Biography of Josiah L. Gray

Josiah L. Gray’s tenure as Deputy Sheriff of Lee County, beginning in December 1890, embodies a narrative of dedication and service rooted in the heart of Dixon, where he has made his home. Born in 1844 in Ogle County, Illinois, Gray’s life journey took him from the fields of Lee Center as a farmer and skilled house-building mechanic to the battlefields of the Civil War, where he served with distinction in Sherman’s Army. His post-war years saw him contributing to community and country, including efforts to quell Indian uprisings in the West. A descendant of immigrants from Ireland and Wales, Gray’s life story is interwoven with themes of migration, labor, and military service. His deep Republican roots and active involvement in the Grand Army of the Republic highlight a lifelong commitment to civic duty and the values of perseverance and solidarity forged on the front lines and carried into peacetime pursuits.

Josiah L. Gray, Deputy Sheriff of Lee County, is now a resident of Dixon, and has made his residence here since December 1890, when he came here to serve in his present position. He had been living in Lee Center for forty-two years, and was only five years old when he went with his parents to that place. He was born at Leaf River, Ogle County, this State, October 24, 1844, to John and Mary (Powell) Gray, natives of Ireland and Wales, respectively. He was variously engaged as a farmer and mechanic at Lee Center, and was a successful house-building mechanic for a good many years.

The gentleman of whom we write enlisted in the War of the Rebellion in Company D, Fifteenth Illinois Infantry, and fought with his regiment in Sherman’s Army and was with him when he was driving Johnson’s Army North and was with him at the Grand Review at Washington City. He was then sent West to Kansas and Nebraska to suppress the Indian troubles, the regiment being stationed at Kearney, and on September 26, 1865, was honorably discharged at Leavenworth, Kan. Since that time, he has lived in this county, with the exception of a four years’ residence in Iowa. Mr. Gray is the youngest of ten children, born to his worthy parents, all of whom are yet living but two. The father, although born in Ireland, came of English parents, his father, Henry Gray, having been sent there from England as a collecting agent and died there. John Gray had come to Canada when a young man and there married his wife and helpmate. In 1841, they came to Ogle County, this State, and in 1849 came to Lee County and bought a farm in Lee Center Township, and there the father passed away in 1889, at the age of ninety-eight years, and the wife died in 1868 at the age of sixty-two years. They were valued and consistent members of the Baptist Church. Mr. Gray served in the War of the Canadian Rebellion while in Canada, and in politics was a sound Republican. The subject of this notice was a stalwart adherent to the Republican party, as were also his five brothers, three of whom served bravely in the late war. John C., of the Seventy-fifth Illinois Infantry, served about one year; William H. was in the Seventh Illinois Cavalry for the same length of time; and James was in the Thirteenth Illinois Infantry, in which he served for three years and four months, re-enlisting in the Seventh Illinois Cavalry for one year more. He was badly wounded by a bursting shell and left on the field for dead. He was found and taken care of, and is at present Postmaster at Lee Center. Our subject is one of the prominent and leading members of the Grand Army of the Republic, No. 229, of Dixon, a society in which all old soldiers like to meet their comrades.


Biographical Publishing Company, Portrait and biographical record of Lee County, Illinois, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens, together with biographies of all the governors of the state, and of the presidents of the United States, Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1892.

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