The Fay Family: Genealogies: Joseph Belknap Fay

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Joseph Belknap Fay and his Descendants
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Town Histories: Portland by Andrew W. Young
PORTLAND was formed from Chautauqua, April 9, 1813. The bounds, as described in the act, are precisely those which include the present towns of Portland, Westfield and Ripley. So rapid was the increase of the population in this part of the county, that, for the more convenient transaction of business, division of the town became necessary; and, by an act of the legislature passed March 1, 1816 the town of Ripley was erected, comprising all territory lying west of Chautauqua creek. In 1829, the town of Westfield was formed with its present boundaries, restricting Portland within the east and west lines of range 13, and reducing its area a little below that of an average township....
Original Land Purchases in Portland, Township 5.
1804. May, James Dunn. 25, 30, 31, 34, 35.
1806. June, Benj. Hutchins, 37, 41. July, David Eaton, 37. Nathan Fay, 25. Elisha Fay, '5. October, Peter Kane, 38.
1806. February, Thomas Klumph, 37, 41.
1809. June, Rufus Perry. 33. July, John Price, 39. Peter Ingersoll, 41. October, Philo Hopson, 27, 33. November, Jeremiah Klumph, 19. Dec., Martin Potter, 12. Robert Sweet, 21.
1810. February, Absalom Harris, 33; [sold to Jeremiah Potter.] Rachel Perry, 33. March, Daniel Barnes, 3, 4 . June, Nathan Fay, 12. 1911. May, Elijah Fay, 20. July, William Hutchins, 41.
1813. December, Hollis Fay, 13. 32
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1814. September, John R. Gibson, 13. November, Roe Goldsmith, 5, 6.
1815. April, Moses Sage. 2, 6, 4, I4, 21. Jethro Gerry, 32.
1816. January, Augustus Soper, I2. February, Wm. Corell, 36. May, Samuel Geer, 8. July, Wm. Dunham, 27. Calvin Barnes, 32. Isaac Bald- win, 36. October, Solomon Coney, 42. Lewis Hills, 3. Elijah Fay, 42.
1817. March, Oliver Spafford, 22. Simon Burton, 22. Elijah Fay, 40. Jacob Houghton, 7. April, Seth Ensign, 32. Gillett Bacon, 40. May. Isaac Baldwin, 40. June, Martin Smith, 45. July, Asa Brooks, 2. Jewett Prime, 16. September, Zadoc Martin, 2, 3..........
The first settler in Portland was James Dunn from near Meadville. The date of his purchase, as appears from Holland Company's books, is May 31, 1804, although it is said he did not settle on his land till 1805. Dr. Taylor says, "he located about eleven hundred acres near the center of the town, in 1804, before the town was surveyed into lots." From the list of original
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purchases, given on a preceding page, it appears that the lots he selected were 25, 30, 31, 34 and 35. As five whole lots would greatly, exceed 1,100 acres, it is evident that only parts of some of these were taken. ....
It is believed no other person settled in the town before 1806....

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Portland, like almost all other towns, has had its cider-mills and distilleries. Of the former, two are mentioned; the first, built by Calvin Barnes, in 1824 the second, by Dea. Elijah Fay, at Brocton, in 1830, which is still standing. The great change in the drinking custom has rendered mills of this class nearly useless. A single one in each town, confined to its proper use, would hardly be deemed a nuisance. Three distilleries have been built in the town. The first, by Ethan A. Owen, in 1817; the second, by Simeon Whitcomb and Orris Perkins, in 1819; the third, by Silas Houghton, in 1824 or 1825, near the falls in Slippery Rock creek. It is creditable to the town to state, that all of them were short lived; and that the first two are represented as "small affairs."...

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Portland has attained a high rank among the towns of the county in fruit-growing and grape culture. Capt. Dunn, David Eaton, the Fays, and other early settlers, set out orchards as soon as sufficient "clearings" had been made. In this, however, they did not differ from the settlers in other towns. Hence it is deemed unnecessary to speak at length of their orchards, though they were scarcely excelled by any in the county. It is the cultivation of the grape and the manufacture of wine for which this town has become distinguished. The grape was introduced in this section by Dea. Elijah Fay as early as 1818. After a trial, for several years, of different varieties without success, he introduced, in 1824, the Isabella and the Catawba, which proved to be well adapted to the soil and climate. From his crop of 1830, he made from five to eight gallons of wine, the first made from the cultivated grape in western or even central New York. The old stocks of these pioneer vines were healthy and productive, until the winter of 1872-3. One of them had been trained a distance of 110 feet, and in 1871 yielded 160 pounds of fruit. The severity of the winter of 1872-3 materially injured them, and they arc, in part removed. The family, it is said, have still a few gallons of wine of the vintage of 1847. For the last four years of his life, Mr. Fay is supposed to have made nearly 300 gallons a year. His cellars contained 1,500 gallons at the time of his death, in 1860.

In 1859, Joseph B. Fay, Garrett E. Ryckman, and Rufus Haywood, built a wine house on ground obtained of Dea. Fay; and 2,000 gallons were made the same fall. It was soon found that not only the gravelly soil was adapted [page 505] to the culture of the grape; but vineyards were planted in other parts of the town. The increase of fruit enabled the company to increase their manufacture, until, in 1865, it reached 16,000 gallons. Fay retired from the firm in 1862. Ryckman & Haywood continued the business until 1865. In 1865, Lake Shore Wine Company was formed with a capital of $100,000, which went into operation in April. Timothy Judson was president of the company: J. B. Fay, secretary, and Albert Haywood. superintendent. They bought of Ryckman S Haywood their stock of 17,000 gallons of wine. and their other wine interest for $38,000. The present wine house of Ryckman, Day S Co. was built the same season. The enterprise was unsuccessful. The company became involved; the property was sold to pay their indebtedness; and was bought by G. E. Ryckman and R. B. Day, who became the owners of the property in 1868.

Ryckman, Day & Co. commenced business the first of June, 1868. They purchased at the sale of the Lake Shore Company's property, 24.000 gallons. The storage capacity, which was 40,000, has been increased to 120,000 gallons. In 1870, about 200 tons of grapes were manufactured, and a like number in 1871, a large portion of which came from northern Ohio and central New York. The product in 1870 was 45,000 gallons; in 1871, 42,000. They had at one time in their cellars, in 1872, 85,000 gallons. The enterprise is said to be a successful one....

DAVID EATON was born in Framingham, Mass., Feb. 2, 1782. He was the oldest son of Benjamin and Mary Eaton, and the fifth of ten children. His father was a shoemaker; and David was put upon the bench at the age of nine years. When eighteen years of age his father died; but he continued the business and supported the family until he was twenty-two; yet he found time to store his mind with useful knowledge. In 1805, with Nathan Fay, he visited the "Purchase," and explored the lake region, and returned. April 20, 1806, he married Elizabeth Horne; and in May, accompanied by his wife, mother, and youngest sister, Nathan Fay and family, Elisha and Nathaniel Fay, started for the West, with a span of horses and a covered wagon. His wife being in feeble health, they were obliged to stop for rest at New Hartford, where she died. Leaving his mother and sister there, he came to Portland, and located the land on which he afterwards settled, and where he lived until his death, nearly 67 years. Having built a log house and cleared two acres of land, in October he removed his family from New Hartford. The following winter was a very severe one. The mills at Westfield being frozen fast, he had to prepare his corn for food with a mortar and pestle. His mother kept house for him until 1811, when he married Mrs. Mercy Fay, widow of Nathan Fay. His sister, who taught the first school in town, as elsewhere stated, continued teaching until 1815, when she married and moved to Whitestown. His mother died in Oct., 1848, aged 95 years and 6 months. His wife died May 12, 1862. Mr. Eaton died Oct. 7, 1872, aged 90 years and 8 months.
Mr. Eaton was not only an estimable and highly respected citizen, but rendered his town and county valuable service. He served his country in the war of 1812, and was wounded in the battle of Queenston. [See War History.] He was assessor of the town of Chautauqua in 1809; and clerk of the board of supervisors from 1820 to '27, and for the years 1831 and '32. He was supervisor of the town for 6 years, and chairman of the board in 1815; and was for several years a justice of the peace. He was appointed [page 507] superintendent of the poor in 1844, and held the office 6 years. He had 5 children : 1. Edwin, who married Caroline P. Baldridge, of Fredonia, and resides at Frewsburgh. 2. Emily, wife of Josiah Wheeler, of Frewsburgh; both deceased. 3. Alfred, who married Hannah C. Clark; settled in Wisconsin, and now resides on the old homestead, in this town. 4. Oscar, who married Louisa A. Kennedy, of Steuben county; removed to Michigan, and thence to Forest Grove, Oregon. 5. Darwin G., who was a graduate of the state normal school at Albany; subsequently one of its teachers : and thence transferred, nearly thirty- years ago, to the Packer Institute in Brooklyn, where he is still professor of mathematics and natural sciences. He was married to Ann J. Collins, of Steuben county, Oct. 2, 1850.
FAY FAMILIES.—There were among the early settlers in Portland five families of this name, whose respective heads were Elijah, Elisha, Nathaniel, Hollis, and Nathan. All but the last named were brothers, the sons of Nathaniel Fay, who never came to Chautauqua.
ELIJAH FAY was born in Southborough, Mass., Sept. 9, 1781, and was married to Lucy Belknap, of Westborough. They came to Portland in 1811, in a wagon drawn by a yoke of oxen and a horse, and were forty-one days on the road. He settled on lot 20, township 5, the whole of which he had previously located, containing 179 acres, about one-half the area of an ordinary lot. He occupied his first cabin Jan. 1, 1812. His house needs no other description than to say, that it was one of the rudest of the rude. Three-legged stools made of split slabs served for chairs for about three years. A better house was built about a year after the first, and the first was used for a barn, and the space between the two closed up for a threshing floor. Three years later, another house was built, which the family occupied until 1831, when the house now on the farm was built. Pages might be filled with the relation of a most interesting pioneer experience of this family, but which we are compelled to omit. Mr. Fay was regarded as one of the best of the good men who peopled this town. He was prominent among the founders of the Baptist church, and one of its early deacons. Deacon Fay died Aug. 23, 1860; Mrs. Fay, Jan. 18, 1872. They had 3 children : 1. Clinton S., who married Almira A. Clark, and who resides on a portion of the homestead. He is a deaf mute from disease in early life. 2. Lydia E., wife of Lawrence F. Ryckman, who died July 22, 1873. 3. Joseph B., who married Maria M., daughter of Isaac Sage, and after her death, Martha Haywood; now lives in Topeka, Kansas.
ELISHA FAY, a brother of Elijah, was born in Framingham, Mass., June 1783. He came to Portland in June, 1806. He came with his brother, Nathaniel, both unmarried, and Nathan (not a brother) and his family. He settled on lot 25, on which he has lived 67 years, though for some time since the death of his wife as a boarder with his sons. He went to Massachusetts in 1807, and returned to Portland with his wife, Sophia Nichols. A new log house was built, which they occupied until 1828, when the stone house was built. Mr. Fay served in the war of 1812, and was in the battle [page 508] at Black Rock and Buffalo. He is the oldest actual settler in the town now living. He was an early member of the Methodist Episcopal church; afterwards of the division called Wesleyan. Mrs. Fay died in October. 1850. His children were: 1. Lincoln, who married Sophrona Peck, and lives on the farm located by Nathan Far in 1806. 2. Eddie who died at 23. 3. Charles, who married Laura A. Hall, and lives on a part of the old homestead. 4. Otis N., who married Emeline Van Tassel, and lives about two miles southeast from Centerville.
NATHANIEL FAY came to Portland in 1806, with his brother Elisha. and in 1810 located a part of lot 12, tp. 5; the land now owned by his son Franklin. He married Lydia, daughter of Calvin Barnes. He was elected supervisor in 1830, and held several other town offices. He served in the war of 1812, and was at the battle of Black Rock. He died May 15, 1853; Mrs. Fay, Sept. 4, 1872. Their children were : 1. Mary Ann, wife of Orrin Brainard, who settled first in Arkwright. and afterward in Pomfret, where she died in 1854. 2. Franklin, who married Catharine Bowdish, and lives on the homestead. 3. Nathaniel, who married Nancy Bowdish, and settled in Stockton, and is now a Methodist minister in Penn. 4. Lucy, who died at 17.
HOLLIS FAY came to Portland with his brother Elijah in 1811. He first bought land on which the east part of Brocton stands. This he sold in 1815 to Moses Sage, and bought part of lot 42, in the north-west corner of the town. For three years he lived alone in a log cabin. In 1818, he went to Massachusetts and married Phebe Mixer, and removed west with an ox team and covered wagon. Their wagon was their sleeping room, and the road side their kitchen and dining room. They were six weeks on the way. In 1851, they removed from their farm in Portland to Concord, Erie Co., where Mr. Fay died in July, 1868, and Mrs. Fay in October following. They were buried in the Westfield and Portland Union Cemetery. They were members of the Baptist church. They had 3 children, one only, surviving infancy Roxana E., wife of Edmund Ellis, who died in 1857. Mrs. Ellis resides in Concord.
NATHAN FAY, son of Nathan Fay, was born in Southborough, Mass. In 1805, he and David Eaton made a prospecting tour through Portland, on foot, with knapsacks, returning through the south part of the county. In May, 1806, he came with his family, David Eaton and others, to this town and settled near where Lincoln Fay resides. He was married in Massachusetts to Betsey Clemens, who died in 1807; hers being the first death in Portland. In 1809, he married Mercy Groves in Oneida Co., and in June, 1810. he died. He had 7 children, of whom the last only was born in Portland. 1. Hattie, wife of Simeon Guile, who settled in Wisconsin, and died there. 2. John, who married Nancy McClintock;settled in Westfield, and died in lllinois. 3. Nathan, who married and died in Michigan. 4. Cutting, who went south. and is supposed to be dead. 5. Willard, who left home, and has not been heard from. 6. Esther, who died in Ripley about 1865. 7. Betsey, wife of Samuel Morehouse, and lives in Missouri.