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From Our Files

Gray was fortunate in times past to have the heart of a professional artist who worked most of his life as an illustrator for the Boston Transcript. Mr. Gilbert spent many summer vacations in Gray and visiting his friends here. During his visits he made sketches of Gray scenes and some twenty or so of these have been preserved thanks to Dr. Maynard Colley, who donated the originals to the Gray Historical Society in 1987. Other etchings in the collection were owned by Willard B. Sweetser of…

A short while ago, Gray Historical Society received two separate and unrelated inquiries regarding a volume of early vital records for the Town of Gray. Both researchers had hoped to learn the source of marriage dates/locations for their ancestors married in Gray in the early 1800's.

One dwelling house and five other buildings were destroyed by fire which broke out in the rear of George Steven’s Hardware store in this town about 5:30 this morning, causing an estimated loss of about $100,000 in merchandise, furniture, and building property. The progress of the fire was checked by the timely aid received from Portland, Auburn, and Falmouth, when it was stopped at the A.W. Harris residence which was directly in the line of the wind swept fire. Just as the village was about…

Our Thursday mornings, History Helpers are often immersed in projects to improve access to GHS collections. This morning, while hunting for a folder of early cemetery plans, volunteers encountered a trove of gems in our “oversize collection”.

Archival items that don’t fit into our usual organization of collection boxes on shelves, etc. may be file into extra-large file folders, with reference to OC A, OC B, etc. One such folder contained these beautiful family certificates.

The buildings shown in this photograph housed several businesses throughout the years. As noted in George T. Hill’s book History, Records, and Recollections of Gray Maine, about 1830 Daniel Hall built a brick building that is still standing today! Mr. Hall ran a dry goods and groceries business. A few years later, the business was passed into the hands of a brother.

Fernald David Sawyer, active citizen of Gray, ran one of the town’s first garages and, at times, a small manufacturing business on the site of the present NAPA Auto Parts. Our photo of the original building shows the signage for Goodrich Silvertowns.

I’m sitting in my Docent-at-a-Distance booth across from the Visirors’ Center on the pathway people take to see the animals. I’m not busy. Nobody wants the information the sign outside my window offers. The clumps of people pass me by, hardly sparing a glance for me. Sometimes a child, curious about everything, notices me, and I wave and smile at her (or him, but mostly her). They can’t see my smile, because I’m wearing a mask with a lot of pictures of animals on it. The fabric has moose and…

The COVID – 19 pandemic presented not only a global health crisis but also disrupted the daily lives of Gray residents. Between the stay at home orders, physical distancing, closure of many businesses and a variety of other restrictions, the impact was substantial.

Collection #33 in our Gray Historical Society research collection is entitled, simply, John Merrill Collection. The title alone does nothing to reveal the treasure within: about 35 small booklets, each capturing snippets in days long gone from Mr. Merrill’s life and times.

One could easily get lost in this set of diaries, each day with an entry of some small significance to the author. Here, quite randomly, are some of the musings captured within these volumes: