Archive for January 10, 2011

Obituary for a frontier photographer in Kansas

Okay, so what does Kansas have to do with Kazakhstan besides sharing some of the same letters? Yes, glad you asked. While going through old letters, I came across some interesting things about my husband’s grandfather who went by the name of W.R. Gray.  There’s renewed interest in our family because this dignified Kansas gentleman has a great, great grandson going by the same name. Kazakhstan is interested in babies but also in their ancestors  (to know seven generations back, means you are a good Kazakh) so that’s where I can make the tie in.  Just to give you an idea how obituaries were written in newspapers over sixty years ago, I’ll retype for you just the first part of it:

“William Rossetter Gray was born in Greentown, Howard county, Indiana, March 22, 1865, and departed this life at Bethel hospital in Newton, Kansas at 12:15 the morning of August 2, 1947.  At the time of his death he had reached the age of 82 years, 4 months, and 11 days.

Mr. Gray went to Newton to get medical advice concerning his failing health May 23rd and remained there until the end.  There it was found, he had a malignancy too far advanced for treatment.  At the time he left, he was still serving the public through the studio and felt he could hardly neglect his work to take time for sickness.  Although never ill enough to go to bed, he often worked when he should have rested.

Will, as he was called, was the tenth of fifteen children born to his Christian parents, Luther S. and Rebecca Gray. In early life he confessed his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and joined the Methodist church.  During his illness he often assured those about his sick bed of his hope of eternity.

In 1883, he moved with his parental family to a farm new McPherson, Kansas.  Here he met Mary Catharine Tipton, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Tipton, to whom he was married April 6, 1898. To this union five children were born.

In 1905 he purchased the studio in St. John and moved his family with three children in March of that year.  He was a pioneer in the field of photography and continued in the profession through the many scientific advancements to the present day methods.  He attended all conventions possible to progress in his work and became a member of the Photographers Association of America, as well as the Kansas Professional Photographers Association and Southwest Kansas Photo Club.  He served his territory with untiring efforts in a pleasant, friendly manner.

He was a member of the First Methodist church and the men’s Bible class, the Chamber of Commerce and Odd Fellow Lodge No. 539 to which he was especially devoted.  Two years ago he received his 40 year Odd Fellow Membership pin.  He led an unusually clean, highly principled life and had a keen sense of humor.  His leisure time included much reading, writing of poetry, working with tools, listening to the radio and visiting with friends around town.”

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