It was just about fourteen years ago
when this amazing thing happened.
I had just begun work at the library
in Moultrie, Georgia, and knew nobody.
An elderly gentleman came through
the front doors and up the steps. I noticed him as he was holding a
photograph in his hand and because he was heading bee-line straight for
me. I did not know him. I had never seen him before.
He walked directly to me and handed
me the photograph.
"I don't know who these people are,"
he said. "I bought the picture for a quarter when Bowles Studio went out
of business. I just thought it was an interesting picture."
I looked down at the black and white
print. I looked again…and again and took a gulp of air.
"I know exactly who these people
are," I said.
"You do?" the man asked.
"Yes, I do," I replied. "The man in
the middle with the beard and the Confederate Cross of Honor is John
Samuel Gay, Sr., and his great-grandson is his spitting image."
"How do you know what his
great-grandson looks like?" the man asked in surprise.
"I'm married to him," I said.
John Samuel Gay, Sr., born 15 April
1847 in Colquitt County, Georgia had served with the 12th
Georgia in the "Late Unpleasantness (The Civil War)." His patriotic ardor
remained with him throughout his life. On his tombstone at Pleasant Grove
Cemetery near Moultrie are the simple words, "John Gay, 12 GA Mil." John
Gay died 28 May 1928 in Colquitt County.
In the photograph with him are his
three sons, two daughters and his wife, Emmaline America Dukes Gay. We can
positively identify Miles Henry Gay, my husband's grandfather. Miles Henry
stands 2nd from the left just behind his father. Tall, handsome
with a moustache, his likeness is very much like that of his photograph we
have on his Masonic degree.
Miles Henry Gay was born 29 April
1866 in Colquitt County and died 31 December 1949 on his farm near New Elm
just north of Moultrie. Mary Jane Register, his wife, died in 1929…and
Miles Henry, in need of someone "to do" for him, managed to get a marriage
license with the bride's name blank…and chose a lady who was chopping
cotton in a field near his farm. After she finished the row, they were
married right there in the field - and remained married the rest of his
days. "Miss Victoria" became Mrs. Gay that hot day in the cotton patch.
It's interesting to note that Miles
Henry looked exactly like a distant cousin - Zorobabel Gay - whose family
settled over near the coast where the modern submarine base is located
today - King's Bay. Zorobabel was actually a contemporary of Miles Henry's
- although they never met and never knew the other existed.
Miles Henry's son, Wiley Benjamin,
born 13 March 1904 (and died 5 March 1983) was the father of Melvin
Benjamin Gay - the spitting image of his great grandfather, John Samuel.
So far as we know, there is no other
photograph of John Samuel Gay.
How did it happen that the strange
man came into the library on that particular day and walked straight to
Today, Mel has a daughter, Kellee
Gail Gay Royal, who has a son, Dillon…direct descendants of John
Samuel…and Simon Gay, the son of Simon, the son of Henry, the son of
Henry…who came to Isle of Wight County, Virginia and this country in 1638
aboard the good ship Safety and who began the family in the New
Here's a copy of the amazing
Mel's Great Grandfather - centre with white beard.
Mel's Grandfather - standing second from left.