Legacy of the Last Revolutionary War Survivor Lives On
Most drivers streaming down Route 77 on their way south from Cleveland do so ignorant of the humble grave that sits just miles off the highway. Just south of Belle Valley in Noble County is the final resting place of the last surviving soldier of the Revolutionary War, John Gray.
Gray was 104 when he died on March 29, 1868. “George Washington was the first soldier of the revolution; John Gray was the last soldier of the revolution,” a contemporary newspaper obituary said at the time.
It was not the only connection Gray had with the nation’s patriarch: he served under Washington during the war.
Today, Noble is working to ensure that the memories of Gray and other famous residents live on.
“It’s very important because it is part of our history,” said Joy Flood, manager of the Historic Jail Museum and Information Center in Caldwell. “We feel privileged to have people like this among our historical figures. It’s our responsibility to make sure that this information is available and the historical sites are available for anyone who has the desire to come visit them.”
The fruits of this responsibility can be seen all over the region. Apart from the well-kept gravesite, there are a handful of other monuments to Gray scattered throughout the area, including a life-size painting on the third floor of Noble’s historic 1934 courthouse.
“We’ve been promoting John Gray and celebrating his role in the Revolutionary War for quite a long time,” Joy said.
It is a legacy worth remembering and one particularly fitting for the area. Gray was a man without many worldly means, but he gave his all for a cause that he believed in. He may not have played the biggest role in the war effort, but the understated poetry of his sacrifices strike a powerful cord in Noble County.
The memory of John Gray is passed down for generations, and through the efforts of Joy and those like her, it is a story that will never be forgotten.