Monday, September 17, 2012

A Simple Blacksmith


eath of Nelson Gray

My great grandfather, Nelson Gray, was born in 1822 on a plantation in Georgia.  His mother was a house servant named Sarah and his father, James Gray, was the brother of the plantation owner (Archie Gray).  Until a cousin found this newspaper article, we only had census records and stories written about him by one of his sons.  It seemed odd that a man would live on this earth for 77 years and leave nothing more than a census report behind documenting his presence.
Great Grandfather Nelson was a blacksmith by trade.  Blacksmiths were very important to the community in the 1800s because they worked with metal to provide weapons, farm tools, cooking utilities, etc. and they also made repairs.  At the onset of the Civil War, great grandfather Nelson would have been about 39 years old with a wife and several children living on a plantation with extended family on near by McCrary, Riley and Mitchell plantations.
He is listed in the 1880 Census of Carsonville, District of Taylor County Georgia, Race-Mulatto.  Here he is listed with his wife Cassie and their children, James, Martin, Josephine, Josie, Amy, John, Admon, Cassie Ann Ellen.  A grandchild Marietta Brooks (This would have been the daughter of Cassie’s first son, not Nelson’s son.) and his maternal uncle Peter B. Gray.  Another child, Georgia Gray, is listed; however, her relationship cannot be verified at this time.  It is likely “Georgia” was an error in documentation and should be Archie Gray as he was born in 1879.  Three children were not listed on the 1880 Census, Sarah Gray who would have been married and out of the family home and Archie and Champion (my grandfather).  Champion (1882) was not yet born.


 Nelson Gray, aged 77 years, died at his home near Carsonville, on Monday  morning the 20th inst., after a long but patient illness. He was an honest, faithful servant, a blacksmith by trade, who in early life did a broad range of work in Taylor, Talbot and Upson counties. He was an excellent workman, kind and obliging and was liked by all who knew him. But the toil and hardships with him are ended; the last note upon his anvil has been sounded, and as he tried to live, so say a consistent member of the Baptist church; we trust his soul is at peace with its God.”
  Taylor County Tracer" Vol-9, Issue-9; Butler, Ga., Tuesday, March 28, 1899 (Newspaper), Vol. XXIII No. 22