FAMILY STUFF [Continued]



Thanks very much indeed to Ernest Stevens, Jr. and NIGA (National Indian Gaming Association) for honoring Dr King and the four Native civil rights activists and leaders. I'm greatly pleased to be included in this group, some of whom I've met and with whom I've worked at various points.  Hunter Gray (John R Salter, Jr)


jgray.jpg (337649 bytes)


O Shenandoah! I long to hear you,
Way-aye, you rolling river
Across that wide and rolling river.
Away, we're bound away
'cross the wide Missouri!


John Gray  [ Ignace Hatchiorauquasha] and his wife, Marienne Neketichon [Mary Ann Charles] -- Mohawk Indians -- are great /great/ great/ grandparents of JHG (JRS).  Also shown is a special black arrowhead and a Holy Medal depicting St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), and patron saint (July 31) of many members of our family into present times.

John Gray is the direct ancestor "culture hero" of our specific family -- and our family draws from the traditions and examples of many worthy ancestors.  He was  Scotch/Iroquois, a St. Regis Mohawk, born ca. 1795 and died ca. 1843.  His father was William L. Gray, Scottish-American, of Cambridge, New York, who married into the Mohawks of Akwesasne following his service as an American Revolutionary War soldier, and who became an important interpreter.   John Gray's wife,   a Caughnawaga Mohawk,  Marienne Neketichon, was   born ca. 1800 and died in 1862. His legend, including his essence of presence, has played a key role in shaping my values and career.  In my "Reflections on Ralph Chaplin, the Wobblies, and Organizing in the Save the World Business -- Then and Now, " the lead article in The Pacific Historian, Summer 1986 issue ["Voices of Western Labor"], I comment:

"This pattern is suggested as early as 1824, when the devoutly Catholic, knife-fighting, half-blood Mohawk fur hunter from up-state New York, John Gray (Ignace Hatchiorauquasha)  rallied other Iroquois trappers in their successful labor disputes with frightened fur entrepreneur Alexander Ross in the Columbia and Snake River country -- and repeated such behavior in striking Peter Skene Ogden's camp a year later in their successful opposition to an exploitative  pricing system and quasi-indentured servitude."

In Don Berry's  fascinating account of those turbulent times, A Majority of Scoundrels: An Informal History of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company   (New York, Harper & Brothers, 1961), page 97, there is this paragraph depicting John Gray at Ogden's camp:

"Gray -- Ross had described him the year before   as  "a turbulent blackguard, a damned rascal" -- then launched into a denunciation of the policies of HBC [Hudson's Bay Company] in general and the men of the Columbia Department in particular:  ". . .The greatest villains in the World & if they were here this day I would shoot them. . ."

Merle Wells, Idaho State Historical Society and one of the region's most capable and empathetic historians, in his comprehensive essay, "Ignace Hatchiorauquasha," The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West, Vol. 7,  LeRoy R. Hafen, editor, [Glendale  CA, Arthur Clark Co., 1969], pages 161-175,  has commented with insight on John Gray's extraordinary role as a committed Native rights advocate -- and half-blood -- in the wild history of the Western fur trade:  "His unusual ability to deal with the whites enhanced his stature as an Iroquois chief. . .he stood out as a gifted leader of his people, understanding and following their ways in a manner that would have been difficult for a white man. . . he not only explored the wilderness. . .he also helped to bridge the cultural gap between Indians and whites during the years of the fur trade, even though much of the time the Iroquois and white trappers did not get along together at all well , and the whites often resented his position on the Indian side when there were differences in outlook.  More than that, his leadership of the Iroquois out of Ogden's camp, May 24, 1825, contributed substantially to the Hudson's Bay Company adoption of competitive pricing that limited the expansion of the St. Louis fur trade in the Oregon country."

Most of the Native people in the fur trapping band led by John Gray were Mohawk.  One family was not:  Joseph Annance, born ca. 1792, was a St. Francis Abenaki.  He was one of the three famous Annance brothers [the others were Francis Noel, born 1789 and Lewis (Louis) born 1794.]  Their grandfather was Gabriel Annance, a Mohawk, who came to St. Francis (Odanak, Quebec), and  married Marie Appoline Gill  -- daughter of the two white captives (Samuel Gill and Rosalie James), taken as very small children  by the Abenaki in a famous raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts at the beginning of the 1700s and raised as Indians by them.  Gabriel thus became a St. Francis Indian.  In 1759, when the genocidal Major Robert Rogers and his "Rangers" attacked and nearly destroyed St. Francis, Gabriel Annance was seriously wounded while defending the Abenaki community.

Peter Gray, born 1818 in  -- as family records and census indicate -- "the Rocky Mountains"  [just west of the Portneuf River in  southeastern Idaho -- in the upper end of a strategically secluded valley overlooked by high cedar-covered hills and very rough ridges ] was John Gray's oldest son.   In due course, in the late 1830s,  at French Settlement on the Missouri [later to be Westport and then  Kansas City], he developed a long-term relationship with Joseph Annance's daughter, Mary.  Their child, Louise ("Lizzie"), born 1840,  was my (JHG/JRS) great grandmother.

[My great grandmother, Louise (Lizzie) Gray [also known frequently as Louise Annance] wound up in the home of Joseph's ever-hospitable brother, Lewis (Louis) Annance -- in the wild, Moosehead Lake setting of Northern Maine.  She  moved in essentially exclusive Native circles.   She was never "legally" married, died young,  and her partner was a colorful figure with a legendary, extremely violent temper.  Her daughter, my grandmother, was Mary (Mamie) Gray,  partially raised by Lewis Annance. Mamie was never "legally" married, either, and her child, my father, was born Frank Gray.  Mamie's long-term partner, Dad's father and my paternal grandfather, was Thomas Taylor [of several names], a Wabanaki mix (several Abnaki tribes)  and a very wild and wooly roustabout indeed.

In 1841, John Gray was the principal guide for Father Peter De Smet, Father Nicolas Point, and other Jesuit missionaries in their famous journey out into the  Rocky Mountains and the Flathead country to establish the first Catholic missions in that vast region.  With "Broken Hand" Fitzpatrick and others, John Gray carved his name, "J. Gray" into Independence Rock. Further en route, Father Point, an accomplished artist, sketched John Gray and Marienne Gray.  He also watched as John Gray engaged in a famous (and successful)  fight with five grizzly bears -- simultaneously --  and  did a fine sketch of that dramatic conflict .   Father Point was very much impressed with John Gray who he observed "showed extraordinary courage and dexterity, especially when, on one occasion, he dared to attack five bears at once." [An extremely well done collection of most  of Father Point's art is contained in Wilderness Kingdom:  The Journals and Paintings of Father Nicolas Point  ( Indian Life in the Rocky Mountains, 1840-1847)   Translated and Introduced by Father Joseph P. Donnelly, S.J. with an Appreciation by John C. Ewers [New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1967.]

The legend of  John Gray,  the fur hunter and Native rights activist and organizer of what may well have been the first labor strikes in the American West, has carried  well through the generations.  My youngest son, Peter Gray Salter, is named for the long-ago boy, "born 1818, born in the Rocky Mountains."

For Gray activism in the Far Western fur trade, see

For Father Point's 1841 on-scene sketch of John Gray's historic battle with the five grizzly bears, see



Continued On Next Page  [Much more family stuff on the following pages.]