The Gray Clan: The Book & The Beginning

the gray clan book cover

A few years ago we inherited The Gray Clan from Irene Gray, my husband’s paternal grandmother. Life was busy, we moved twice, and it got buried in a box. Last year when we were unpacking boxes in our new home I came across it again. I’ve always had an interest in genealogy and in my single days did quite a bit of research on the paternal side of my family, the Thomas Boyle Clan. Here was another Thomas from the British Isles reaching out to me to be researched. I read the book cover to cover, put it back on the shelf, life got busy, and another year passed.

I’m not sure what caused me to pull out The Gray Clan book again this year, but I did, and this time I’m not letting go. How much time I have to devote to researching the family will ebb and flow, but I hope to keep it going even if it’s only 30 mins. a week while my daughter is at dance class, or while I’m waiting on my hair color to process as I write this post from the salon.

I’ve created this website as a place for other Gray Clan researchers to connect, a place for family members to learn about their ancestors, to get those ancestors out of books stored away in dusty boxes, and to expand upon the amazing genealogical work that went into the original book. I can’t even imagine researching all of this in the 1930s & 1940s pre-internet and pre-computer. Hats off to those original family historians! Their work will not be forgotten.

So, here’s my plan. Again, how long it takes is anybody’s guess.

First, computerize the information from The Gray Clan. I’m going enter the information into my genealogy software and upload it to this site to create an online tree that everyone can access. If you’ve been entering this same info and have a GEDCOM file you’re willing to share, let’s talk!

As I work my way through the book I’m going to create blog posts from some of the information that is in story format. I’ve noticed that some information on specific subjects or people is spread apart in different sections of the book or added in the addendum. They didn’t have word processors when this was compiled, who can blame them?! In my blog posts, I hope to bring together some of this disjointed information, add new info as I research, and note questions the info raises.

Eventually, I’d like to create a .pdf version of the original book that can be easily shared with other family members and genealogists. And some day in the distant future create the second edition.

Now, I leave you with the first installment of transcribed info the preface from The Gray Clan, published by The Thomas Gray Clan of Butler County, Pennsylvania in 1951. Compiled by Mrs. Grace Sarah (Bish) Graham.  I’ve tried to transcribe it here as it appears in the book, although I did fix a few obvious punctuation and formatting errors.

The following pages are submitted to the members of the Thomas Gray Clan in America. We know that it is not perfect. We know that we have been compelled to be silent on behalf of some 200 members that we only know as “Oh yes! John had two sisters, one was married and had several children, John was married also, Marjorie is such a nice girl.”

Just who(?) is Marjorie and to whom was His sister married, and what are the names of the children? (Of course, these are all hypothetical names.) Perhaps we were unable to achieve the right contact. We apologize, for the sake of the history, and the future folks who will vainly search for Marjorie.

We are glad and proud that we have been able to secure the certified records of well over 3000 members. And have over two hundred and a quarter names on the Honor Roll, of those who wore the uniform of their country. Here, too, we feel that we do not have a complete roster, neither of name nor branch, also rank. It has been very difficult to secure proper information.

OUR MOTIVE. For pursuing this endless labor, in face of almost unsurmountable difficulties, sometimes. There may be those who wish to know that motive.

It began years since, trying to fulfill a sacred promise to a lonely homesick old couple, who braved the wilderness of a new country, in order to secure a comfortable, happy secure dwelling place, free from oppression and tyranny.

We are ready, now to declare that we have succeeded, beyond our most hopeful expectations. We have had many happy hours, when lists of whole families, have come to us (out of a clear sky) making our families one complete unit, instead of separate individuals.

Many good friends have passed on into the beyond-we honor their memories. We cherish their expressions of goodwill and appreciation for the work we have accomplished. We should like to name them all. That would make such a large volume that it would be most impractical.

Feeling most deeply, the loss of many of these loyal friends and helpers, we do wish to express our loyalty and grief at the passing of that outstanding man, Norman P. Bish. Teacher, organizer, Christian friend and gentleman, his work for the Gray Clan will be long remembered all over the United States wherever the members of our group live.

We are happy to state that almost without exception, our people, as a matter of course, exemplify the old Thomas Gray’s oft-repeated motto “Keep ‘e’s feet out ‘o’ the diert.” (Not always speaking of common mud.)

“Brevity, IS the soul of wit.” So. Without superfluous comment, I submit to you, the MEMBERS of the GRAY CLAN. These records as they now stand.

Grace Sarah (Bish) Graham -223p36- 5th gen.