|Joker's Wild had toes tapping at the |
2012 Reunion of the Grays of Hancock County, Maine.
For years the third Saturday of August has been set aside as a day for the Grays of Hancock County to gather and celebrate their heritage. This year’s reunion was an event reminiscent of the old fashion reunions decades ago, complete with live music, dancing, and just plain old toe-tapping family fun. If you’re a descendent of Joshua Gray and didn’t join the clan this past August 18th reunion, you missed something special. You might even consider marking your calendar now for next year’s event.
|Food, Fun, Family (2012)|
It was George Gray (the one born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1625 and died in Berwick, Maine in1693) who rather unwillingly started the historic trail of tree roots from which 99.99% of all the Gray descendents of Hancock County, Maine have grown their families from. George, descended from Alison Gifert and James Gray, who reportedly was born on the 9th day of February 1606 in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland (the son of Barbara Sanderson and John Gray). George was also one of 150 Scots who were—as the few last remaining prisoners of war from the Battle of Dunbar—shipped to America on the Unity in 1651 as “Scots for sale” or indentured servants to provide cheap labor for industries being established in the New World.
|Generations join together. (2012)|
Luckily—though five to eight years of being indentured seems like a harsh and unlucky stint in life—it was not a lifelong sentence. Seventeenth century records show how these unintentional immigrants became Maine and New Hampshire’s first landowners by taking advantage of land grants upon their freedom. It was these very same early Scottish settlers in the region who were instrumental in making petition to divide Maine from Massachusetts. In 1670, George was granted, on the 24th day of June, a 6o acre parcel of land (per York Deeds, III Preface) in the upper division of the town of Kittery, previously known as Unity and later known as Berwick.
A fellow Scotsman, Alexander “Sander” Cooper was also granted an equal parcel on the 13th of April, 1671. The two Scotsman who had shared hard labor at the Great Works Sawmill in Unity (now Kittery) and other circumstances for years, would come to forevermore share in the Gray’s American history when “Sanders” sixteen-year-old daughter, Sarah Cooper, become the spit-fire bride of, the then forty-seven-year-old, George Gray. But, he was certainly aware of her temperament when he married her; court records show he’d paid her fine for public profanity and the striking of another woman.
|Gray cousins reunite. (2012)|
Perhaps it was a good thing Sarah had a lot of fight in her, as being a settler was not an easy occupation. She and George had five children. One, also named George, was captured and marched off to Canada by Indians during a raid and they never saw him again. It was another of their sons, Robert, and his wife Elizabeth Freethy, who became the parents of Joshua Gray who married Jennat Elliot. Joshua is credited with being responsible for planting the Gray family roots so deeply in Hancock County, Maine. (And that is another story.)
|2012, Orland, Maine|
Each person has their own unique and interesting story in life, the more research I do, the more amazed I am at the lives of my ancestors. Whenever I run into history in Maine with the Gray name attached to it, more often than not, I can trace it to Joshua Gray. Grays have experienced some of the hardest times in our local, national and world histories. Some have lost their lives in doing so. Others are unsung heroes without public recognition, yet others were, and still are, well noted for their leadership. That said, I can’t help but wonder if it might just be the little bit of Sarah Cooper’s DNA which gave the Joshua Gray bloodline the spark of determination and straightforwardness needed to persevere all these years.
By the way, in George Gray’s last will and testament he referred to Sarah as “my loving wife.” It appears she must have turned out to be well worth the price of the fine.
—Gail J. VanWart
Another Hancock County Descendent of Joshua Gray
More history of the Gray family of Hancock County can be found in "The Descendents of Joshua Gray" compiled by the Gray Reunion Committee and printed in 2005 by Downeast Graphics & Printing, Inc., Ellsworth, Maine and, of course, on www.Ancestry.com. You can also find current information on their Gray Family of Hancock County, Maine group page on Facebook.
© Copyright 2012 Gail J. VanWart All Rights Reserved