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About these pages

William Fairfax Gray was 48 years old with a fresh license to practice law when he left his wife and family in Fredericksburg, Virginia to journey to Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.  This first job with his cousin's law firm was to seek land for investment of eastern capital.  His diary gives us an intimate view of daily life and the rigors of travel by stagecoach, steamship and horse on the early 1800s frontier.  In his travels Gray became acquainted with just about every important person of the Texas Revolution, recording his impressions of them in his diary.  He was an observer and recorder of many events in the birth of the Republic of Texas, giving us through his diary a feeling of being there ourselves.

It may help the reader to know that $1 in 1836 would be equivalent to about $17 now[ 1], indicating travel was expensive in those days.  Gray's occasional minor expense of 12 1/2 cents was likely from his use of a Spanish one-real coin of that value or the use of a "bit" in payment.  At that time silver coins of dollar value were cut into halves, quarters and eighths to make convenient change.  The eighths, called "bits", were worth 12 1/2 cents each.[ 2]

Gray's twelve manuscript booklets are small, only 4 x 6 1/4 inches, each about 1/4-inch thick.  The pages are bound by thin twine, with no boards or covers.[ 3]  It's amazing they survived travel in saddlebags and dunking in streams.  Sample from Volume 9.

These pages are an online version of:

Gray, William Fairfax. The Diary of William Fairfax Gray, from Virginia to Texas, 1835-1837.  Edited by Paul D. Lack.  Dallas: DeGolyer Library & William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University, 1997, ill. 8, pp. xxviii, 305.
The publication was noteworthy because of Editor Paul Lack's annotation, index and careful adherence to the original manuscript.

Bibliography sources online

A few of the bibliography sources are now online, such as Harbert Davenport's, "Notes from an Unfinished Study of Fannin and His Men", 1936, on the web pages of the Texas State Historical Association at:

http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/supsites/fannin/index.html

See Davenport's Bibliography page for links to more online sources.

Page Navigation

The 1997 book is presented in its entirety, including notation of blank pages.  Here are some details on how to move around within the online volume.  At the top and bottom of each page you will see a navigation bar with the following links:

  • Go to Page   - provides tables of page numbers for going directly to a page if you know the page number.

  • Index   - takes you to a choice of the first letter of the name in which you are interested, then to that section of the Index.

  • Cont.   - takes you to the online contents page with the Diary's twelve volumes on the right and editorial material on the left.

  • Enlarge   - some of the illustrations have larger versions to make small details readable.

  • Notes   - takes you to a list of links to the editor's notes for each volume.

  • Biblio.   - takes you to the Bibliography.

  • Page-   - moves backward by one page number.

  • Page+   - moves forward by one page number.  The entire volume can be sequentially accessed using these Page links.

A note-number imbedded in the text will link directly to the editor's note.  The browser Back button should return you to the same place on the originating page.  Each note has a link to the beginning of the text page on which the note-number appears.

These online pages have been compared word-by-word with the hardbound edition to preserve its fidelity to the original manuscript.

H. David Maxey - 2003


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  1. Inflation calculator at http://www.westegg.com/inflation/ by S. Morgan Friedman, based on Historical Statistics of the United States, colonial times to 1970, Washington: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1975.
  2. "TRADE TOKENS." The Handbook of Texas Online. [Accessed Friday, May 2, 2003].
  3. Ralph L. Elder, Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


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The Diary of William Fairfax Gray, from Virginia to Texas, 1835-1837
Copyright 1997 William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies
Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas