Pueblo County, Colorado
John M. Gray
Contributed by Jean Griesan.
John M. Gray is treasurer of the Mead Hay Press Company and proprietor of a carriage and implement store in Pueblo that is one of the finest establishments of its kind in the entire state. He is a member of an old Virginian family that settled in Kentucky in an early day. His father, Robert S., was born in Scott County, Ky., was a son of Benjamin P. Gray, a farmer and dealer in fine horses. The former, who engaged in the mercantile business in early manhood, later turned his attention to farming and stock-raising and on his farm, one and one-half miles from Versailles, Woodford County, in the heart of the blue grass region, he had a number of horses that were as fine as any in the state. On that place he died in 1887. Fraternally he was a Master Mason and in religion was identified with the Christian Church. His marriage united him with Maria Ball, who was born in Kentucky and spent her entire life in that state. Her father, William Ball, a native of Kentucky and a prominent farmer and horse-raiser, was a member of the Virginia family to which belonged Mary Ball Washington.
The family of which our subject is a member consists of five sons living and one daughter deceased. Benjamin P. is in St. Paul, Minn.; Dudley M. is engaged in mining in Cripple Creek; Robert, is a farmer in Kentucky; and Joseph resides in Pueblo. Our subject, who was next to the youngest of the sons, was born November 30, 1863, near Versailles, Ky., and was reared on the home farm, receiving his primary education in the Versailles school. His education was completed by his graduation from high school. In 1884 he went to St. Paul, Minn., where he successfully engaged in the real-estate business. After five years, in 1889, he came to Pueblo.
Buying a ranch of three hundred and thirty-five acres, twelve miles east of Pueblo, on the north side of the Kansas River, Mr. Gray engaged in raising hay and feeding sheep. He still owns the land, which is under the Excelsior ditch, the best in the state. In the spring of 1890 he embarked in the wholesale and retail carriage and agricultural implement business, being at first in partnership with his brother. In 1892 he bought the stock and succeeded W. H. Hyde, after which he was the recognized leader of the business in southern Colorado. His first house was on the corner of Third and Main streets, where he had one floor and basement, 22x110 feet in dimensions. After fourteen months he moved to a three-story brick structure on the corner of Third street and Grand avenue, and there he remained for five years. In December, 1895, he became sole proprietor of the business, and in September of the following year removed to Nos. 215-219 West Third street, where he has four stories, 65x125 feet in dimensions. The first floor is utilized for the storage of heavy stock and the exhibition of carriages, the second and third floors for the retail business and samples, and the fourth floor as a stock room. In the store may be found the Studebaker carriages and wagons, the Buckeye Buggy Company (Columbus, Ohio) carriages, traps, spiders, etc., the John Deere Plow Company's goods, the Deering Harvester mowing machines and rakes, and the products of many other prominent factories of the country. June 11, 1895, he bought an interest in the Mead hay press, and the next year became connected with its manufacture. In Pueblo, February 5, 1897, the Mead Hay Press Company was organized with Mr. Gray as treasurer. Since then there has been an increasing demand for the press and the sales are growing constantly. It has the great advantage of being the only direct pull press manufactured in the world, which renders it especially desirable.
In New York City Mr. Gray married Miss Sarah M. Timpson, who was born there. They have one child, Marion Elise. Mr. Gray is a member of the Minnequa Club and is actively connected with the Business Men's Association of Pueblo. In national politics he has always adhered to Republican principles, following, in this regard, the example set by his father and grandfather, who were first Whigs and afterwards Republicans. The latter was a personal friend of Henry Clay, and the father was so strong an Abolitionist that, shortly before the Civil war, he gave all of his slaves their freedom, believing that the institution of slavery was an unjust one and determining to show by his action that his sympathies were on the side of the anti-slavery movement.
Extracted from "Portrait and Biographical Record of the State of Colorado," published by Chapman Publishing Company in Chicago in 1899.
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