Facts and Events
Biography of William Michael Gray
Michael William Gray is the father of John Alman Gray. Family written and verbal information referred to him as “Michael” or “Micah”. On every census record from 1830 to 1850, and again in 1870 he is listed as “Michael”. In 1860, when found in Tennessee, he is recorded as “Mitchel”. In 1880, while living with William Rufus Gray, it is the only time he is found to be called “William”.
Except for family lore, all the information about him is derived from census records. The census records from 1850 to 1870 all show his birthplace as “South Carolina”. Currently, we are still searching for his South Carolina roots. Based entirely on census records, Michael was born about 1804. A family letter from Minnie Rush Treadway dated May 5, 1946 to Maggie Austin states that his mother was a ‘Hendricks’. Minnie also stated that Michael was married to Mary Ann “Polly” Cross, and that ‘Polly’ had a brother, ‘Solomon’ and a half-brother ‘Shade’. She further states that he had eight brothers, but she only knew the names of John, William and Isaac. Having a brother named William may explain why he used the name Michael for public records. Please click the following link for additional information on this letter: Minnie Treadaway Letter
Michael first appeared on the 1830 census rolls of Monroe County, Tennessee. Michael, Polly, and their daughter, Elizabeth, who was born about 1828, did fall into the age ranges on the census. At that time Monroe County, Tennessee was mostly Cherokee lands. There have been suggestions that there was Cherokee blood in the Gray line, but we have no current verification of this. Recently, Jim Williams joined a Cherokee internet website to explore this.
At the time of the 1840 census, Michael, Polly, and their growing family had migrated to Dade County, Georgia. The 1850 census found them now in De Kalb County, Alabama.
Thinking that they were lost in the 1860 census, after many hours of searching, a “Mitchel Gray” is found up the river in Hardin County in central Tennessee. To further complicate it, the census index had him listed in Hardin County, but when the Hardin County census records were checked, he, nor the referenced page was there. Finally, the page was one of several that were “tacked on” the Washington County census pages in the database.
Ten years later, for the 1870 census, they returned to Alabama and were living in Winston County, about three counties west of De Kalb County, where they are living in 1850. The census record reveals that their family stopped growing and only James was living at home. Michael is listed as sixty-five and Mary fifty years old. Their son James was twenty-one.
Apparently Mary died sometime before the 1880 census. Michael is found living with his grandson, William Rufus Gray, and is listed as “William” and “grandfather”. It appears the person giving the census information used the little-used name of “William” for him to show family pride with William Rufus Gray, his grandson, named for him.
At this time there is no record of the date of death or burial place for Michael William Gray. Also we have been unable to find out anything about his brothers or their descendants