The name is Gray -- and not Grey.  The erroneous Grey turns up on occasion -- having orginated in the spelling mistake consistently made by fur entrepreneur Alexander Ross in his Journal [Snake River Expedition.] This was during Ross' extremely acrimonious -- and for him very traumatic -- 1824 experiences with John Gray and other Mohawk Iroquois and  other Native persons in John Gray's band of fur hunters.  

Most fundamentally, the pervasive, primary spelling of the name at Akwesasne [St. Regis] and its collateral connections -- from the introduction of the name in the latter 1700s right into this contemporary moment -- is Gray.

As an example, the 1887 Census of the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation lists thirteen households with the name Gray.  There are none with Grey.

The name Gray comes directly from John Gray's father, William L. Gray, Scottish-American from Cambridge, New York.  Following his youthful service in the Revolutionary War [he enlisted at 17],  William Gray went into the St. Lawrence region, married a young Mohawk woman, and established himself at what then became known as Gray's Mills [now Hogansburg, New York] on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation [Akwesasne.] [An extraordinarily bizarre account in the relatively recent Children of the Fur Trade: Forgotten Metis of the Pacific Northwest [John C. Jackson], has William Gray being captured as a small child, raised by the Mohawks, and becoming a chief! This is utter nonsense.]

William Gray, in addition to his business interests, was a major interpreter on behalf of the Mohawks in their dealings with New York State and the Americans in general.  As an example, here are excerpts -- the opening and the concluding portion -- of the Seven Nations Treaty, May 31, 1796, in which William Gray played an active role:


At a treaty held at the city of New York, with the Nations or Tribes of
Indians, denominating themselves the Seven Nations of Canada; Abraham Ogden, Commissioner, appointed under the authority of the United States, to hold the Treaty; Ohnaweio, alias Goodstream, Teharagwanegen, alias Thomas
Williams, two Chiefs of the Caghnawagas; Atiatoharongwan, alias Colonel
Lewis Cook, a Chief of the St. Regis Indians, and William Gray, Deputies,
authorized to represent these Seven Nations or Tribes of Indians at the
Treaty, and Mr. Gray, serving also as Interpreter; Egbert Benson, Richard
Varick and James Watson, Agents for the State of New York; William Constable
and Daniel M'Cormick, purchasers under Alexander Macomb:

                      .      .     .     .      .

In testimony whereof, the said commissioner, the said deputies, the said
agents, and the said William Constable and Daniel McCormick, have hereunto,
and to two other acts of the same tenor and date, one to remain with the
United States, another to remain with the State of New York, and another to
remain with the said Seven Nations or tribes of Indians, set their hands and
seals, in the city of New York, the thirty-first day of May, in the
twentieth year of the independence of the United States, one thousand seven
hundred and ninety-six.

Abraham Ogden, [L. S.]
Egbert Benson, [L. S.]
Richard Varick, [L. S.]
James Watson, [L. S.]
William Constable, [L. S.]
Daniel McCormick, [L. S.]
Ohaweio, alias Goodstream, his x mark, [L. S.]
Otiatokarongwan, alias Col. Lewis Cook, his x mark, [L. S.]
William Gray, [L. S.]
Teharagwanegen, alias Thos. Williams, his x mark, [L. S.]

Signed, sealed, and delivered, in the presence of

Samuel Jones, recorder of the city of New York,
John Tayler, recorder of the city of Albany,
Joseph Ogden Hoffman, attorney general of the State of New York.


Note by Hunter Gray:  Although composition could shift slightly as the chronological river flowed on, the basic historical composition of the Seven Nations -- bound by traditional Roman Catholic ties vis-a-vis seven missions -- was Mohawks of Akwesasne [St. Regis], Hurons of Lorette,  Mohawks of Caughnawaga, St. Francis Abenakis, Abenakis of Odanak, Algonquins of Oka, and Mohawks of Oka.


At no point did John Gray ever use the name Grey.  The only variant in his name came from his French Jesuit colleagues -- e.g., Fathers Peter John De Smet and Nicolas Point -- who often recorded him as Jean Gray.  When he carved his name onto Independence Rock in 1841, John Gray did it as "J. Gray."  John Gray did, on occasion, use Ignace Hatchiorauquasha [combining his Saint's Name, Ignace [St. Ignatius of Loyola] with his own Native name.

These are the names of the core group of Mohawk fur hunters in John Gray's band, as recorded by William Kittson, assistant to fur entrepreneur Peter Skene Ogden, at the moment of the dramatic Native strike and withdrawal from Ogden's Hudson's Bay Company operation on May 24/25, 1825, near what is now N.E. Utah and S.E. Idaho.  Forthwith after Kittson recorded these names, John Gray's strike action was joined by the other members of his band:  Joseph Annance [St. Francis Abenaki] and these other Native persons:  Montour, Antoine Clement, Prudhomme, and Sansfacon.  [Cited from Don Berry, A Majority of Scoundrels:  An Informal History of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company [New York: Harper and Brothers, 1961.]

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John Gray died about 1843 at French Settlement/Westport -- knifed to death.  The   Jackson County, Missouri Census for 1850 lists the following surviving member of his family who were then living at home.  Others had scattered widely.

Gray, Mary A.                   Age 50                    Born Canada

            Peter                      Age 32                    Born Rocky Mountains

          Mitchell                  Age 20                    Born Rocky Mountains

          Cecile                     Age 15                    Born Rocky Mountains

          Thomas                  Age 11                    Born Missouri


Link here to the extensive biographical Narrative of Hunter Gray [John R. Salter, Jr.] which discusses my personal background and that of my father, John R. Salter [Frank Gray.]

For Gray family activism in the Far Western fur trade, see

















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