Little is known about the specific details of Charles Chauncey’s early life. We know that, along with Walt Whitman, he was one of several men who made up the Fred Gray Association, "a loose confederation of young men who seemed anxious to explore new possibilities of male-male affection" (Folsom and Price Re-Scripting 62). Stephanie Blalock, when describing the Fred Gray Association, lists Chauncey as one of the many members of the group that were later included in Whitman’s memory book (179).
Hugo Fritsch, son of the Austrian consul, was part of the "Fred Gray Association," a group that Ed Folsom and Ken Price characterize as "a loose confederation of young men who seemed anxious to explore new possibilities of male-male affection" ("Walt Whitman").
Fred Gray, the son of prominent New York doctor Dr. John F. Gray and Elizabeth Hull-Gray, was born in New York in 1840. His two siblings died before they reached adulthood. Gray enrolled in William’s College in Massachusetts in 1858, studying science and medicine and eager to follow in his father’s esteemed footsteps. He studied in Germany at the University of Heidelberg from 1860 to 1861, but left before finishing his degree to serve in the Union army (Blalock 52).