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Beth Gay's Genealogy Page
The Amazing Photograph

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 me?

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 World.

Here's a copy of the amazing photograph.

The amazing photograph
Mel's Great Grandfather - centre with white beard.
Mel's Grandfather - standing second from left.

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