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Herbert Gray/ Murder in West Virginia

We grew up listening to stories about our family history. At least what everyone thought was our family history.

The story went like this…My great Uncle walked down the street like it was a Wild West movie. I had an image in my mind of a tall handsome guy in cowboy boots. Every step he took the spurs on his cowboy boots made a ringing sound. Dust blew and swirled around and he walked toward her ever so slowly. She was beautiful, and desired by all the men of the town. She smelled like lilacs, and wore a dress with capped sleeves. Her hair was pinned up, with just a few pieces falling down on her face. He hid a stick of dynamite behind his back, and once he reached his wife he lit the stick of dynamite and pulled it to her body. She was killed from the explosion. He murdered her because she had been cheating on him. He lived though the explosion and was taken to jail.

The truth is much darker. I hit the trail of finding out information about Herbert. I wrote to the Prison, and they wrote me back. They wrote that I would have to write to another Prison to find the archives. I did just that, but they had limited information to share. Just the dates that he was there, and when he was paroled. Paroled? I couldn’t believe he was actually Pardoned by Roosevelt.

Herbert was born is 1886. He was the baby of the family of 10. His father was Osburn W. Gray, and Osburn worked as a day laborer. Eliza was the mother of Herbert, and the 3 marriage of Osburn.  Howard Asa (my great grandfather), Augustus all lived together and worked in the coal mines for a while together. Herbert was married to Alice first, and I could not find out what happened to her, or if the two of them had any children. Another lady of the same name came into his life, but Alice had children from someone else. Alice owned a boarding house.

Herbert and Alice had a huge fight early one day, and she made him leave. Later in the day he came back to the boarding house. He banged on the door and yelled her name. ALICE, ALICE…he was unrelenting. She finally gave in, and when she did he grabbed her and light two sticks of dynamite. The 8 year old daughter of Alice witnessed the whole thing. Alice died, and Herbert lost his arm. He was rushed to the hospital and it was reported that he may not make it. He did, and was put in prison. He only served 16 years, and was pardoned for Christmas by Roosevelt.

I have never seen any photos of him or her. If you have any additional information I would love to hear from you.

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