Behind the scenes of the Alexandria Gazette Packet’s article on Conny Gray dated January 2, 2019.
Conny Gray was born around 1863 to Martha and John Gray. Martha was born in 1820s as a free woman. Some of Martha’s other siblings were, Alfred Gray, William H. Gray, the father to Sarah A. Gray of Parker-Gray School and Selina Gray.
In this research, I found that Sarah A. Gray was the first cousin to Conny Gray. Also it is believed that Conny’s father could have been a slave. As early as 1860, Conny’s mother was the head of the household in the 1860 and 1870 censuses. It is possible that Conny’s father was not a freed person in 1860. Conny name was recorded in one of the censuses as Constance. It seems that Conny did not like the name Constance because during his adult life he used the name Conny.
Conny married a well-known teacher, Sarah Derrick(s) whose family was freed prior to the Civil War. Sarah taught at Hallowell School for girls and later was selected as one of the first teachers of Parker-Gray School in 1920.
After the death of Sarah Derrick(s) Gray, local researchers had mistaken her as the person that Parker-Gray was named after. The school was named after Sarah A. Gray who was single and who never married. She was the first cousin to Conny Gray. What Sarah D. Gray and Sarah A. Gray had in common are that both of them taught at Hallowell School for girls and both of them came from free-people-of-color prior to the Civil War.
After those similarities, Sarah A. Gray stands out. She was once the principal of Hallowell School for girls. She came from a prominent family. Her father owned large amounts of real estate and he was a butcher. On the death of her father, it was written in the newspaper that he was one of the wealthiest Negroes in the United States. He left his wealth to his second wife, his daughter and his nephew.
For Private Conny Gray, his surviving descendants are John Gray, Eleanor Gray-Cheeks and others. They were members of Roberts Chapel (known today as Roberts Memorial United Methodist Church).
You can read Private Conny’s story in the Alexandria Gazette Newspaper at