ohn Simpson Gray of Detroit subscribed to the philosophy that it is “not the good that comes to us, but the good that comes to the world through
us that is the measure of our success.” Judged by this standard, his peers maintained that he had had a notably successful career. David Gray
inherited not only his father’s fortune, but also his sense of philanthropy, and he shared his considerable wealth with his hometowns of Detroit,
Nantucket, and Santa Barbara.
The Gray family saga began on April 6, 1849, when Scottish crockery merchant Philip Cadwell Gray and family boarded a ship bound for the United
States, and, after an arduous stint farming in Wisconsin, moved to Detroit where Philip purchased a small toy store. His 18-year-old son John joined him in
the business in 1859 after a term as a teacher in Algonac, a small village of 700 souls.
In 1861, father and son sold their stock of jigsaw puzzles, kaleidoscopes, dollhouses, skipping ropes, toy soldiers and trains, and turned to the
manufacture of candy. Over time, their firm became incorporated as Gray, Toynton, & Fox.
Moguls & Mansions
by Hattie Beresford