Actions
Begin New Search
Refine Last Search
Cemetery Lookup
Add Burial Records
Help with Find A Grave

Find all Grays in:
 • Philadelphia Church Cemetery
 • Greenfield
 • Hancock County
 • Indiana
 • Find A Grave

Top Contributors
Success Stories
Discussion Forums
Find A Grave Store

Log In
Mary Alice Smith Gray
Birth: Sep. 25, 1850
Liberty
Union County
Indiana, USA
Death: Mar. 7, 1924
Greenfield
Hancock County
Indiana, USA

Literature character. Mary Alice Gray memorial marker: "The Original Little Orphant Annie. Resided South of Philadelphia. Interred in Philadelphia Cemetery. Marker Erected By Residents of Sugar Creek Twp."

The poem "Little Orphant Annie" was written by the noted Hoosier poet, James Whitcomb Riley, and was published in 1885. The poem was inspired by Mary Alice "Allie" (Smith) Gray who was purported to be an orphan. Born near Liberty, Indiana, it is popularly believed that her mother died when Allie was very young but that is now uncertain. Popular sources also report that her father died when she was ten but recent research suggests that he was alive after Mary Alice's marriage to John Gray. Recent research cites writing by Mary Alice in her own handwriting that there was "marital disunion" and when she was four years old, sent to live with her grandmother. This situation likely formed Riley's foundation for the orphan setting. Mary Alice became part of the Riley household in Greenfield in exchange for room and board. Allie and young James, known as "Bud" in his childhood, became fast friends. Allie later married John Wesley Gray and moved to Gray's farm south of Philadelphia, Hancock County, Indiana. She was widowed in 1922 and moved into her daughter's home in Greenfield, Indiana where she died.

The poem was originally titled the "The Elf Girl," but Riley offered it to be published under the title "Little Orphant Allie." The newspaper made a typo and printed it as "Little Orphant Annie." It was an immediate hit and the accidental Annie name remained.

The Annie character was later borrowed by Harold Gray (no relation) for his new 1924 cartoon series in the Chicago Tribune, which became Little Orphan Annie and was syndicated nationwide. There was a popular Little Orphan Annie radio show in the late 1940s. "Annie" later evolved into a highly successful musical and a movie. The Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls are based on another of Riley's poems, "The Raggedy Man." Thanks to Brigette S. Cook Jones, a Hancock County (Indiana) historian, for recent research citations.
 
 
Family links: 
 Spouse:
  John Wesley Gray (1834 - 1922)
 
Burial:
Philadelphia Church Cemetery
Greenfield
Hancock County
Indiana, USA
Plot: GPS: 39.7804, -85.8545
 
Created by: Pat France
Record added: Aug 29, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 11636232
Mary Alice <i>Smith</i> Gray
Added by: Colleen Sanders Brown
 
Mary Alice <i>Smith</i> Gray
Added by: Pat France
 
Mary Alice <i>Smith</i> Gray
Added by: Pat France
 
 
There are 3 more photos not showing...
Click here to view all images...
Photos may be scaled.
Click on image for full size.


- Colleen Sanders Brown
 Added: Mar. 20, 2014
Rest in peace,
- Nora Ann
 Added: Aug. 14, 2013
How i want to thank you for all my years as a child I remember you from the Riley poem my favorite.I wish i could have heard your stories 1st hand.Rest in Peace.
- Connie Johnson Jenkins
 Added: Apr. 4, 2013
There are 36 more notes not showing...
Click here to view all notes...
 
This page is sponsored by: Rick France

Privacy Statement and Terms of Service