Friday, November 19, 2010

The passing of time:

The passing of time:  historical events are important to the everyday life of a people.  Although, we are not always affected, for good or bad, by events around us, we are often changed by these events in some way, often without our awareness.   (Hindsight is clear)
Ø      On February 3, 1870, the 15th amendment granted Black men (not women) the right to vote.  My great grand parents were alive and well; however, I have no yet located evidence to indicate they voted.
Ø      In 1882, Thomas Edison switched on the first commercial electric lights in New York Central Station.  If you have ever tried to live without electricity, even for a couple of days, you can appreciate the value to the electric light. I have tried living on oil burning lamps for a couple of days.  The dim light, the smell of burning oil, and the milk smoke in the air is not romantic.
Ø      In 1882, the outlaw Jessie James was shot and killed by one of his partners.  Sometimes we die as we have lived.
Ø      In 1882, congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, suspending entry into U.S. of all Chinese laborers for 10 years.  So what the railroad construction was complete?
Ø      In 1882, Pace v. Alabama--Supreme Court ruled that an Alabama law providing severer punishment for illegal interracial sexual intercourse than for illegal sexual intercourse in which both parties were of the same race did not violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.  Enough said!
Ø      In 1882, Polygamy became a felony by the Edmunds Act as passed by the U.S. Congress.  So someone has a problem with me having two husbands?!

In 1880, ten years after the 15th amendment granted Black men the right to vote, Cassie Cashion Gray was a 38-year-old free woman living with her free 65-year-old blacksmithing husband, Nelson, in Carsonville, Taylor County, Georgia.  She was a housewife and mother of 12.  Nelson and Cassie had been slaves in this area and they remained there after slavery.  In 1880, two children, Brooks and Sallie, had married and moved out of the home.  Remaining with the family was:
1.       James Gray, age 17
2.     Martin Gray, age 14
3.     Josephine and Josie, age 12
4.     Amy Gray, age 9
5.     John T. Gray (aka Saul Riley), age 8
6.     Admon Gray, age 6
7.     Elin C. Gray (Cassie), age 3
8.     Georgia Gray, granddaughter, age 1
9.     Marietta Brooks, age 2
10.  Peter Gray (uncle), age 75
Grandchildren, Georgia and Marietta, were in the home as was Uncle Peter, grandmother Sarah’s brother, who, by the way, was still farming, no retirement for Uncle Pete.
The Gray family was not complete.  The 1880 Federal Census was taken in June and Uncle Archie Gray was born in July 1879, a year earlier; however, he was not listed on the census.  It is likely he was napping or he might have been with another family member, an aunt or a cousin.  In the next two years, the Grays would complete their family (at least for this set of Nelson’s children) with the birth of Champion Nathaniel Gray on 22 January 1882. 

Champion is my paternal grandfather.  I am not sure of the date of this picture.  It was given to me by Cassie Gray, great Uncle Martin Gray's daughter, way back in the 1980's.  The three brothers were on the picture together.  He appears to be a mature man; however, there is no record oral or otherwise that I have "yet" located to indicate Champion was with his brothers John T. and Martin after he was married and living in Mississippi.  He was a small man, slight in built and short in stature.  His only daughter, Cassie, my mother, and my aunts recall him as firm, rigid, and mean.  I love him very much.

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