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Gray Family Materials

Identifier: MC 1618

Scope and Content Note

The collection includes three volumes created by Virginia between 1863 and 1872 while she lived in Princeton and Little Rock, Arkansas. The first volume, her diary, elucidates her experience living in Princeton from 1863 to 1866. The second dates to around 1863 and features her artwork, including pencil sketches, small paintings of flowers, as well as photographs of family and friends. The third tells the story of her son, Carl, which is entitled, "The Diverting History of Little Tarley Gray." It spans from his birth in 1867 to 1872, with a final entry by Carl in 1887, six months after his mother's death. The collection also includes correspondence and booklets concerning the Gray family created by Bill Boggess, a researcher from Naples, Florida. The ongoing correspondence between Boggess and the University of Arkansas was initiated in 2003 and concerns his research on the Grays. Two of his booklets incorporate research on Virginia, Oliver, and Carl Raymond Gray, while a third covers Senator Borland.


  • 1863-2006


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Access Information

Please call (479) 575-8444 or email at least two weeks in advance of your arrival to ensure availability of the materials.

Use Information

Restrictions Apply: For preservation purposes, the original newspaper articles in the envelope in Box 1, Folder 2 are restricted, please use copies provided. Also, please handle the album of artwork (Box 1, Folder 3) and "The Diverting History..."(Box 1, Folder 4) with care, as the bindings are extremely fragile.

No Interlibrary Loan.

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical Note

Virginia Davis was born in Cushing, Maine, in 1834. She attended school in Maine, and later in Boston, and traveled to Europe briefly in 1857. On May 28, 1858, she married Oliver Crosby Gray (1832-1905), from nearby Lincoln County, who had studied Colby College. They had three children, including Carl Raymond Gray (1867-1939), president of Union Pacific Railroad from 1920 to 1937. The family moved to Monticello, Minnesota, and briefly lived in Mississippi before moving to Princeton, Dallas County, Arkansas, in 1860. There, they taught at Princeton Female Academy. Oliver joined the Confederate States of America cavalry from 1861 until 1864, when he resigned and briefly joined the Confederate Navy. He was imprisoned by the Union Army in late 1864 and released in March 1865.

In 1867 the family moved to Little Rock, Arkansas,where Oliver taught at St. Johns’ College, a Masonic institution. From 1871 to 1874 he served as its president. During the "Brooks-Baxter War" in 1874, he supported Elisha Baxter, arming his students to support the governor-elect. Following this, Oliver was appointed chair of the Mathematics and Civil Engineering Department at the new Arkansas Industrial University (now University of Arkansas), in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Virginia was appointed chair of the art department the same year. She retained that position for six years, 1874-1881. Virginia died in 1886.

Oliver continued his prestigious career by serving both as mayor of Fayetteville and superintendent of the newly-formed Fayetteville Public Schools in 1886. As a member of the first school board, Oliver had been a founder of the first public school in Fayetteville. In 1889, he married Mary Melbourne Borland Beattie (1850-1938), a widow with thre children, and the daughter of former U.S. Senator Solon Borland of Little Rock. Oliver moved back to Little Rock in 1895 to serve as superintendent of the Arkansas School for the Blind. He held that position until 1899, when he accepted a commission at the Speers-Langford Military Institute in Searcy, White County, Arkansas. In 1901, he returned to Little Rock and regained the superintendent position at the School for the Blind, which he served as until his death in 1905.

Virginia Davis Gray’s civil war diary was published in 1983. See Carl H. Moneyhon, editor, “Life in Confederate Arkansas: The Diary of Virginia Davis Gray, 1863-1865, Part I. Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol.42 (Spring 1983), pp. 47-85; Ibid., Part II, Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. 42 (Summer 1983), pp. 134-169.


1 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Arrangement of the Papers

Materials are arranged by topic.

Acquisition Information

The Gray Family Materials were donated to the Special Collections Department, University of Arkansas Libraries, on August 2, 2005, by Nancy K. Stendahl of Franklin, Tennessee.

Related Materials

Please note that other repositories around the country has materials relating to the Gray Family, including Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan, Colby College, and the Arkansas History Commission and State Archives.

Processing Information

Processed by Matthew Lammers; completed in December 2006



Gray Family Materials
Matthew Lammers
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Department Repository

University of Arkansas Libraries
365 N. McIlroy Avenue
Fayetteville AR 72701 United States
(479) 575-8444