Will the Father of William Penn Gray Please Stand UpPosted on December 10th, 2012 No comments
The oldest direct ancestor that we can confirm is Nathan Munson Gray. We have reasonable confidence that NM is descended from James Gray and William Penn Gray. You can look these fellows up in our family tree site, Grays Going Back.
A surprising number of family tree web sites say that Wm. Penn’s parents were John Gray and Jennet (or Jannett or Janet or some other variant) Greer. A report that we got back in the 1970s read, “We believe his parents to have been John Gray and his wife, Jennett, who came from Pennsylvania and settled in Greenbrier County, VA in 1780.” I don’t know the source of that report; we got it from a Martha Courtney of Missouri, but I’m not certain that she wrote it.
You’ll still find John & Jannet in my site, but they’re not connected to anybody in my direct line right now.
Family history sites borrow information freely from one another — the software at ancestry.com and myheritage.com actually encourages that — but most folks are doing this for fun, and I suspect that not a lot of research is involved. So a lot of errors get copied over and over and over. (Incorrect dates for Nathan Munson’s death are a good example).
I was recently given information from a book called The Gray Family and Allied Lines by Jo Linn White & Gordon Gray. Thanks to researcher Kenneth Higgins, who passed that info on. This book shows that
- John & Jannett had a son William Gray
- He wasn’t William Penn Gray
The birth and death dates, spouses, and places of residence for the two men are totally different. And I can find census data and other records for both.
So how on earth could anybody believe that William Penn’s parents were John and Jannet Greer? I think that at one point, somebody made a mistake. And everybody else simply accepted it without bothering to check.
And they told two sites, and they told two sites, and so on, and so on, an so on….
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