Go to Page | Index | Cont. | xiv     | Notes | Biblio. | Page- | Page+

retained an extensive library and at considerable expense moved it to Texas.  A brief catalogue reveals a widely read and broadly educated man.  At the time of his death in Houston in 1841, Gray owned about 250 volumes.  These ranged from reference works -- legal treatises, commentaries, and codes; French, Spanish, Latin, and English dictionaries (including the famous one by Samuel Johnson); a set of encyclopedias -- to biographies and studies of agriculture, philosophy, physics, military science, and music.  He not only read about music, he also played the flute and regularly attended meetings of the Music Society.[ 9]

Gray engaged in a variety of activities suitable to a man of his social and professional standing.  According to family tradition, he volunteered at a young age for a company of riflemen.  In March of 1811, Governor James Monroe commissioned him as a company captain in the Sixteenth Regiment, First Brigade, Second Division, of the Virginia Militia.  His son later claimed that during the War of 1812 Gray's unit drove off a threatened British invasion at Occoquon Creek on the Potomac River below Washington, D. C.  The muster rolls indicate that the company served for less than one month in late August and September of 1814.  In 1819 Gray received a promotion to the rank of major, and the next year Governor Thomas M. Randolph commissioned him a lieutenant colonel, giving him the rank that served as a common prefix to his name for the rest of his life.[10]

Despite that title, religion was a more consuming passion than the military for William Fairfax Gray.  His piety and involvement were sufficient to elevate him to the vestry of the one-hundred-year-old St. George's Church of Fredericksburg before his thirtieth birthday.  He bought a pew, attended Bible classes on weeknights, and later as a family man it was often he rather than his wife who took responsibility for getting the children to and from the services.  In fulfillment of his role as a vestryman, Gray saw to cleaning the churchyard and similar duties.[11]

He also found time for fraternal activities and again rose to positions of leadership.  In November of 1824, he was Master of the Fredericksburg Lodge of Free Masons that welcomed the Marquis de La Fayette on his tour of the United States.  Gray was an officer in that organization for the next eight years and in December 1831 became district deputy grand master.  He was also appointed as a marshal at patriotic events such as the parade held in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.[12]

Gray postponed marriage until he was well established.  At age twenty-nine, on September 24, 1817, a few months after his election to the vestry, he married Mildred (Millie) Richards Stone.  She was the seventeen-year-old daughter of William Scandrett Stone, who had been the town mayor.[13]  It was an excellent

Go to Page | Index | Cont. | xiv     | Notes | Biblio. | Page- | Page+

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