GRAY, JOSEPH WILLIAM (5 Aug. 1813-26 May 1862), founder of the PLAIN DEALER, was born in Bridgeport, Vt. to Urel and Betsey (Case) Gray, emigrating with his brother, Admiral Nelson Gray, to Cleveland in 1836. After teaching in local schools, Gray read law under HENRY B. PAYNE and HIRAM V. WILLSON and was admitted to the bar. In partnership with his brother, Gray purchased the CLEVELAND ADVERTISER, a faltering Democratic weekly, in Dec. 1841, resurrecting it on 7 Jan. 1842 as the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A. N. Gray was business manager until shortly after the weekly converted to a daily in 1845, when he left the Plain Dealer solely in his brother's charge.
Gray was personally involved in Democratic politics. Appointed Cleveland postmaster by Pres. Franklin Pierce in 1853, he was dismissed by Pres. Jas. Buchanan in 1858 for editorially supporting Illinois senator Stephen A. Douglas. Gray lost the 1858 Congressional election in the normally Republican district to Edward Wade. He went to both the Charleston and Baltimore Democratic conventions in 1860 as a delegate pledged to Douglas, maintaining his support of Douglas even through defeat, endorsing the senator's pledge of Union loyalty after the South's secession in 1861. For 20 years, Gray kept his Democratic paper alive in the heart of a Whig, later Republican, stronghold. He married Catherine Foster in 1845 and had a daughter, Josephine, and 2 sons, Eugene and Lewis. He died after a short illness at home and was buried in the ERIE ST. CEMETERY.