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."
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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?