Maternal Kin, North Carolina

Kinfolk?, no. 1.

In the 1880 census, Richard and Viree Morgan (John W. Colvert‘s sister) are listed in Eagle Mills, Iredell County, sharing a household with 20 year-old Squire Gray. Later that year, Squire married Rachel Way. Their marriage record lists Squire’s parents as E. Gray and R. Gray.

By 1900, Squire Gray, 39, his wife Rachel, 30, and daughters Hatty, 23, and Nelly Gray, 13, shared a household in Biltmore Precinct No. 1, Asheville, with Robert Jones, 50, his wife Caroline, age unknown, their grandchildren Robert, 10, Carrie, 7, and Valley Richardson, 8, and daughter Anne Richardson, 33. Both Squire and Robert worked as teamsters, and Rachel Gray as a cook.

In 1910, Square [sic] Gray, 61, Rachel, 59, Hattie, 18, and Nelly, 16, lived in the household of Dock and Lou Southern on Kenilworth Park in Asheville.

In 1920, Squire Gray, 70, wife Ratchel, 61, daughters Nellie, 40, and Ratchel, 35, and granddaughter Hattie, 1 ½, lived in Asheville on Kenilworth Park. [The names of Hattie and her daughter Rachel had been transposed.]

Squire Gray died 21 June 1921 in South Asheville. His death certificate noted that he was 61 years old, was married to Rachel Gray, and worked as a common laborer. He had been born in Rowan County to Orange Gray and Rachel Colbert. Squire was buried in South Asheville Cemetery.

Squire’s relationship, if any, to either Richard or Elvira Morgan was not noted in the 1880 census, but he may have been Viree’s cousin, a relative of her father Walker Colvert’s first wife, Elvira Gray.  (In fact, it is possible that Elvira Gray was Elvira Colvert’s birth mother.) Or, he may have been a relative of Walker himself, if Rachel Colbert were actually a Colvert.

Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Oral History

Grandma Becky.

I was stunned to learn that my grandmother had known her great-grandmother. “I didn’t know you knew her.” “Yes, indeed.”

She was a little, brown-skinned woman, had beautiful hair.  She was short.  Even shorter than I am.  Tiny.  And she used to keep us when Papa and Mama would go away, maybe for the day or overnight.  She’d always come down and keep us.  And, boy, we’d have a ball, ‘cause she’d let us do anything.  Our mother used to have a closet full of canned goods, you know.  Blackberries and dewberries and apples and all kinds of stuff.  And, honey, Grandma Becky would let us go in there and eat up a whole jar of peaches.  She just let us do anything.  We were crazy about her.

Rebecca Parks Colvert was born about 1839, probably in Iredell County NC. Her death certificate reports her parents as Jerry and Lettie Gray — probably the Jerry and Lett listed in the 1827 inventory of John A. Colvert’s estate. Becky was about 14 when she married Walker Colvert, and the couple probably lived apart until Emancipation. The 1860 slave schedule of Iredell lists ten slaves belonging to Walker’s owner W.I. Colvert, but none appear to be Becky or her children. (Was she owned by a Parks, one of John A. Colvert’s kin?) She reared Walker’s son John, and her own children Elvira and Lovina and Lewis, and then Walker’s grandson Lon. After her husband’s death in 1905, she left their farm north of town in Union Grove township and moved into Statesville.

Becky Colvert died 26 May 1915 at the Harrison Street home of her stepson John W. Colvert. She was about 76 years old.


Interview with Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved.