Help support the WCHA Forums by making a tax-deductible donation!

Gray family letters- 1900-1940

Discussion in 'Research and History' started by frogahern, May 29, 2012.

  1. frogahern

    frogahern frogahern

    I ran across a ad on the Maine cl in the antique section about a sale in Union Me. for a collection of family letters from the family of George Gray (3500 letters). They did not throw away anything did they? The letters were from 1900 to 1940. The sale ended on may 5th but the ad is still active. You can see the ad by searching George Gray on the antique section on the Maine CL. Cheers Mike
     
  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I appreciate the tip. Let me thank you and everyone else who forwarded information about this and the eBay listings to me. Nearly all of this collection is now at my house after about a month of discussions and two trips to Union, Maine. The seller and I had very different ideas about the value of it so this took a while to resolve. The collection appears to have come from George Gray's house after the current owner moved to a nursing home. She had a reputation for never throwing anything away and now I can see why. My initial review of this information has occupied most of my free time over the past few weekends and I've found a few interesting things.

    There is a small notebook which appears to have some canoe orders with a few references to "sign canoes" from 1906. This may be some of the earliest documentation for Old Town's four foot long model canoes. One page lists “Large Sign on car” for an order that probably filled a railroad car and went to A. G. Alford Sporting Goods Company in Baltimore, Maryland. It is not clear if this indicates an advertising sign outside the railroad car or a sign canoe packed inside the railroad car. Another page has “sign canoe” underlined in what appears to be an order that would have filled two railroad cars to the Peters Arms and Sporting Goods Company in Cincinnati, Ohio.

    There are also letters from Sam while he was in college about: about a fraternity brother of his who had died in a canoeing accident, his efforts to resupply a lumber camp on his way back to school, and two trips to New York to help sell canoes at Sportsman Shows. One of the more unusual ones was from William DeWitt Hyde who was the president of Bowdoin College to George Gray about Sam's absences from Chapel.

    Benson
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 30, 2012
  3. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Benson,
    So appropriate that you have the info now.....! Bully for you!
     
  4. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I have started to organize and sort through some of these letters in more detail. There haven't been any dramatic revelations so far but one note from Sam's mother confirms the October, 1901 move to the Middle Street factory. Sam's summary of his first term in college from October 22nd, 1899 has been amusing to my two children who are both in college now. Scans of the relevant parts of these two letters are attached below in case anyone here is interested.

    Benson
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 27, 2012
  5. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    Do I sense the onset of a very intriguing series of articles in the journal? Maybe not immediately, but before too long? :)
     
  6. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    According to census records, neither Bert nor Charlie Morris went beyond the eighth grade...
     
  7. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Benson,

    Congratulations on getting the family collection, I can't imagine a better home for it.

    The old ledger looks a lot like Joe Seliga's early ledger, 1 at a time by hand with different inks/pens.

    Dan
     
  8. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    A future Wooden Canoe Journal article is possible but it will require much more canoe related material than I have found so far. The process is painfully slow so it may take a long time.

    Sam's father George Gray and Alfred Wickett never went to college either so you did not appear to need a degree to start a canoe business.

    Benson
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2012
  9. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    I may not be the only one who likes knowing a bit more about those who built these companies. It may not seem canoe-related, but it actually may be. To be able to provide your son with a college education because your business is doing well, must have been a source of pride-- and it also says that the family who built Old Town felt education was important.

    Boys took Greek and Latin because they were expected to read the classics in the languages in which they were written-- not exactly something a builder of canoes would need to know (on the surface), but investing in a mind is always worthwhile. Maybe this is a clue as to why OT was able to survive all the changes in the world, where other companies went under.
     
  10. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    We'll be patient!
     
  11. crosscuts

    crosscuts LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Benson,

    What a wonderful discovery, first for your favorite history subject which you generously share with all of us and second from the aspect of family history. Not many families have the treasure of saved correspondence for a certain period of time. Congratulations. Merry Christmas!

    R.C.
     
  12. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Hi, Benson, and echo the history for the family sentiment. Oh, the Latin and Classic studies at Bowdoin....I remember them well....and in some ways the Campus thrives with the same rigorous attention to the liberal arts tradition. And there are/were lots of boat builders who attended, Pulsifer, Hinkley, Gerrish, and many Grays......and probably more.
     
  13. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    There have been lots of students named Gerrish at Bowdoin over the years but do you know if Evan Gerrish or his son attended? It is certainly the first choice for many old Maine families. I probably should have gone there but I had other ideas at that stage and so have my children. It was interesting to tour the Bowdoin and Smith campuses with my children while thinking about what these colleges would have looked like when my grandparents and other relatives were there.

    Benson
     
  14. Rollin Thurlow

    Rollin Thurlow member since 1980

    Cogito ergo LINTER
     
  15. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    I think, therefore I canvas??? asks Dan, who barely passed French in high school, let alone Latin...
     
  16. Rollin Thurlow

    Rollin Thurlow member since 1980

    Well, In honor of Georges academic history would appreciate a bit of Latin. I tried for "I think, therefor I canoe" but those Latin classes were some time in the very distant past!
     
  17. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    A lot of sorting is still left to be done but I recently went looking for anything related to J. R. Robertson in the ones that have been organized so far from 1901-1903. I didn't find anything but did come across an interesting one about Sam's success in a running race. This was written to his older sister Lena with references to his younger sister Louise and a friend who had drowned in a canoeing accident. It is attached below for anyone who likes this type of background information.

    Benson
     

    Attached Files:

  18. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    It has been slow going but things are starting materialize. The letter attached below provides a December, 1900 start date for the Indian Old Town Canoe Company when Lena wrote a letter to Sam asking "Did you know they had named the Canoe Company the Indian Old Town Canoe Co. What do you think of it?" on December 8th. Now things should start getting more interesting.

    Benson
     

    Attached Files:

  19. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    I don't know that it can get any cooler than that....
     
  20. Treewater

    Treewater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Don't know the age of the writer but it is a mature hand with a broad personality range. The address displays a certain fear of the future. Overall withholding, not an outgoing individual but not quite introverted. All those sharp angles show both intelligence and a little abrasiveness. Slight uphill always means optimism. There is more if anyone wants to take up graphoanalysis. Persons from the past come to life by a close examination of their handwriting.
     

Share This Page