Gray was born to English parents in Evans, New York. His father died when he was 14, after which he worked to support his mother; after his mother died when he was 19, he enrolled in law school. He attended Albany Law School, earning a degree in 1855, and then entering law practice.
In 1857, however, he moved to Quindaro, Kansas, and took up farming. He was soon elected to the Kansas Legislature and served for a time. During the Civil War he served in the Union Army, and returning to Kansas politics, held a series of high-profile agricultural posts. He was a director in the Kansas State Agricultural Society from 1866 until it was merged into the Kansas State Board of Agriculture. He later sold his farm and moved to Topeka to serve as Secretary of the Board of Agriculture from 1873 until his death from tuberculosis in 1880.
- Linus P. Brockett (1882). Our Western Empire. W. Garretson & co. pp. 886–887.
- Henry Gannett (1905). "Gray". The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 142.
- Blackmar, Frank Wilson (1912). Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Embracing Events, Institutions, Industries, Counties, Cities, Towns, Prominent Persons, Etc. Standard Publishing Company. p. 782.
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