A resident of Oklahoma for many years, John C. Gray, who is proprietor of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company at Bartlesville, Washington County, was born in Lee County, Virginia, February 3, 1877, his parents being C. B. and Matilda (Ball) Gray, both of whom were also natives of Virginia. The parents were married in Virginia and soon thereafter removed to Eldorado Springs, Missouri, and from there to Caney, Kansas, where he and his family lived for many years. This town is situated on the Oklahoma boundary line. The father has been a Baptist clergyman throughout his active career and while a resident of Kansas was also interested in real estate, as well as at Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where both he and his wife are now making their home. They reared a family of ten children.
John C. Gray acquired his early education in the schools of Lee County, Virginia, and also in the Kansas schools, where he came with his parents on their removal to this state in 1893. In 1895 he removed with his parents to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, here establishing a general merchandise business just south of where the courthouse now stands. This he conducted successfully alone until 1898 when his brother, James Gray, joined him in the enterprise, under the firm style of Gray Brothers, and they were among the older firms of the now flourishing city of Bartlesville. They continued this establishment for about seven years and then retired, James Gray becoming identified with the oil industry.
They next engaged in the real estate business and built a two-story brick store on Second and Johnstone avenue, which they sold and later erected the coliseum on Fourth and Johnstone avenue. The first floor of this building has five store rooms and there is a hotel of sixteen rooms above and on top is a roof garden. In 1912 John C. Gray purchased the Coco-Cola Bottling Works at Bartlesville, with a capacity to turn out twelve hundred cases per day. The company manufactures all kinds of soft drinks, has a fine plant with the most modern machinery equipment necessary to the successful conduct of this business, the machinery costing twenty-five thousand dollars. The building is of brick construction and is situated on a tract of land fifty by one hundred and forty feet. He employs about eight people and his trade covers the northeastern part of the state, four trucks making deliveries to a distance of forty miles. He is very successful in the undertaking, thus rapidly becoming one of the prominent and prosperous manufacturers of Bartlesville.
On October 4, 1901, Mr. Cray was married to Miss Nola Edmondson, a native of Tennessee, and they have become the parents of four children, all girls: Jewell, who graduated from high school as a member of the class of 1920; Cloe, who graduated in 1921; Ruth, who is in the junior year at high school; and Bessie Jane, who is a little lass of four years.
In religious faith Mr. Gray is a Methodist, and he is a member of the Chamber of Commerce of Bartlesville. When Mr. Gray came to Bartlesville in 1895 it had a population of but three hundred and the town was without railroad communication from the outside world. Today it has a population of over fourteen thousand, with railroad and telegraph communication and every convenience of a modern American city.