The Fay Family: Ephraim Brigham Fay (1764 - 1814)

Three Fay Lines: Overview
Brigham Fay
James W. Fay
Edwin Reed Fay
Fred Hollister Fay
Harold Van Vechten Fay
Fay Burials in Fort Hill Cemetery
Auburn Cousins: Ward, Reed, Van Vechten
from the 1829 map of Cayuga County by David H. Burr
images copyright © 2003 by Cartography Associates
used with permission
The story of the Fays in Cayuga County starts not in one place, but in three, for three descendants of John of Marlborough settled in this area of New York at the time when many people were taking up land here and the population was growing rapidly. The story of Cayuga County has been told in great detail in other places, two of which deserve special mention. The Cayuga County NYGenWeb Project is one of the best GenWeb sites I have seen, both for the content and for the organization. A most rewarding place to do research. Linked from this site are Auburn & Osborne and the immense work of Bill Hecht, the entry page for which can be found at Cayuga County and the Finger Lakes.
"CAYUGA COUNTY, NY is part of an area known as "The Military Tract". The Military Tract was a vast area of about 1.75 million acres located in the heartland of Central NY. Lands purchased by the State from the Onondaga Indian Nation in 1788 and from the Cayuga Nation in 1789 were surveyed into 28 Military Tract Townships to satisfy the claims of veterans of the Revolutionary War, who had been promised farms as an inducement to enlist in the New York regiments.

"Cayuga Co. was formed from Onondaga County, March 8, 1799. Seneca County was taken off in 1804 and part of Tompkins County in 1817. The government of Cayuga County, NY was organized on May 28th, 1799, at the Court House, (Then located at Aurora, NY). Auburn was chosen as the County Seat in 1805. Today, Cayuga County, NY contains one City, and twenty-three Towns, with nine incorporated Villages.

The County Seat is the city of AUBURN, NY. Auburn, rests in the heart of the Finger Lakes Region of Central New York. It was first settled by Col. John L. Hardenbergh, an officer in the Revolutionary War, in 1793. The area was selected because of the natural resource of water power along the Owasco River. It was then called "Hardenbergh's Corners". The name was changed to "Auburn" in 1805. Auburn was formed as a Town from Aurelius, March 28, 1823 and was incorporated as a Village April 18, 1815, and as a City on March 21, 1848."
from History of Cayuga County, New York
"Many settlers were sober, middle class people of agricultural stock. They had been pushed out of New England by adverse economic conditions. They brought with them a desire for civilization, refinement, and law and order. Additionally they sought to establish churches, schools, and other institutions which would help to nourish a stable culture.

"In 1800, twelve years after the first settlement, Cayuga County had 15,097 people, an average of 1,200 accessions for over eleven years."
from Miskell's "Why Auburn".
We start this section with the birth of Jedediah Fay in 1727 in Westborough.    Jedediah married Elizabeth Brigham, and moved to Ashford, CT. Elizabeth was born on December 18, 1725 in Southborough to Nathan Brigham and Dinah Rice. Elizabeth and Jedediah were married in Southborough on October 10, 1749; Elizabeth and Jedediah both died in Connecticut on December 16, 1799 (see the Rice Book Supplement, the records of Southborough, NEHGS, and the Barbour collection).
Orlin knows of the birth of four children: Jedediah, whose line Orlin carries further; Elizabeth; Ephraim Brigham, born June 7, 1764; and Nathan.
According to the Barbour collection, Jedediah and Elizabeth actually had 7 children in Ashford:
Elisabeth, 2/20/1753
Dinah, 9/21/1754
....ah, 9/10/1756 [this may be Josiah]
Jedediah, 4/21/1760 [continued in Orlin]
Hepzibeth, 4/29/1762 m. Eliphalet Clark on 6/1/1785 d. 2/25/1814
Ephraim Brigham, 6/7/1764 [continued here]
Nathan, 3/2/1768 [continued in Orlin]
Jedediah, and most probably Elizabeth Brigham, are buried in Snow Cemetery, Ashford. So also are Ephraim Brigham Fay, his wife Elizabeth, and Harriet Fay, the daughter of Ephraim Brigham and Elizabeth Fay, who died 2/8/1823 at the age of 19.

The death of Elizabeth and Ephraim was noted in the newspaper:
Fay, Elizabeth, died May 3, 1814, age 51, Windham Herald May 19, 1814, page 86
Fay, Ephraim B. (Col.), Apr. 27, 1814, age 50, Windham Herald May 19, 1814, page 86
Ephraim B. Fay is listed in the census in Ashford for 1800 and 1810. In 1810, he is recorded with six children:
males: one 10-15; one 16-25
females: two under 10; one 10-15; one 16-25 (Harriet would be about 8)
One of the children of Ephraim Brigham Fay was Brigham Fay, born in Ashford July 5, 1796. I was sure of this for a long time before I finally found evidence for it. In Ephraim's will, admitted to probate in 1814 and settled in 1816, the two executors are William Fay and Heman Storrs; and seven heirs are listed.
At a Probate Court held at Pomfret in the
District of Pomfret May 29th AD 1816 present
Lem. Grosvenor Esqr Judge ---------------------
Personally appeared Capt. Heman Storrs one of the Administrators on the Estate of Corp. Ephraim B. Fay late of Ashford deceased he having been represented Insolvent & Commissioners appointed on said Estate & their Report being made & having settled their Administration Account the Estate appears to be Solvent & there remains in the hands of the Administrators the sum of Thirteen Hundred Seventyfive 2/100 of personal Estate to be distributed now moves to have distribution of the said sum among the legal heirs and representatives of said deceased which is granted & this Court doth appoint & fully impower Masters Jacob Eaton of Mansfield & David Reed of Ashford good & sufficient freeholders to make division & Distribution of the Estate (being wholly personal) of Col. Ephraim B. Fay late of Ashford deceased to & among the legal heirs & representatives of said deceased (viz.) there remaining in the hands of the Administrators to be distributed of personal Estate the sum of one thousand three hundred twentyfive dollars two cents of inventory ... and cash equally (viz.) to William Fay, Betsey Woodard, Norman Fay, Brigham Fay, Lucy Fay, Eliza Fay & Harriet Fay children of said deceased Equally, according to law & you are to be under oath for the purpose aforesaid & to make return of your doings to this court as soon as conveniently may be.
Children of Ephraim Brigham Fay (with what is known of them):
William Fay William was named as co-administrator of his father's will in 1814. I think he would have to have been at least 18; and the fact that he was named indicates that he was the oldest son. A birth date of about 1794 seems likely. It is also possible he was born much earlier. In 1794, Elizabeth would have been 30, and that was late to start a family. The census is of less help than usual here, since it looks as if Ephraim's household in 1800 includes his widowed mother and some of his siblings and perhaps some of their children.
Betsey FayBetsey is named Betsey Woodard at one place in the probate document. The “Windham Herald” announces the marriage of "Fay, Betsey, dau. of late Col. Ephraim" on June 30, 1814 to Woodworth, Jason Jun. in Ashford. There is no Woodworth or Woodard in the census, but there is a Jason Woodward and a Jason Woodward Jr. in 1820 and 1822. According to the Barbour Collection:

Fay, Betsey, Mrs., m. Philip Hayward, Esq., May 14, 1823, by Rev. Philo Judson

Woodward/Woodard, Jason, Capt., m. Tryphenia Sumner, b. of Ashford, Jan. 28, 1821, by Rev. Philo Judson

Did Betsey and Jason divorce and both remarry?
Norman FayNorman was alive in 1816; nothing further is known of him.
Brigham FayBorn 7/5/1796, died 8/6/1846. Line followed here.
Lucy FayFrom the Barbour Collection: Fay, Lucy, of Ashford, m. Miner Parker, of Mansfield, Mar. 11, 1821, by Rev. Philo Judson. Miner Parker died 3/1/1880, aged 84; Lucy was still alive in 1883, but feeble. Lucy Fay Parker and Miner had several children: Miner B.; Fielder F.; John; Eliza M.; William Ormond; Martha J. Miner B. married but apparently had no children; the others could not be traced with certainty.
Eliza FayThis is not a mistake. Ephraim did name one daughter Betsey and one Eliza, a combination I have not seen before, both being variants on Elizabeth. However, Ephraim's wife was Elizabeth, and his mother was Elizabeth. Perhaps he wanted to name a daughter for each. Eliza was alive in 1816, but nothing more is known of her.
Harriet FayHarriet died 2/8/1823 at the age of 19 years. She is buried with her father and mother in the Warrenville Cemetery at Ashford.
While the focus of this section is on Brigham Fay and his descendants, Brigham was not the only Fay to locate in Auburn during these early years. Hilem Bennett Fay and Edmund Bowen Fay, very distant cousins of Brigham, also settled in Auburn (see the overview of all three).
The first is Hilem Bennett Fay, who was named after uncle by marriage. Hilem's father Massilon had a son he named Hilem Bennett Fay; and Massilon's sister Nancy and her husband Hilem Bennett had a son named Hilem Fay Bennett.
Hilem was born July 2, 1844 (Orlin), and died February 4, 1935. He married Olive Maria Marten , who was born about 1846 and died April 12, 1929. Hilem is recorded in several census lists including the census of 1850 (where he is named 'Hiram'), 1880 (where he is called a "Segar Manufacturer"), the Auburn directories 1889-1892, and the census of 1900. According to the 1900 census, Hilem and Olive were married about 1867, and Olive had two children, of whom only one is living in 1900. That is William Clark, who was born February 1885, and is 15 in 1900.
Hilem had a brother Edward Nathan Fay, born November 5, 1852 (Orlin page 98). Ed also travelled to Auburn, and is found in various sources including the 1880 census and the city directories. By 1910, however, he is living in Syracuse, and his nephew William C., son of Hilem, has joined him.
In 1920, William is still in Syracuse, with his wife Charlotte M. By 1930, he and Charlotte have moved back to Auburn and are living with Hilem, who is now 85.
Olive M. Fay died April 12, 1929, and Hilem died February 4, 1935; both are buried in the Fort Hill Cemetery. The resting place of William and Charlotte is not known.
Orlin page 42 lists Edmund under the four children of Anson b. Feb. 22, 1789, d. 1846, m. Louisa Bowen of Syracuse, N.Y., res. Fulton, N.Y. The children are Darwin, b. & res. F.; Edmund, b.... Merchant. No. 40 Park Place, N.Y.City; Ann; Helen
The rest of our information about Edmund comes from a book Hughes and Allied Families (no bibliographic information in the book) and from the census. The book develops the line as follows:
LOVISA BOWEN, born Marcellus, New York, June 7, 1797; married to Dr. Anson Fay, of Fulton, Oswego County, New York, February 23, 1820. Anson fell from his horse in September 1849 and died four days later.

Ann Eliza Fay, March 3, 1821; m. 12/2/1849 to J. Ward Gaspar. Ann died 11/10/1851
Ann Eliza Gaspar, born December 13, 1850; m. to William Lewis Foster

Darwin Erasmus Fay, August 23, 1822; m. 12/26/1849 A. Gertrude Perrigo.
Helen G. Fay, born Nov. 3, 1850; m. to James S. Menleath

Edmund B. Fay, January 22, 1826; m. 1/4/1855 Mary Jane Lester, who was born June 30, 1837.
Walter Lester Fay, Feb. 5, 1859; Auburn.
E. Frank Fay, Aug. 16 1860, Brooklyn; d. October 1, 1861.
Lillian Bradley Fay, August 16, 1871, New York.
Mary Evelyn Fay, Jan. 5, 1875, Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Helen Sophia Fay, June 9, 1828; m. 10/22/1846 to Barney W. Van Epps. They lived in Mobile, Alabama, where she died November 22, 1847.
Barney W. Van Epps; m. Cordelia Ferris
While the book does not give Edmund's middle name, it seems likely that it is Bowen from his mother's maiden name.
Walter Lester Fay, born 2/5/1859, married Minnie G., born March 1867, and had two children:
Mildred Fay, born September 1892
Lester T. Fay, born August 8, 1897, married Jane B. and had at least one child:
Peter T. Fay, born about February 1929.
By 1930, Walter has left Auburn and is living with Minnie in Geneva, Ontario County; Lester is living in Brighton, Monroe County, NY.
Mary Jane Lester Fay died January 25, 1906, and is buried in the Fort Hill Cemetery. Next to her is the grave of "Edward B. Fay" died July 18, 1888; and close to her is the grave of "Edward B. Fay" died October 1, 1861. I think that these are Edmund B. and their son, Edmund B. or E. Frank, as the book lists him. The date of death for the younger man is identical to the one in the book. And the proximity argues for inclusion in the same family. The four names, Edmund, Edmond, Edwin and Edward, were frequently confused; the 1870 census, for example, lists Edwin as Edward.