Chair: Bill Hall – yru227@yahoo.com

Members: Gary Foster, Elaine Szendrei, Laurence Szendrei

Meetings take place on the 2nd Tuesday of each month.

 

gray

Gray is a town in Cumberland County, Maine, United States. The population was 7,761 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Portland–South Portland–Biddeford, Maine metropolitan statistical area. Gray is home to regional headquarters for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, which maintains a fish hatchery and wildlife park. It is also home to a Weather Forecast Office for NOAA’s National Weather Service, which issues forecasts and weather warnings for most of New Hampshire and southern Maine.

The area was granted on March 27, 1736, by the Massachusetts General Court to a group from Boston. In 1737, the township was laid out and roads cleared, with the first settlers arriving in the spring of 1738. But during the ongoing French and Indian Wars, the settlement was attacked in the spring of 1745 by Indians, who killed cattle and burned the meetinghouse and all dwellings. Inhabitants fled to other towns. In 1751, the village was resettled, but wiped out again in May 1755.

Consequently, Fort Gray was built in 1755. It featured a blockhouse measuring 50 feet (15 m) long by 25 feet (7.6 m) wide, set within a garrison palisade 100 feet (30 m) long by 75 feet (23 m) wide. The town had been without a name until about 1756, when it began to be called New Boston. On June 19, 1778, New Boston Plantation would be incorporated as Gray after Thomas Gray, a proprietor.

Gray had many farms and some quarries. Other industries included a gristmill, 12 sawmills, a tannery, granite and marble works, carriage and sleigh manufacturer, and shuttle maker. Along Collyer Brook, Samuel Mayall established in 1791 the first successful water-powered woolen mill in North America. British woolen guilds had prohibited the production of goods in the colonies and tried to prevent British technology from being put to use in competition against them. Mayall smuggled out of England plans for machinery hidden in bales of cloth meant for trade with the Indians. When the guilds learned of his deception, they tried at least twice to kill him. They sent him a hat in which were hidden pins laced with poison, and then a box with loaded pistols rigged to fire when opened. Suspicious of the packages, Mayall avoided an untimely death. His daughters Mary and Phanela took over the mills when he died in 1831, and built the Lower Mill in 1834. The Mayalls retained ownership until about 1879. The business closed in 1902. The ruins of the mill and associated structures are still visible to this day and are open to the public.

During the Civil War, a Confederate soldier’s body was accidentally sent to Gray. Instead of sending it away, the people of Gray gave it a proper burial and funded a gravestone marked “The Stranger”. A statue dedicated to the “Unknown Soldier” was later erected in Gray Village Center. Every year on Memorial Day, the Unknown Soldier is respected with a Confederate flag marking the grave. Gray devoted a lot of emotion and men to the Civil War, having sent proportionately more men to war than any other town in Maine. There are more than 178 Union soldiers and one Confederate buried in the Gray Village Cemetery.