R.C. Gray (1822-1888)

R.C. Gray
R.C. Gray

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

R.C. Gray's name appears in the Guest Register of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, 1886.

Gould's History of River Navigation:
"Captain [Richard] R.C. Gray was born in Alleghany [sic, recurring] City, Pennsylvania, on September 24th, 1822, and died at Fifth Avenue Hotel, New York, on May 28th 1888. When he was quite young he went to St. Louis, Missouri, and was engaged with Collier, Pettis Co. in the wholesale grocery business, and was there two or three years.

Then he went as one of the clerks on the steamer Louisville running between St. Louis and New Orleans, and then returned to his old home in Alleghany City.

In 1841 he went on the river with his brother, U.C. Gray, one of the clerks of the steamer Lehigh, and ran from Pittsburgh to St. Louis and New Orleans, and in 1842 his brother U.C. Gray took command of the steamer Evaline and R.C. Gray went with him as clerk. In 1843, he went on the steamer Alleghany with Captain William Dean as clerk, running between Pittsburgh and St. Louis, for one season, and then he bought Captain Dean's interest and took command of the steamer Alleghany and ran here in the packet line between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. In 1847, he built the steamer Pennsylvania and took charge of her and run her from Pittsburgh to St. Louis for a few years; sold her and built the Paul Anderson and run her from Pittsburgh to St. Louis and New Orleans. Then in 1856 he built the steamer Denmark and took her to St. Louis and run her between St. Louis and St. Paul, as one of the boats forming the line between St. Louis and St. Paul. He also built the steamers Sam Young, Latrobe, and Altoona, for low water boats between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, to connect with Pennsylvania Railroad. In 1860, he built the steamer Hawkeye State at Pittsburgh and took her to St. Louis and with the Denmark and Hawkeye State, in connection with steamer Canada, owned and commanded by Captain James Ward, Steamer Pembina, owned and commanded by Captain R.C. Gray.

Thomas Griffith, and other steamers, they organized the Northern Line Packet Co. running between St. Louis and St. Paul. He then built for the same line the steamers Burlington, Muscatine, Davenport, Minneapolis, Dubuque, Minnesota, Dan Hine, and Lake Superior.

In 1863 he, in connection with Captain M.W. Beltzhoover, established Gray's Iron Line steamers Little Giant and Rover, and then building the Ironsides, Iron Mountain, Iron Age, Iron Duke and Resolute. These boats were engaged in towing barges transporting iron and steel rails and Pittsburgh's manufactured articles on them from Pittsburgh to points on the Ohio and Mississippi River and tributaries, and iron ore on their return trips.

At the time of Captain Gray's death, he was president of the People's National Bank, Pittsburgh, and a director of the Keystone Bank and also director of the Boatman's Insurance Co., and M. and M. Insurance Co. and of the Pittsburgh Alleghany and Manchester Passenger Railway and of the Allegheny General Hospital and largely interested in the Black Diamond Steel Works. None knew Captain Gray but to honor and admire his nobility of character and his genial sympathizing nature.

His record illustrates his enterprise, and those who knew him well, will bear willing testimony to his benevolence, of which he has left the best possible proof, in the liberal contribution for the support of the Allegheny General Hospital, as well as the many previous contributions to that and many other worthy objects of charity.

He was unostentatious and retiring and only those who knew him well could appreciate the quiet, genial exuberance of his nature.

He was firm and preserving in his purposes and the large fortune he left abundantly proves the sagacity of his preceptions. Among all the old boatmen who have launched their barges and spread their sails on the broad waters of eternity, I knew of none that have left better evidence of their ability to safely and successfully resume and conduct the voyage which awaits all mariners who weigh anchor and cross the dark river. Capt. Gray never married, but was a great admirer of ladies, and very popular with all and a genial companion. He passed away at the age of 66, mourned by all who knew his many virtues.

Last updated: March 18, 2017

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