Biography of William C. Gray
Oneida County, NY Biographies





The papers and magazines of the present day are full of suggestions for attaining success in business. A careful analyzation of all such will indicate the fact that intelligently directed industry and perseverance are at the basis of all honorable advancement and that the self made successful men of the present day are those who have based their rise upon diligence and determination. Such has been the record of William C. Gray, now proprietor of the Renovating and Carpet Cleaning Works of Utica. He was born at Frankfort Hill, Herkimer county, New York, May 3, 1852, a son of Louis H. and Elizabeth (Wineur) Gray. The mother died when her son William was but four years old and when the father enlisted for service in the Federal army in 1861, the boy was bound out to a Herkimer county farmer, with whom he remained until twenty one years of age, working in the fields through the summer months and attending school in the winter seasons. He early came to realize the value of earnest, persistent effort, and laudable ambition prompted him to take advantage of every opportunity that came his way.

On attaining his majority he removed to Utica and entered the employ of John O. Jones, a grocer, who was succeeded by the present firm of John O. Jones Sons. Mr. Gray remained in that establishment for two years and then opened a meat market on John street on the little plot of ground where now stands the bust of Horatio Seymour. The business was successfully conducted for two years, after which Mr. Gray closed out the store and purchased the small renovating shop of Thomas McBride, then on Hotel street, taking Mr. George D. Martin into partnership. Here the firm continued four years, during which time the business rapidly increased, demanding more spacious quarters, so they erected a three story building on the corner of James and Nelson streets, where they continued for twenty two years. In 1906 Mr. Gray purchased the old Oneida County jail and converted it into what is his present large factory on 174 Mohawk street. Mr. Gray has also a manufacturing plant at Ilion and one at Rochester, which is even of a greater Capacity than the Utica works. He has reduced carpet cleaning to an art. It is a business requiring modern machinery and experienced operators who have been originators. Mr. Gray has closely studied the business, its needs and its possibilities and is the patentee of most of the machinery used in his model establishment. His inventive genius has resulted in the production of machinery that cleans, a new process that removes every particle of dust and yet does no injury to carpets or floors. It is a compressed air process and their establishment is the only plant in Utica and Rochester indorsed by the New York Journal of Health. The plant is forty eight by one hundred and thirty feet, equipped with the most modern machinery, and the business extends throughout the entire state. Three auto delivery trucks are used besides horses and wagons for local collection and distribution. Mr. Gray has the contract for cleaning the carpets and rugs at the state capitol of Albany and an extensive patronage is accorded him in various parts of New York. He is also the inventor and manufacturer of feather mattresses and during the first year in which he placed his mattress upon the market (1910) he sold three thousand of them. showing that he is giving to the public something of value and worth. As he has prospered in his undertakings he has made judicious investments in property and is now an extensive owner of city real estate and several apartment buildings.

On September 10, 1878, Mr. Gray was married to Miss Benita L. Ross, of Newport, New York, and they have three children: Ross, born in May, 1892, now deceased; Evelina M., born May 28, 1895; and Alma Ruth, whose birth occurred in 1897. Mr. Gray and his family are members of the Tabernacle Baptist church, with which he has been identified for a quarter of a century, taking active part in various lines of church work and serving for many years as a teacher in the Sunday school. Mrs. Gray, deeply interested in church matters and active in social affairs, is first vice president of the Woman's Christion Temperance Union and holds the same office in the ladies auxiliary of the Sons of Veterans. Mr. Gray organized the Baraea Society in the church and is also a member of the Sons of Veterans Camp, in which he has held all of the chairs, while for two terms he served as division chaplain of the state association. His political views were long in accord with the principles of the republican party but for some years he has been an advocate of the prohibition party and was its candidate for mayor several times, although without expectation of being elected. His influence is always on the side of right and progress, of justice, truth, reform and improvement, and while he has builded wisely and well in a business way, in character building he has done equally efficient and admirable work.

From:
History of Oneida County, New York
From 1700 to the present time
of some of its prominent men and pioneers.
By: Henry J. Cookinham
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago 1912


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