Skip to comments.Revolutionary War history: Last Ohio surviving soldier buried in Noble Co.
Posted on 03/22/2013 10:41:47 AM PDT by Pharmboy
Revolutionary War history Last Ohio surviving soldier buried in Noble Co.
HIRAMSBURG-Nestled off the beaten path in Noble County in a small family cemetery are two headstones marking the final resting place of Private John Gray, the last surviving Revolutionary War soldier in Ohio, and the second to last in the nation.
Though Gray fought in many battles during the war, he otherwise did little that would have gained him renown.
He was born the oldest of eight into a poor laboring family near Mount Vernon, Va., and worked most of his life as a laborer. He was not a famous author or poet. Nor did he go on to further military glory after the war.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Joy Flood, the curator and manager of the Noble County Historic Jail Museum and Information Center, overlooks the final resting place of John Gray, the second to last surviving Revolutionary War solider in the country and the last in Ohio. Grays plot in the small McElroy Cemetery is marked with his original marker and a veterans marker provided by the government.
None the less, the humble man, who lived out much of his life just outside of Caldwell, was an icon, said Salem resident Nina Ronshausen, Gray's fourth-great granddaughter.
"He was one of the last patriots to die," she said.
When he passed away in 1868, Gray was 104 and the war was more than 80 years behind him. But more than 1,000 people came out to attend Gray's funeral, said Ronshausen.
About John Gray
Born Jan. 6, 1764 near Mount Vernon, Va.
Died March 29, 1868 near Hiramsburg, Noble County.
Joined the Revolutionary War at age 16.
Was a companion and employee of George Washington.
Aged 104 at death, Gray was the second to last living Revolutionary War soldier in the nation and the last in Ohio.
Source: Times research.
The Last Man of The Revolution (Written about John Gray)
By: James McCormick Dalzell
In the chill and snow of winter,
A dark and bitter night,
While the wind is mourning sadly,
Like a lone and ruined sprite,
In a cottage in Ohio
A poor lonely man
Sits counting o'er the hundred years
Since first his life began.
In that cabin is one window
With a broken many a pane,
Through which the snow keeps drifting
With all its might and main;
And the old man sits and shivers,
For his fire is very low,
And his blood has lost the fervor
Of a hundred years ago.
His gray head bows in sadness,
His prayer is murmured low,
But God can hear him now as well
As a hundred years ago.
Call the roll of the noble old heroes
Who battled at Washington's side,
And only this voice in the cabin
Will answer -for all the rest died
In poverty, sick, in distress, and alone,
Forgotten, neglected, yet he
Adorns the fair banner he fought for of yore,
And prays for the "Flag of the Free."
And it was not his advanced age or even his participation in the war itself that made Gray such an icon, she said.
"They honored Gray because he had shaken hands with (George) Washington. This was a tremendous thing for people in 1869 that Gray was someone who had known General Washington," she said.
In fact, Gray knew the founding father, said Joy Flood, manager and curator of the Noble County Historic Jail Museum and Information Center and a member of the Noble County Historical Society Board of Trustees.
"He and George Washington were friends," she said.
When 16-year-old Gray joined the war around 1791, he cited that connection as a reason for joining the cause.
"I lived and was born near Mount Vernon, how could I do otherwise?" Gray told James McCormick Dalzell, a Civil War soldier and author who took an interest in chronicling Gray's life.
When the war ended, Gray returned to a life of labor, working at Washington's mill, said Flood. In his work, Gray had several occasions to briefly converse with the founding father who he greatly admired, wrote Dalzell.
"Mr. Gray never tired of speaking of General Washington," wrote Dalzell.
In fact, it might have been his inability to vote for his beloved leader that caused Gray to eventually leave his home in Virginia, where only property owners had the right to vote.
"The fact that he migrated west to such a dangerous place just so he could vote was so unique," said Ronshausen.
Gray eventually made his home near Hiramsburg, about 10 miles outside Caldwell.
There, the humble cottage he built -a symbol of his hard earned suffrage -still stands.
"There is a young couple in the process of restoring it," said Flood.
Just 100 yards from the small wooden cabin is the McElroy Cemetery, the family plot of where Gray was ultimately buried between his third wife and stepdaughter.
Gray's original headstone reads: "The last of Washington's companions/ The hoary head is a crown of glory."
You know what to do if you want on...
I often wonder if any of these revolutionary soldiers would have fought, suffered and died if they knew what America would turn into...
Now THAT was well worth reading!
We have at least one Revolutionary War vet buried near here, which is remarkable when you think that this part of Wisconsin was not settled until 1830-1840.
Nice story. Thanks for posting.
Just think of all he saw in his life. Amazing.
And they would not be happy with many of theings going on, but at least they would know that what they did sustained a Republic for more time than any before...
Perhaps 1781 because in 1791 he would have missed it by 7 years. Died in 1868 at age 104 means he was born circa 1764 and would be age 16 in 1780.
Wow...did he fight with Morgan’s Riflemen or another group? What a wonderful item to have in the family...and is that name Dutch or German? I ask since most of the gunsmiths producing rifles like this back then were German, although the name rings Dutch to me.
They suffered and died for nothing more than the right to live in a free nation.
I know someone in the SAR who says his Revolutionary War ancestor was the last surviving veteran of the war--I need to tell him about John Gray and see if his ancestor died after March 29, 1868.
John Gray outlived 13 of the first 16 Presidents, including 5 who were born after Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.
Indeed...but there were courts set up to compensate veterans with valid discharge papers. Many were given land in the middle of NY state, in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, among others. Michigan too, I believe...
One of my Revolutionary War ancestors was also in a Virginia militia company (from what is now West Virginia) and was at Yorktown when the British surrendered. He died in 1830 and though his widow tried for years to get his soldiers pension the government turned her down.
And my RW ancestor (also Virginia Militia) died a couple of years after 1785 after he settled the division of his Kentucky lands awarded him for his service between his sons from his first marriage. His son and daughter from his 2nd marriage inherited the Virginia estate, while the older boys headed to the Kentucky frontier. 2 of the older sons married Dr. Henry Clay’s daughters (they all traveled to Kentucky together.) We might even be cousins!
Hey, mine too! He hailed from the Pearisburg area.
So he must have been, what, 250 years old?
Mine was from a fort in the border area of Pendleton (now WV) and Rockingham counties.
This is why there should be editors.
“If he was the last surviving soldier, why did they bury him alive?”
My RW ancestor had settled in what is now Patrick Co. (then part of Henry Co.); his father and brothers were still up in what is now Nelson Co. He was one of five brothers, all of whom fought for the Revolution. The two youngest survived long enough to apply for pensions. The oldest brother got land in Kentucky, presumably because of his Revolutionary War service. My ancestor is said to have been at Yorktown.
I’ve been confounded by this old joke. You’re just the guy to help me figure it out.
“If a plane crashes right on the border of the United States and Canada, where do they bury the survivors?”
The game Trivial Pursuit had a good variation on it as well.
How many United States presidents are not buried in the United States?
The most popular wrong answer was George S. Patton.
I would have thought it was America’s greatest president, George Kennedy.
|GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach|
It may seem insignificant trivia to most, but it boggles my mind to think that their lives overlapped, albeit for just a year or so.
Wow...how cool is that? Gorgeous rifle!
“Brave men run in my family.”
Sounds like the cowards do too!
I just heard a glimpse of Savage’s show the other night on how people go on about their ancestry and how great they were. He was saying how he knows nothing of his - and imagines they included horse thieves and murderers. “How come we never hear about the horse thieves and murderers?”
So thanks for the story!
(Hmm. Back then it was hanging for thieves and murderers - so an early version of the “Darwin Award” - and hence not in many ancestries!?)
My mom is almost 95 (and has a better memory than me).
I heard someone the other day and talk about our Constitution being “200 years old” (okay - it might have been an old youtube!”)
But it struck me that she has been around almost half the time that we have been a nation.
I knew an old guy years ago that worked with Thomas Edison. It took me three different times over beers after mowing his lawn and listening to his stories that it dawned on me that the “Tommy” he referred to was Thomas Edison. (”Well who the h*&% did you THINK I was talking about!!??”
A great argument for term limits, Robert Byrd, was in the Senate during 11 different presidencies. We’ve only had 44 POTUS’s, so that old buzzard was literally in the senate under 25% of the presidents this nation has ever had...
My great grandfather went to find his brother, they hadnt heard from him in months. He ran away and lied about his age to enlist in the NC 21st. He was 14. His brother, my 2nd great uncle, was dead, gut shot, died in the Union prison at Point Lookout, Maryland.
His grandfather fought in the Revolution. He was a dragoon in Paisleys Regiment. He also served under his neighbor Joseph Winston in the Battle Of Guilford Courthouse. Joseph Winston was first cousin of Patrick Henry.
My own grandfather, son of the Confederate veteran, was born during Reconstruction. He was 86 when I was born. Im in my late forties.
It’s not as unusual as you might think. Many men waited and married late, in order to acquire the means of supporting a wife and family.
Thanks Pharmboy. He was a Great American
Rest in Peace.
When you think about lives, ages, and overlaps, it does indeed connect you with history, doesn’t it?
My Grandfather was a POW — in WW 1 in Russia during the Oct ‘17 Bolshevik revolution. He was German and captured on the Eastern Front. I have his memoirs. To think I talked with my Grandpa who was present at the birth of communism in Russia is amazing.
His son (my uncle - still alive at 92), was a newly graduated mechanical engineer in WW 2. He joined the Army and ran a shift at Oak Ridge National Lab enriching uranium for Little Boy that dropped on Hiroshima. I’m filled with awe when I talk with him.
Amazing family history.....just wondering, do your grandfather’s memoirs give any insight to the thoughts of the day concerning communism? I mean, did he/they realize how bad it was going to be? I often think about my granddaughters about 50 years from now, wondering why their grandpa didn’t do something. After all didn’t he see how bad it was going to be?
Unfortunately, no. He was (I think) 18 or 19 at the time and just reflected on the privations of being a POW. He was an excellent machinist and, in order to survive, collaborated with the Russians in village where he was held prisoner by machining parts for them. He escaped and walked back to Germany. He was lucky to walk across Poland between the end of WW I and the beginning of the Soviet-Polish war which started in 1919.
He passed when I was 18 years old. It’s such a shame that our ancestors pass too soon and we cannot talk to them as adults. I have so much I would love to discuss with him.
My grandfather left for the US with him family in 1927 during the Weimar Republic disaster. His father (my great grandfather) owned battery factories in Danzig which is now Gdansk, Poland, and stayed behind. (Danzig was a German eastern outpost on the Baltic from 1200 onward) The family home was in the Langfuhr district, very close to where WW II started. The Russian communists arrived in 1945, knocked on his door, and gave my great grandfather until sundown that day to leave. He and his sister walked back to Germany as part of the huge diaspora. There was a huge slaughter of Germans headed back to Germany after the war, so he was very lucky to survive. He died penniless in 1951 in Cologne, the year I was born.
I remember about 1960 that my Dad helped my grandfather with attempts at getting compensated by the communists for the factories that had been confiscated 15 years earlier, but no luck. The family fortune was all gone, wiped out by communism.
So even though I didn’t have the chance to talk to my grandfather as an adult about communism, I know exactly what he thought about it.
Thank you for the reply.....commies suck.
Great thread. I really appreciate it.
I have forebears who were veterans of the Revolution, some buried in KY, and MO, and IL, and as far west as Iowa and Nebraska.
It’s amazing that one man could have known Washington, fought in the Revolution, and lived three years beyond the Civil War. Astounding.
And the fact that he moved far out onto the frontier just so he could vote is remarkable.
The last survivor of the Americans who were at Lexington Green on April 19, 1775, died in 1864 at the age of 96.
Simon Bolivar Buckner was an American general in WWII who was killed in 1945 near the end of the battle of Okinawa. His father was the Confederate general who surrendered Fort Donelson to Ulysses S. Grant in February 1862.
This Revolutionary War veteran died in March 1868. When I was a child I knew a woman who was born in February 1869 and lived into her 90s (the mother of a friend of my grandmother’s)—she was born less than one year after this man’s death and when Lincoln would have been President if he had not been assassinated.
My great-grandmother was born in the centennial year of the republic, 1876, and lived until 1977...until I was sixteen years old. She was born the same year as Custer led his men to disaster at Little Big Horn. That always amazed me when I was growing up. Still does I guess.
On the other side, one of my maternal great-great-grandfathers served in the Civil War although he was already in his 40s--he was born in 1820. He was 6 years old when Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died. I had a great-aunt and a great-uncle who lived long enough for me to know them, who remembered him (their grandfather).
Correction—that should have read 1854, not 1864. Jonathan Harrington, 16, was a fifer in the Lexington militia at the time of the battle of Lexington and died in 1854.