Transcribed from "An Illustrated History of The Big Bend Country, embracing
Lincoln, Douglas, Adams and Franklin counties, State of Washington",
published by Western Historical Publishing Co., 1904.
HON. JOHN GRAY, better known
as Captain Gray, a prominent mining man, with his home at 214 Third avenue,
Spokane, came to Spokane February 1, 1893, and embarked in the second-hand
mercantile business. He remained thus engaged until 1900, when he
sold out. Since that time he has devoted his energies almost exclusively
to the operation of mines. Prior to his advent in Spokane, Mr. Gray
had had some experience in mining matters in New Mexico, and in December
of 1895, he located the well-known Crystal mine at Fort Spokane.
A corporation, of which Captain Gray is vice-president and superintendent,
was formed to develop the property, which is one of the best equipped mines
in this locality.
In the fall of 1902 Captain Gray was elected
on the Democratic ticket to the state legislature from the fifth legislative
district, which office he still holds; and in May, 1903, he was elected
to the city council of Spokane, from the second ward. Having business
interests in Lincoln county, he has spent a large portion of his time here
since coming to the state. He is in partnership with Benjamin Linsay,
a capitalist of Pierce, Nebraska, and Byron W. Woolverton, a real estate
dealer of Spokane, in the Crystal City townsite, adjoining the mine of
the same name. He owns a handsome modern house in Spokane and is
in high standing among the business men of the city.
John Gray was born in Terre Haute, Indiana,
August 28, 1843, the son of James and Elizabeth (Elliott) Gray, the former
a native of Kentucky, of Irish descent, and the latter a native of North
Carolina, of Scotch ancestry. He has had three brothers and two sisters,--Loton,
deceased, Solon, Joseph, Mrs. Elizabeth Buckner, deceased, and Mrs. Martha
The father of the family was a wealthy farmer
who took his wife and children to Ottumwa, Iowa, in 1850, where he remained
until his death in 1875. While here the oldest son was elected sheriff
of the county, and John was his deputy for two years. Later our subject
was a member of the police department of Ottumwa, and for ten years was
at the head of that department in the capacity of chief.
In October, 1867, Mr. Gray was married to
Jane E. Stevens, daughter of Dr. Abraham and Catharine (Peckenpaw) Stevens.
Dr. Stevens, now ninety years of age, is still living in Ottumwa, while
Mrs. Stevens is dead. The only issue of this marriage is Anna Lee,
wife of a mining and real estate man of Spokane.
In the summer of 1879 Captain Gray shipped
to Sante Fe, New Mexico, the first car load of mules that ever went over
the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad. Later he located in
Santa Fe and engaged in the grocery business. He became clerk of
the court of his county, held the office two years, and later was for four
years warden of the territorial penitentiary, his appointment to this responsible
position coming from Governor E. G. Ross. His record in this office
was made remarkable in that during his tenure not an escape was effected
from the institution. He was next made chief of police of Santa Fe,
which office he held for three years, when he resigned to come to Spokane.
While a resident of Iowa Mr. Gray built and
owned the steamer Mattie Wilson, which plied the Des Moines river, and
of which he himself was for a number of years captain, thus acquiring the
title he bears. Captain Gray is a member of Spokane lodge, number
34, A. F. & A. M.