John D. Gray, Southern RR Builder and Industrialist

DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
John David Gray was born in London in 1808 and emigrated to Boston in 1818. He eventually moved to South Carolina where he and a brother began their careers in the 1820's on the frontier of railroad construction and manufacturing in Columbia, SC. They built sections of a state road and many public buildings. They owned a steamboat line that operated on the canal system in South Carolina in the 1830's. They received a major contract for the construction of part of the South Carolina Railroad, the first railroad in the South.

John Gray moved to Florida and built four railroads, including the Tallahassee Railroad.

The next move was to Macon, Ga. to manage the Monroe Railroad (later the Macon & Western RR). He became president of the road and finished the route to Griffin and most of the grading to Atlanta. He constructed the bulk of the Western & Atlantic RR from Dalton to Chattanooga, including the tunnel at Tunnel Hill, the first extensive tunnel in the Southeast. He was the prime mover and contractor of the Atlanta & West Point RR and the Augusta & Savannah RR. He built sections of the Muscogee RR, the North & South RR, the Mobile & Girard RR and the Upson County RR.

In Alabama, he built the Opelika to Columbus branch of the Montgomery & West Point RR and the seventy-foot railroad cut, reputed to be one of the deepest railroad cuts in the world at the time, at Brock's Gap on the North & South Alabama RR. He constructed the line of the East Tennessee & Georgia RR from Cleveland to Chattanooga and the tunnel through Missionary Ridge.

Gray also worked on the Mississippi Central RR and several other roads.

He purchased land in northern Georgia on South Chickamauga Creek and established a company town (Graysville, in Catoosa County), combining mining, manufacturing, agriculture and transportation. His Graysville Mining & Manufacturing Company mined and processed lime, built furniture and barrels, and he created a distillery and a gristmill.

When the war came, he quickly began manufacturing guns, under the names of John D. Gray & Company and with the Columbus Armory. He turned his furniture factory into a war manufacturing establishment, and he established the Montgomery Rolling Mill on the Alabama River in Montgomery. He owned and developed the Chatata Lead Mines near Charleston, Tn. for the CS Government. He assisted in the establishment of a private niter works at a cave in Kingston, Bartow County, which was later take over by the Confederate Ordnance Department.

At the request of LtCol. Sims, he surveyed the iron and coal supplies in Alabama and Georgia and manufacturers capable of casting iron for use in constructing railroad cars.
http://csa-railroads.com/Essays/Orignial Docs/NA/NA,_RRB_7-16A-64.htm
http://csa-railroads.com/Essays/Orignial Docs/NA/NA,_RRB_7-16B-64.htm
http://csa-railroads.com/Essays/Orignial Docs/NA/NA,_RRB_8-11-64.htm

He lost all his assets during 1864 and 1865, but began again after the war, reconstructing the Columbus, Ga. Dillingham Street Bridge. Then came the incorporation of the Atlanta Mining & Rolling Mill Co. and construction of other railroads. He died in Graysville in 1878.

This bio is based on a Phd dissertation by Margaret Obear Calhoon and Georgia State University in 2001.
 

Lubliner

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Very thought provoking letters along with your explanation. Thank you.
It is curious how experienced Mr. Gray is and how he is willing by 1864 to assist in any effort of the Quartermasters' Department. If he had removed himself entirely from the oversight of railroads then the confederacy lost a good man in that department. By going into the Nitre Bureau Department where I assume he was committed to, the success of that industry up to the end for supplying ammunition is known. I was wondering if you have a link to the thesis of Ms. Calhoun at the Georgia State University/. Thank you again.
Lubliner.
 

DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
It is curious how experienced Mr. Gray is and how he is willing by 1864 to assist in any effort of the Quartermasters' Department. If he had removed himself entirely from the oversight of railroads then the confederacy lost a good man in that department. By going into the Nitre Bureau Department where I assume he was committed to, the success of that industry up to the end for supplying ammunition is known. I was wondering if you have a link to the thesis of Ms. Calhoun at the Georgia State University/. Thank you again.
Lubliner.
Gray never worked for the Ordnance Department directly; he developed several projects and then sold one to the Government (lead mine) and was not the owner of the nitre cave. Most of his vouchers in Fold3 are for iron products -- axes, picks, shovels, parts for small arms, etc.

He eventually offered to contract with Sims to make at least 200 cars, but this was in late 1864 and I have no evidence that he was able to build any. I think Sherman changed everyone's plans in Georgia.

I have never found a link to the dissertation. My work is based on her article in New Georgia Encyclopedia, FindaGrave and another site.
 

Lubliner

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Gray never worked for the Ordnance Department directly; he developed several projects and then sold one to the Government (lead mine) and was not the owner of the nitre cave. Most of his vouchers in Fold3 are for iron products -- axes, picks, shovels, parts for small arms, etc.

He eventually offered to contract with Sims to make at least 200 cars, but this was in late 1864 and I have no evidence that he was able to build any. I think Sherman changed everyone's plans in Georgia.

I have never found a link to the dissertation. My work is based on her article in New Georgia Encyclopedia, FindaGrave and another site.
Surprisingly how the confederacy would exempt this man from service when he could have been such an asset. Even by election or request early on, he knew the railroad industry by all the projects previous to the war. I was curious to know why he never crossed the Mississippi and worked out of New Orleans after the war, or any other place before. Enough already on his slate?
Lubliner.
 

DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
Surprisingly how the confederacy would exempt this man from service when he could have been such an asset. Even by election or request early on, he knew the railroad industry by all the projects previous to the war. I was curious to know why he never crossed the Mississippi and worked out of New Orleans after the war, or any other place before. Enough already on his slate?
Lubliner.
He was 52 when conscription started, so age kept him safe from the battlefield. He as probably viewed as an asset running his industrial activities and starting new ones. He had founded a town and lived there for most of 30 years and died there -- probably had had enough traveling and was not interested in leaving after the war with so much to do in Georgia.
 
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