquired eight hundred acres of land near Yuba City and there carried on ranching pursuits, besides which he owned and operated a threshing machine. A man of strong physique, he was active until the illness came that resulted in his death, in July 1868, at sixty-four years of age. Though never an officeseeker [sic], he was a staunch supporter of the Republican party and never failed to cast his vote for its principles. In his native country he was reared in the Presbyterian faith and always afterward affiliated with that denomination, to which his wife, Mary (Carr) Gray, also belonged in Scotland and the United States. Her death occurred the same year as his own. They were the parents of seven children, namely: Robert John, deceased; Jane Ann, Mrs. Pratt, a widow, living in San Francisco; Mary Ann, deceased; James C., the subject of this narrative; William J., who died at fifty-seven years of age; Alexander, a resident of San Francisco; and George, who was twenty-four at the time of his death.
During the residence of the family in Hancock county, Ill., James C. Gray was born January 8, 1842. When a youth he accompanied his parents to California and during the entire journey, for one-half of each day, he drove four yoke of oxen. After crossing the plains he settled on a tract of land with his parents, whom he aided in the making of improvements necessary to the building up of a homestead. On the division of the estate he inherited one hundred and sixty acres wholly destitute of improvements, and his has been the difficult task of making the tract profitable as a means of livelihood and comfortable as a home for his family. Desiring to secure a market for his fruit, he was a prime factor in the establishment of the Sutter Canning and Packing Company of Yuba City and was chosen the first president of the same, filling the office for ten years. After the plant had been operated about fourteen years it was sold to the California Canning Association, and has since been operated by them.
May 6, 1868, Mr. Gray married Miss Ellen A. Plum, a native of Vermont, but from childhood a resident of California. Born of their union are seven children, namely: James Clarence, who is employed as roadmaster’s clerk for the Southern Pacific Railroad Company at Marysville; Rosa Belle, at home; Walter Scott, who is a dentist at Marysville; Etta, wife of Dr. C. H. Stocking, of Los Angeles; Blanche, Allen E. and Florence, who remain with their parents on the home farm. Like his father, Mr. Gray has always been an active Republican, but has never cared for official honors, preferring to devote his time and thought to the cultivation of his property. In fraternal relations he is connected with Enterprise Lodge No. 70, F. & A. M., at Yuba City, and is a devoted champion of the high principles for which Masonry stands.
Transcribed by Doralisa Palomares.
Source: “History of the State of California and Biographical Record of the Sacramento Valley, California” by J. M. Guinn. Pages 625-626. Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago 1906.
© 2017 Doralisa Palomares.