Yuma County, Colorado

COGenWeb Logo

Home Page Photograph Index Site Index

Yuma County Pioneer Photographs:

James Gray,  Fox

James cash-claimed 160 acres in 18, 4S 47W in 1886, and proved up 160 acres in section  6, 4S 46W  and section 1, 4S 47W  in 1887.    All three tracts were  on the Arickaree River north of Joes, Colorado.

In 1890 James Gray is listed in the Veterans Schedule for Dundy County, Nebraska.

In 1900 he's still in Dundy County, born November 1844 in Ireland, single, a herder.

In 1907 James Gray cash-claimed 40 acres in 1N 41W - Dundy County, Nebraska

1908 Wray "L.L. West, James Gray, and I.D. Long represented Haigler at the ball game here Tuesday."


The cash-claimer might be Haigler's "Uncle Jimmy Gray"
Civil War Veteran & One of the First Dundy County Residents
Jimmy Gray was the first white man to live in this area.  He came here after the Civil War.  He died in 1922 and is buried in the Haigler Cemetery.
"Jimmy Grey, one of the first settlers here spent his first winter in a dug out on what is now known as Richard Peterson's (in 1976).  A gunny sack was his door and rags soaked in oil was his only means of lighting.  Jimmy homesteaded on a farm in the vicinity of the Havlik farm.  At some time Jimmy had frozen his feet and had only stubs for feet.  Emmons spent some time with Jimmy when he was about fifteen or sixteen and tells that Jimmy had him put on a teakettle of water and make hot toddies for him.  After Jimmy had a few hot toddies in him, his conversation would flow.  He told of his past encounters with Indians, Civil War experiences and etc., but Emmons, being young did not listen as closely as he now wishes he had, for Jimmy had lots of history."
Stories by Emmons Adams as told to Joann Webster, Haigler Centennial Book - 1976
 Mrs. H. J. Farris, wrote to the Benkelman Post concerning Mr. Gray:  “When we moved to the Haigler section in 1908, I saw a lot of “Uncle” Jimmy Gray as I had lots of time on my hands while the horses were resting before we started back to the ranch.  “Uncle” Jimmy was an Indian Scout and had his feet frozen when being caught in blizzards.  And so he would entertain me by talks of the “Old West.”
 Jimmy Gray
As Told By Melvin Hendrickson
For Haigler Day
Celebrated April 30, 1986
Ladies and Gentlemen, and the school students.  I really appreciate having this opportunity of telling each of you some of the life living I had with Jimmy Gray.  My mother and I lived with him and she was a housekeeper of him.  I’ll tell you first that he was a civil war veteran and he worked for the Union Pacific Railroad Company until 1869, then he came to Southwest Nebraska.  He was a genuine cowboy, not a halfway one like I am.  He was a full fledged cowboy and he had a dugout that he had made out here on the Arikaree.  And he lived there lonely, but eventually a man came and shared the dugout with him and his name was Jake Haigler.  Jake Haigler, he came and stayed with him part of the time and he was other places.  And Jake decided that he wanted to have a cattle herd and which he was lucky enough to attain.  Then he hired Uncle Jimmy - - that’s what I always called him.  I even thought that he was my uncle.  He was his cowboy and took care of all of that herd which was called the Three Bar Cattle Ranch.  And so this is what I read about him, so now I’ll tell you of when my mother and I lived with him.  My mother was his housekeeper for I guess it was around two years, I can’t remember exactly, but I can remember this, when we first lived with him it was on what was called the Porter Ranch.  I remember that there were three people, two men and a lady who owned this ranch and they also had a grocery store that would be to the northwest part of this town.  Uncle Jimmy was the cowboy that took care of the cattle.  And I remember I would ride on the back of his horse behind the saddle.
I’d go fishing with him.  He’d take me along and he’d catch the fish and then I would string them, which I really enjoyed.
I remember he would hire people in the fall to help him put up hay.  So this was one of my jobs was when he would grind the sickles on an old grind stone, he’d say, “come on lad,” that’s what he’d always call me, he’d say “come on lad, we’re going to grind some more sickles.”  My job was to put water into that little can that was up on top of the grind stone and to keep it so that it was wet while he ground the sickles, which I very much enjoyed.
I remember one thing that he had that always took my eye.  He had a .44 caliber pistol and he made his own ammunition for it.  He had a bullet molder.  I remember seeing it very plainly.  He’d make the bullets then he’d fill the shells with powder then he’d put the bullets in it.  I’d love to see that pistol again.   I wouldn’t wonder that it’s somewhere in this vicinity.
But then something happened to one of the Porter men and then Uncle Jimmy wasn’t taking care of the ranch anymore.  Then we moved to Haigler.  We lived in a little house that’s two blocks down east on the north side of the highway down here.  And there’s where I started school the first year from here.  I remember Uncle Jimmy took me up to the principal and said, “now this lad, him and his mother is going to live with me, she is my housekeeper he’s going to be coming to school here.”  So I remember that very plain.
And I would come up here to the Haigler street fairs, I know some of you remember that very well.  And I forgot one thing that I aimed to tell a little bit ago that one of the main things that made him outstanding in my life.  When he brought a bill of groceries home there was always a sack of candy in there and of course that was always given to me.  That was my part of it which I really enjoyed.
Then I remember this after he took me to school.  I remember that I lived here at the time Halley’s Comet and he showed it to me and he said, “some day lad, you might be able to live long enough to get to see it again.”
So then after that my mother got married and we moved then to north and west of Benkelman and the last time I saw Uncle Jimmy was at the County Fair at Benkelman.  Our Dundy County Fair.  And I could tell that he was getting a little older, but I remembered the way he always wore his hat, the same familiar way.  This thing I do remember.  He said, “now come on lad, I want to buy you a treat.”  And so he took me and bought me an ice cream cone.  And of course you know you never forget the things you do for a kid.
I really appreciate having the chance to tell what I know to you school children about Jimmy Gray, because some of you have probably just barely heard of him and maybe some of you haven’t.  But I got to set my feet under his table for possibly a year and a half or two years.  Andthat’s all I have to say and thank you a hundred percent.
Chainsaw Carving
Wednesday, July 10, 1985 – The Benkelman Post
 In preparation for Haigler’s Centenneal in 1986, a “chainsaw sculptor” is creating a wooden likeness of one of the region’s earliest settlers.  “Uncle Jimmy” Gray.
 The chainsaw craftsman, Jim Baker of Holyoke, Colorado, began his work last week at the Wall farm west of Haigler.
 Within a few hours, the tree trunk began to show signs of Mr. Gray’s appearance.
 According to Laura Pearl Wall, the wooden sculpture of Gray will probably be placed in a small park located on Haigler’s Main Street.
 Mr. Gray, a Civil War settler, was one of the first white men in this territory.  He came to Nebraska in 1868 to work on the Union Pacific Railroad, and soon thereafter drifted to Southwest Nebraska.  He worked as a cowboy and Indian scout, and later did camp chores for the rancher for whom the community is named, Jake Haigler.
 He walked with a limp in later life after freezing portions of both of his feet in the blizzard of October 6, 1880.
 Mr. Gray continued to reside in Haigler in his later years, and is remembered by many of the community’s longtime residents.
 He passed away in 1922 and is buried in Haigler.
 Mr. Baker has done a number of carvings since moving to Holyoke in 1962.
 The only tools he uses for his carvings are a chainsaw with a woodcutting bar and a hammer and chisel.
Mr. Baker does much of his wood sculpting work close to home, but also travels to distant places in his van to work, with assignments taking him as far away as New York.
 He will work with any kind of tree, but prefers Chinese Elm because of the visible wood grain.
 After completing the wood carving, he treats the sculpture with drip oil.
 The focal point of the carving of Mr. Gray is his hat, which longtime residents say he wore almost all the time.
Haigler News – 1917
 Uncle Jimmie Gray will represent Haigler at the big National Peace Jubilee, to be held at Vicksburg Oct. 16 to 19.  This Jubilee is given in honor of the old soldiers.
 Trains will leave Lincoln October 14, at 5 P.M., reaching Vicksburg on Tuesday morning, Oct. 16, in time for breakfast.
Free transportation and entertainment while there will be furnished the Veterans.
 Up to the present time 583 of the old boys have properly certified to their fitness and intention to attend the Vicksburg celebration.
 Snow on June 1st
-- 1917 --
 All records for Dundy county were broken last Friday morning by a heavy snow.  The snow melted almost as fast as it fell, and it is estimated that about 5 inches of snow fell.  Uncle Jimmie Gray, the best authority on the past history of this locality, says this beats all records.
Printed in the Benkelman, NE Post, January 1923
James "Uncle Jimmy" Gray
"Uncle Jimmy" Gray passed away Wednesday morning in this city after an illness of but a few days from pneumonia. The remains were taken to Haigler Wednesday afternoon where interment took place yesterday afternoon.
Mr. Gray lived all alone for several years just outside Haigler until about a month ago when his house caught fire and was destroyed. He then came to Benkelman to make his home until his residence was reconstructed.
Mr. Gray was probably the oldest settler in Dundy County. He served in the Civil War and at the close followed the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad into Nebraska in 1868, where he followed the career of cowboy for several years, finally locating on a farm near Haigler.
(Researcher note: Available records show a birth date of 11-26-1840 and a death date of 1-3-1923.)

Back to Pioneer Photographs.

This page is maintained and copyrighted by Lee Zion.