Monday, July 3, 2017

Gray's Corner

May 10, 1994 Daily Record  Gray’s Corner and Community by Bette Moore. 

As one travels south of Lawrenceville 5 miles on Illinois Rt 1 and 1 ½ miles west,there is a community called Gray’s Corner.

In the early 1800s, Joseph Gray bought a parcel of land from the Vandermark heirs. Gray started a general store and later sold it to his son, Sherman Gray- thus the business was known as Gray’s store and the intersection of two country roads was called Gray’s corner. Today the two roads are specified as 1000 E. and 500 N.

A blacksmith shop was across the road from the store and there was a barbershop on the north side of the store. Sherman Gray sold the store to “Ham” Jacobs and Roy Crouch. Harry Loos was a clerk in the store from 1924 to 1940. He then purchased the business from Jacobs and  Crouch and continued to operate it  until 1966. Don Greenlee was the last owner of the merchandise and store.The store building has been made into a house owned by Clarence and Bernice Buchanan.

Just east of Gray’s store was the T. I. Gould tool house where 45 to 50 men reported for work during the county’s busy oilfield activities. Six- horse teams were also among those reporting for work.

Just a few rods east of the toolhouse was a house built in the late 1800s by Gould. A few years ago Joe and Joaan Diver bought the house and made it into a bed and breakfast establishment with antiques a specialty and named their new business “Gould House.”

Fillmore school was about a mile north of Gray’s corner. It was eventually enlarged to a three room school. It was the largest country school in Lawrence County with three teachers and at one time had an enrollment of 125 to 130 students.  A few years ago the school burned and never reopened.

Gray’s corner had a fast pitch softball team in 1940 to 1950 when the softball era was at its peak in Lawrence County. The teams played in Lawrenceville and St. Francisville leagues. In the early 1930s medicine and tent shows were popular attractions at Gray’s corner.

The foregoing facts were combined by Jack Gould and Bernice Buchanan, while the accompanying photograph was applied by Mary Loos Wagner. I can remember visiting the store at Gray’s corner with my father many years ago. He wanted me to see one of the nicest country stores he had ever seen. I think it had the first little building separate from the store in which oil for cars was kept that I had ever seen in the country. And I recall that when father was an inspector for the Illinois Department of Agriculture, he gave the store an excellent rating as far as cleanliness was concerned.  

1965 Atlas map showing Gray's Corner west of Rt 1.
In 1966 this general merchandise store often call Loos Grocery was a familiar landmark on the northwest corner of the intersection of two Country Rds. SW. of Lawrenceville known as Gray’s corner.