Return to John Alman Gray
Copy of a Letter From Minnie Rush Treadaway To Maggie Adcock Austin (May 5, 1946)
Grateful appreciation to Jim Williams for his analysis of this important family document.
Foreword by Jim Williams
Some twenty-five years ago Aunt Maggie sent us a lot of family history information and, in the process, sent a photocopy of her letter of May 5, 1946 received from a cousin, Minnie Rush Treadaway1. For about five years, since retiring, I have been actively researching genealogy of my ancestors and their descendants.
Only in the last year have I tried to verify all the persons named in the letter and add them to my database, whether in my direct ancestral line or not. As of September 2008 most of them have been confirmed with various degrees of certainty. In comparison to similar documents, I have found her names and places ninety-five percent accurate. Usually an error was in the first name of a person but the relationship was correct. The following is written by Jim Williams:
In the transcription of her letter to text, I have added footnotes. These are explained in more detail starting on page 10. If you wish further clarification, I am happy to provide what I know. Any additions or other assumptions are also very welcome for study..
Should you wonder why I have gone to such elaborate details, you will discover that this letter provides clues to the relationship between certain people who were interacting regularly and left many wondering just how they were related.
One example is Rufus S. Keith. From Minnie’s clues I have identified and verified many relatives through Wills, Marriage and Census records, as also data from other Keith researchers. No record to date had tied Rufus’ two brothers, Martin H.[page 568 Keith Book] and Middleton together. This letter does. One experienced researcher quipped, “I wondered how Martin and Middleton were linked. They were always doing things together.” Their mother Jemima’s Will also identified their youngest sister. Dinitia. While their father is still nameless, the letter constructs the family of their cousins, Mattie and Calvin, with their father John Keith [married to Mary Gentry], an uncle of Rufus. The Keith Book, page 508, shows the uncle’s family living in Knox County, Tennessee, adjacent to Roane County, where their widowed mother was shown for the 1830 Census. Known brothers of the uncle are mentioned as Andrew and Russell. One would possibly be the father of Rufus and his siblings. Due to two fires, the Roane County rerecords for the early 1800’s which would have revealed the husband of Jemima, owner of the family home, were destroyed. With all the researchers involved in the Keith family in East Tennessee, I am hopeful that the father, and other ancestors, of Rufus will be revealed. Without the six pages in this letter, the circumstances linking the Keiths may never have surfaced.
Another help is Minnie giving the name of John Almon Gray’s Army Captain as Captain Bill Cowan. One researcher had our John A. in a Georgia CSA militia in which there was a John A. Gray. However, there was no Capt. Cowan in the Georgia unit. There was a John A. Gray in the 18th Batt'n. Alabama Volunteers in which there was a Capt. George E. Cowan who enlisted a John Gray June 12, 1862 in the area where our John lived. Unless he was nicknamed “Bill” she had the wrong first name of the captain but the last name did fit.
This is being shared to show the value of her letter, stir your interest in the Gray/Keith lines, and to lay a foundation of understanding for future findings. If you see any errors, please let me know. I am sure there are several.
Transcription of Minnie Treadaway’s Letter to Maggie Austin
Her page 1
Fyffe, Alabama 5 May 1946
Dear Maggie, 2
You think it is taking me a long time to recover from “Flu”, as I told you I would write you all I knew of the family history that you didn’t have when I got over it.
Well I haven’t gotten entirely over the affects of it, but have been up and about most all time since I got up from it. I have just neglected writing.
Aunt Mollie3 came up and spent several days with us few weeks ago. So I got some information from her. She told me grandpa Gray’s sister is Fanny Frederick4. I thot [sic] mama said “Rederick”.
Aunt Mollie Looks lots better than she did at Mama’s5 funeral but she isn’t so well tho she is up most of time. She had to be down several times a day while she was here. She is forgetful too. See she had a stroke just a while before mama died. Poor old Aunt Mollie, I do love her. She is all whole Aunt or Uncle . . . . . ..
Her page 2
. . . . either I have living now.
Tom and Charley are my half Uncles you know. Charley is in very bad health and is nearly blind~ Carl said. Carl is his son. Mrs. T.N. Gray is Uncle Tom’s wife.
TOM6 T. N. Gray, Ft. Payne, Ala Route 1 CHARLEY7 C.F.Gray Valley Head, Ala.
Grandpa8 died Jan 9, 1921, I think it was Jan 9~ He was born May 25, 1834 in state of Tennessee. His father came from Spartenburg, South Carolina, to Tennessee.
Grandpa fought in the Civil War. His Captain was Bill Cowan9. I don’t know his General. He fought in the battle of Chicamauga up on Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga. And there was a Dismuke that was officer of some kind he was with. Seems like he was a Colonel.
Grandpa was [a] farmer, he also made chairs.
Aunt Mollie’s address. Mrs. M.A.Davenport, Attalla, Alabama, Route 1. Is your son home yet? Trust he is.
Her page 3
Aunt Mollie said Susie10, Aunt Sarah’s34 daughter, wrote her that A.D11. her son was about to marry one of Uncle Bud Gray’s12 great— granddaughters13. She wrote, guessed they were not enough related to hurt anything. I’ve been wondering, which one it is, and then she said she might have said Uncle Bud’s granddaughter. But she thot it was great—granddaughter. Aunt Mollie had forgotton.
Well, we are all up and about. Arthur14 and I are never well. Nancy Mel15 went to Jacksonville, Ala. this a.m. to take 3 months of school this spring and sumer. I sure hated to see her leave, she will be back home next Sat and Sun tho.
Lewis16 lives on Lookout Mt. now, out real close to Will17. Retta’s18 family still out there too. Lewis had three boys in this war and all . . .
Her page 4
. . . .got back. Fred19, the youngest was wounded in right thigh but didn’t lose his leg. He is married since he came back. He is in school in Auburn, Ala. He and his wife are both over there.
I must quit. I’m getting so nervous I can’t hardly write. Trust your health is better and that all of yours are well.
Write me along. I love you and like to hear from you.
Her added page 1 of 2
John A. Gray's8 father was Micah Gray20 reared at Spartenbery S.C. He had eight brothers — John, William and Isaac. Don’t know other 4’s names.
Micah’s mother was a Hendrix. His wife Polly (Cross) Gray. Polly (Cross) Gray’s brother — Solomon Cross. Shade Cross — their half brother.
Loretta Jane (Keith)21 Gray’s father — Rufus Keith22. Rufus Keith’s Children:
DAUGHTERS of Rufus Keith:
Sarah (Keith) Haney, Martha Daniel, Loretta Jane (Keith) Gray, Calthia (Keith) Daniel, Florida (Keith) Powell, Malissia (Keith) Carson,
SONS of Rufus Keith:
Calvin Keith23, two boys died when children.
Rufus Keiths brothers — Middleton Keith24 and wife25 Dinischice26, Martin Keith27 and wife Elizabeth28.
Calvin Keith29 and Mattie (Keith) Comer30, — Rufus Keiths first cousins. Mattie (Keith) Comer’s daughter31 married Oliver Hall32 of the Oliver Hall Co. store at Collinsville, Ala. Charles Hall33, Oliver Hall’s son is living in Collinsville now (1946. J. Williams), and is Pres. of the State National Bank of Collinsville
Her added page 2 of 2
John A. Gray’s sisters — Sarah (Gray) Clark, Betsy (Gray) Southerland, Fanny (Gray) Frederick4
Jim Gray, half brother to John A. Gray. Jim Gray’s mother was Mary (Coffee) Gray.
Identification of Certain Names Appearing in Transcript by Footnotes
1 Minnie Mae Rush, daughter of Charles Marion Rush and Nancy Elizabeth Gray.
Note: the 18th Batallion, Alabama Volunteers merged with the 33rd Alabama Infantry.