Letter about the old Gray Homestead

Ella Mae Gray Grubbs
to Larry Pearce regarding Gray Ancestors

Dateline: Cheswick, PA
June 29, 2005

Dear Larry,
4:30 a.m. – Have been awake – so decided I’d write my thoughts. I think the story behind your statement that “my father [William Gray] bailed your grandfather [Paul B. Gray] out” goes like this: Uncle Paul didn’t have work and needed money for his family – so Daddy had him build some little houses for him in Bairdford, as the farm ran over to the miners’ properties. There were two houses square with four rooms, a porch in front and back of house, and a “path.” One house had three rooms and a little porch, and two houses were two-story houses, all built without cellars. In that way, Daddy provided Uncle Paul with work and an income as Daddy rented the houses. When [Brother] Harold [Gray] got married he took the first house (square with four rooms) and dig out and made a cellar and added a bath and bedroom. When I got married, I rented the second house (square with four rooms) for one and a half years at $10 per month, and then we moved into our own house. Then Harold moved that square house behind his house and used it as a garage.

Our house was a ready cut house – we had [my brother] David help with foundation – then Uncle Paul and his friend put up the frame to the house – then from there [my husband] Wilson finished the house.

Going back to the five houses Uncle Paul built for Daddy – I’m not sure how it was planned – but my story would be that Daddy had Uncle Paul build the house that [Nephew] Kenny [Gray] now lives in (but of course Kenny has made additions and improvements) – Daddy paid expenses of building materials and wages and then they sold the house – As long as I can remember, Smales lived there until Kenny bought it.

Daddy had Uncle Paul build him a good-sized chicken house – any repairs, etc. – which made an income for Uncle Paul – so in that way, I guess you could say, “Daddy bailed Uncle Paul out.” Question: Where did Daddy get the money? He was just a poor farmer.

As for the Gray homestead – I didn’t finish my story after I said that they started out in a log house, then they built a house on the sight of the present house. Then, they added to the front of that house two more rooms, two-story style – then they tore down part of the old house and moved the newer rooms back where the old house was torn down. When that section of the house was being moved, Aunt Mary Bryce stayed at the house during the moving. Then the final house was finished and that is the way it looks today. The old section in the back and the two-story, four rooms, in the front of the house. This is the house that the several reunions were held in the probably 1936-37 years.

Every summer Aunt Mary Bryce came to the farm from East Liberty. When I was older and had a house and family of my own – I often thought how difficult for Mom to have all the farm work and her family and have Aunt Mary there. One thing, when she left in the fall – all Daddy’s overalls were mended; but I never remember Aunt Mary helping with anything in the kitchen. Daddy had a truck, and quite often Aunt Mary had to be taken over to Bairdford so she could go to Pittsburgh for meetings. She was on the board for Columbia Hospital, the orphan’s home in Valencia, and one other organization that I can’t remember.

Speaking of Daddy driving the truck, there came a time that each driver had to apply for a driver’s license. Daddy neglected to do so – and so it came to the time he couldn’t drive anymore, but this was after Aunt Mary didn’t come out to the farm. In her later years, she was in a home. I guess today yu would say a personal care home. She died in 1940.

Guess I’ll go back to bed. Hope you can read and understand this letter.

Addendum: Hello! Had a pretty good sleep. One other thing I need to clear. It is only in the house that I go without the walker. Janet and [her husband] Bud bought me a neat walker – the wheels are large and they move easily – even pretty good on rough places, and it has a seat which is used quite often (say I meet someone when I go for the mail). It is real difficult to stand any length of time.

I did enjoy your visit – your dear Mom [Ruth] looks real good. I pray that she may always be able to get around. I enjoyed [your wife] Susan and was so glad she made herself at home, stretching out for a little shut eye. Come again.

Love in Jesus,
[signed] Ella Mae Grubbs

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