The Van Zandt County Historical Commission will host the unveiling of an official Texas Historical Marker on December 8, 2012 in Wills Point recognizing the historical significance of Elbert Gray, a citizen of Wills Point and recipient of the Carnegie Hero Medal.
In 1912, sixteen-year-old Elbert Gray was lowered by rope head-first into a newly-dug, thirteen-inch-diameter dry well more than sixty feet and saved a three-year-old child, Calvin Stepp, that had fallen into the well. The editor of The Wills Point Chronicle, in coverage of the harrowing rescue, mentioned that if anyone ever deserved a Carnegie Hero Medal, it was truly Elbert Gray. The Dallas Times Herald Newspaper picked up the story and a letter writing campaign ensued requesting that Carnegie Hero Fund Commission investigate Elbert Gray’s eligibility as a hero award recipient. In 1913, Carnegie Hero Fund Commission agreed and awarded Gray a hero medal with all the benefits.
The public is invited to come learn more about this fascinating story from Van Zandt County’s history at a reception and dedication ceremony that will take place Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Mark Christian Methodist Episcopal Church at 402 South Third Street in Wills Point. Following the ceremony, the unveiling of the historical marker will take place at Greenwood Cemetery, grave site of Elbert Gray, approximately one mile south of the church on Van Zandt County Road 3410. From St. Mark Church, take South Third Street south to Junction Street, west on Junction to Fourth Street, south on Fourth Street (becomes VZCR 3410 leaving Wills Point city limits). Signs will mark the way. Cemetery will be on the right.
Descendants of Elbert Gray and Calvin Stepp, the child pulled from the well, will be in attendance. The Van Zandt County Historical Commission, District Court Judge Theresa Drum, County Judge Rhita Koches, local dignitaries and writer of the historical marker application, Lawrence Greer, will participate in the dedication ceremony.