Donated by Marta Burns, thank you Marta!
John Grayson, who was for more than half a century a citizen of
Washington, Pennsylvania, and for over forty years editor and publisher
of the Washington EXAMINER, was a son of Robert Grayson, who with his
sons William Grayson and John Grayson, aged respectively two years and
nine months, sailed from Ireland in the brig "William" arriving at New
Castle, Delaware, in June, 1784. The following sketch of John Grayson is
from his diary:
"My father proceeded to Mifflin where he made his lodging for a time
until after the death of my mother, then with my brother, William and
myself, removed to Carlisle. My inclination turned upon the printing
business at quite an early age, as much perhaps as from anything else and
perhaps more from observing at very great interest and attention some
printing type among the sweepings of a printing office. I went home
resolving in my mind to learn the printing business and no other.
Accordingly, at a suitable age, my father placed me with George Kline of
Carlisle to learn the "art, trade and occupation of a printer," himself
providing clothing, etc.
Although discouragements met me and induced relinquishing my intention,
having determined upon the matter I resolved to go through; and can say
with all seriousness in my own heart, my duties were performed faithfully
and honorably. In the winter of 1805, went to Philadelphia obtaining a
situation in the book-printing office of William Duane, editor of the
AURORA whose office was in Franklin Court.
Continued to reside in Philadelphia under the summer of 1806, when the
yellow fever making its appearance there, went to Trenton, New Jersey.
Worked with James Oram, book printer, during the summer. Returned to
Philadelphia, and between that city, New York, and the city of Baltimore,
spent the remaining days of my journeyman printer life.
June 18, 1812. The same day war declared by Congress, about noon the
Declaration was received by express from Washington, against Great
Britain. Being in the city of Baltimore, gave myself mind, heart and body
to be a soldier while the war lasted. The city was in extreme frenzied
excitement, business almost suspended; the population in masses in the
streets and agitated as if a hostile army had invaded their homes. About
simultaneously with the declaration of war, Congress has promptly passed
a bill providing for accepting of the services of fifty thousand
volunteers, signed by President Madison. Under this act many young men
volunteered, and we signed our names at a rendezvous immediately opened
at a tavern on Pratt Street, east of the basin. Opposite, across the
street, was a large building used for a riding school. Before many days,
plenty of volunteers signed for filling the company and many were
excluded. We drilled daily in the above building and became pretty fair
soldiers at least in evolutions of the drill.
Went through several promotions and served till the close of the war,
thus completing three years on the Niagara and northern frontier: one as
a volunteer in the Baltimore volunteers and two in the regular army;
obtained a furlough for three months from this date, November 7, 1814;
return to duty; no operation of this division of the army of any
importance from date until news of peace having been concluded at Ghent
was received. Now that the war has happily terminated, my anxieties are
for private life and active business. A military one in peace, affording
very little pleasure for me. In arranging of the peace establishment am
retained and assigned to the corps of artillery in my present position as
second leuitenant from the date of my commission as such in the infantry,
2d June, 1814.
Report to Adjt Gen Parker at Washington City, who solicits me to remain
in the service, offering some inducements to do so; that I should be
stationed at Fort McHenry near Baltimore, or any other post I should
choose. General Parker was particularly kind, but I had joined the army
because there seemed to be a necessity-my country engaged in war with a
foreign nation. Now that an honorable peace was obtained and our just
claims granted, I felt as standing in the way of some worthy young man
who wished to make arms his profession. I therefore preferred returning
to private life and printing business. Forthwith resigned my commission
September 7, 1815, thus completing three years in the service on the
Niagara and Northern frontier, one as a volunteer with the Baltimore
volunteers and one with the regular army.
Return to the city of Baltimore, enter into the book and job printing as
a partner with James Kennedy; married to Martha Wray, daughter of John
and Mary Wray, by Rev James Inglis, D D May 9th, 1816."
From Baltimore he moved to Philadelphia, and thence to Washington,
The causes that brought him to this town are related in the history of
the EXAMINER and his connection with that paper. During his long
residence in Washington, he filled important offices of honor and trust,
having been elected to the office of register in 1830; prothonotary in
1839; associate judge in 1843. Served as trustee of Washington Female
Seminary from its organization till his death, and pension agent from
1853 to 1861. He died on the 11th of March, 1871, in his eighty eighth
Of his children: Thomas W Grayson resides in Meadville, Penna; John
Grayson resides in Pittsburgh; and Dr Wray Grayson and Miss Martha
Grayson are residents of Washington, Penna.
James McDermott who came to this place at an early day and became
identified as a printer with the REPORTER, and has also served the town
many years as postmaster, is now eighty seven years of age and still a
resident of the town. He was born about one and one half miles from
Gettysburgh, April 24, 1795, and resided at home until he was about
fourteen years of age, when he was apprenticed to Robert Harper, then
editing the ADAMS SENTINEL in Gettysburg. In 1814 he was drafted into the
United States army and placed under the command of Captain John McMillan.
On the first of November the company marched to Erie, Penna. Later he was
a participant in the battles of Chippewa and Lundy's Lane, and other
battles and skirmishes in Canada. After his return home he visited
Gettysburg, Washington, DC, and Martinsburg, Virginia, and worked a short
time in each place. In the latter part of 1817 or the early part of 1818,
he came to Washington, Penna, and entered the office of John Grayson on
the EXAMINER where he remained six or seven months. In the latter part of
1818 he entered the office of the REPORTER and remained with that paper
through all its various changes for thirty two years up to 1850. In March
of that year he was appointed postmaster and served four years, and as
deputy during the term of David Acheson, his successor. Upon the election
of Mr Lincoln as president in 1860, he was again appointed and served
four years, after which he served in an official capacity for a short
time in Harrisburg.
History of Washington County, Pennsylvania: with biographical sketches
of many of its pioneers and prominent men / edited by Boyd Crumrine.
Illustrated. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts and Co., 1882. P489