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Burt Gray Vance

Obituary of James Walter Gray, Greenville County, South Carolina.

James Walter Gray, master in equity of Greenville County, S. C., died at his home, in Greenville, on December 5, 1914, after an illness of several months. During this time, however, he continued to discharge the duties of his office and made a gallant fight against his disease.

James W. Gray was born in Hamburg, Edgefield County, S. C., December 15, 1845, of distinguished ancestry, and he entered the Confederate service at sixteen years of age in May, 1861, as a private in Company B, Hampton Legion. In 1863 he was elected second lieutenant of Company D, 27th Georgia Volunteers, and surrendered with the rank of captain at Greensboro, N. C., with Johnston's army, April 26, 1865. Entering Wofford College, he graduated with the class of 1869 and then read law under the able and distinguished Armistead Burt, of Abbeville, S. C., and, upon admission to the bar, located in Greenville to practice. In 1875 he married Miss Lillie Vance, daughter of Dr. Frank Vance, of Cokesbury, S. C.

Captain Gray was a member of the Democratic convention which nominated Wade Hampton for Governor in 1870, and after a spirited campaign he was selected as a member of the legislature. He thus became a member of the famous "Wallace House," which withdrew from participation with the Republican members in the Statehouse and held its sessions in old Carolina Hall until President Hayes recognized Hampton as Governor, when Chamberlain and the Republicans withdrew from the Statehouse and white supremacy was reestablished in South Carolina.

Captain Gray was made brigadier of the State militia and so continued until the old musters ceased to be. He was several times elected to the State legislature, was clerk of the House of Representatives several times, and was also a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1895 from Greenville County, a body composed of many able and distinguished Carolinians. He resumed the practice of law at Greenville in 1901 and was elected master in equity for Greenville County, to which he was reelected twice, and was serving his third term at the time of his death. The patience, ability, and uniform courtesy which he displayed as master earned him added respect and the love of both the public and the legal profession.

Captain Gray was a man of sympathy, and his efforts were always enlisted in any cause for the betterment of humanity. He was a member of several fraternal orders, including Recovery Lodge, A. F. M., also Knights Templar and the Shrine. He was a member of Mountain Lodge, I. O. O. F., and of the J. O. A. M., a devoted communicant of Christ Church and faithful to all its obligations as such.

He is survived by his devoted and loyal wife and four children, a daughter and three sons. He was the last of his family. One brother was killed in the Confederate service. Captain Gray was a ardent member of Camp Pulliam, U. C. V., of Greenville, and formerly its Adjutant and Commandant.

SOURCE: Confederate Veteran Magazine, March, 1915.

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