The Fay Family: Joseph Belknap Fay and Chautauqua County

Joseph Belknap Fay (1817 - 1886)
And his Descendants
Fays in the History of Chautauqua County
Photo contributed by Phil Palen
John Fay
David (OPF #6) (4/23/1679-4/10/1738) son of John and Susanna Shattuck
Robert (OPF #8) (7/20/1715 - 12/19/1820) son of David and Sarah Larkin
Nathaniel (OPF #60) (9/18/1747 - 8/22/1812) son of Robert and Elizabeth Joslin
Elijah (OPF #218) (9/9/1781 - 8/23/1860) son of Nathaniel and Ruth Rice
Joseph Belknap (OPF #693) (5/17/1817 - 1/20/1886) son of Elijah and Lucy Belknap
Joseph Belknap was born in Brocton, New York, about three miles from Portland. Joseph's father Elijah, his uncles Elisha and Nathaniel, and his cousin Nathan, had moved from Southborough, the original home of the families, to Portland (see Nathan 1772). There were two waves of immigration for this family. The first group, with David Eaton and Nathan Fay scouting the land out first, included both David and Nathan, and Elisha and Nathaniel, cousins of Nathan (see below for a sketch of the family connections). This wave took place in 1805-1806. The details of the 'scouting expedition' and the resulting move from Southborough to Portland are the subject of David Eaton: A Biographical Sketch by H. C. Taylor, who wrote so much about the history of that area. The second wave, about 1811, included Hollis and Elijah, who was to become Joseph's father. It was Elijah who is credited with having introduced the grape into the region.
Deacon Elijah Fay moved to the town of Portland in 1811 from Southborough, Massachusetts, and settled at Salem Cross Roads, now the village of Brocton. He planted the first grape vine on his property in 1818. The vines grew profusely but the fruit was inferior quality. He tried again in 1822 with no luck, for the fruit mildewed. A few years later, Fay purchased William R. Prince of Flushing, Long Island, and roots of Isabella and Catawba. Those varieties grew with excellent production of fruit.
It took several years before the early settlers became familiar with the luscious flavor of these grapes. In 1830, Fay made the first juice using the Isabella and Catawba variety. In the meantime, other settlers purchased nursery stock from Lincoln Fay (son of Elisha brother to Elijah) and began growing their own vineyards.
Lincoln first introduced Concord grapes for juice in the 1850s. In 1851, Joseph Fay, son of Elijah, started growing Concord grapes, and in 1857, along with another early settler H. A. Burton, planted the first large planting of grapes on a quarter of an acre. This was the beginning of the grape industry in Portland.
The wine industry began in town with the creation of the Brocton Wine Cellars, which was established by Joseph B. Fay, Rufus Haywood, and G. E. Rykeman (Elijah Fay's son-in-law)....
--from Brocton and Portland (2007) by Edward T. Kurtz Sr., page 69
text, and images and captions below, reprinted with permission
book available from Arcadia Publishing online
Elijah Fay established the first winery in 1830. The wine was made from Isabella and Catawba grapes. There was about 10 gallons made for medicinal and sacramental purposes. Gradually the little vineyard grew to produce 300 to 500 gallons per year. This was the first grape label used in Chautauqua County shortly after Salem Cross Roads's name was changed to Brocton.  (Brocton and Portland, page 71)
The first juice that Deacon Elijah Fay, founder and deacon of the First Portland Baptist Church, made was used for medicinal and sacramental purposes. This is an 1840s handbill with testimonials from pastors and doctors certifying that Fay's juice was pure and without alcohol.  (Brocton and Portland, page 70; image has been cropped)
The Brocton Wine Cellars Winery was established 1859. These are lithographs of the winery and G. E. Ryckman residence and greenhouse as it appears in the 1867 Chautauqua County Atlas. Elijah Fay constructed his log cabin on this site, which was the first residence in Brocton. His son-in-law then built this elegant brick home. The home is still standing and is a private residence.  (Brocton and Portland, page 72)
The Chautauqua County NYGenWebSite is a rich source of material for the early history of Chautauqua County, and for the Fays, who played such a significant role in its development. The Fays were among the earliest settlers of Portland and received considerable attention in HISTORICAL SKETCHES of the TOWN OF PORTLAND by H.C. TAYLOR, M.D. (published 1873) [click here to read], as well as in the History of Chautauqua County New York by Andrew W. Young [click here for Fay selections].
The Portland Fays are also listed in Family History of Central NY, Vol. II, pp. 819-820. The following material is copied from those pages, with comments set off. After tracing the line very briefly from John to David to Aaron, the text continues:
(IV) Nathaniel, fourth child of Captain Aaron Fay by his first wife, was born February 6, 1747, died in Southborough, Massachusetts, August 10, 1812. He married Ruth Rice. Sons: Elijah, Elisha, Nathaniel and Hollis, all of whom were among the early settlers of the town of Portland, Chautauqua county, New York. Elijah and Elisha have further mention. Nathan Fay, not a brother, also settled early in the town.
The names of seven sons are recorded in Orlin, and seven daughters.

Nathan ('not a brother,' 'not an uncle') was the son of Nathan (Orlin #110) and Lucy Bemis. He was born 4/28/1772, and was actually a second cousin of Elijah (see below). Part of his story is told in a biographical sketch of David Eaton written by H. C. Taylor.
(V) Deacon Elijah Fay, son of Nathaniel Fay, was born in Southborough, Massachusetts, September 9, 1781, died in Portland, Chautauqua county, New York, August 23, 1860. He married, prior to 1811, Lucy Belknap, of Westborough, Massachusetts, who died January 18, 1872.
The marriage between Elijah and "Lucy Belknup of Westborough" on January 20, 1807, is recorded in the Vital Records of Southborough. The intentions are recorded in Westborough; Lucy's name is spelled "Belknap", and the date is December 18, 1806.
In 1811 he came with his wife to Portland in a wagon drawn by a yoke of oxen and a horse; forty-one days were consumed in making the journey from Massachusetts. He settled on lot No. 20, township No. 5, one hundred and seventy-nine acres; his first log cabin was built and ready for occupancy, January 1, 1812. The next year he built a better house, using the first as a barn and enclosing the space between for a thresh-/ing floor. Three years later a still better house was built, which the family occupied in 1831, when the present residence was built. Mr. Fay was a man of prominence in the town; he was one of the founders of the Baptist church and one of its early deacons. He is the father of the grape industry in western New York; and in 1830 made the first wine ever made in Chautauqua county, ten gallons, all of which was used for sacramental purposes. Children: Clinton S., married Almira A. Clark; Lydia E., married Laurance E. Ryckman; Joseph B., married (first) Maria M. Sage, (second) Martha Haywood.
As can be seen from various census records, these families seem to have formed a tight group and remained close for a long period of time.
(V) Elisha; son of Nathaniel Fay and brother of Deacon Elijah Fay, was born in Framingham, Massachusetts, June 2, 1783. He came to Portland in June, 1806, and at the time of his death was the oldest actual settler in Portland. He settled on lot No. 25, on which he lived about seventy years. In 1807 he returned to Massachusetts, and married, September 7, 1807 [recorded in the vital records of Southborough], coming back with his bride, Sophia Nichols. He then built a new log house, which he occupied until 1828, when he built a stone house, which is now standing. He served in the war of 1812, and was in battles at Black Rock and Buffalo. He was an early member of the Methodist Episcopal church, later joining the Wesleyan Methodist. His wife, Sophia, died October, 1850; and after her death he conntinued to reside on the old farm with his son. Children: Lincoln, of further mention; Edward, died aged twenty-three years; Charles, married Lydia A. Hall; Otis N., married Emmeline Van Tassel.
(VI) Lincoln, son of Elisha Fay, was born in Portland, Chautauqua county, New York, about 1808. He became owner of the homestead located in 1806 by Nathan Fay (not an uncle). He married Sophronia Peck.
(VII) Elisha II, son of Lincoln Fay, was born in Portland, New York, June 21, 1844, died October 23, 1910. He married Ada Dodge.
(VIII) Berneda, daughter of Elisha II. She married, May 5, 1891, George W. Fuller (see Fuller IX).
As it turns out, all four of the brothers who went to Portland saw service in the War of 1812, as did John, who lived in the next village of Westfield.




These men in the New York militia had not been trained as soldiers; they were farmers and laborers defending their homes. They took part in the disastrous attacks on Black Rock and Buffalo. These attacks were made by the British in retaliation for the burning of Newark, a defenseless town, on the orders of Gen. George McClure. The British crossed the river, and over the last days of December 1813, pressed on towards Buffalo, destroying and killing as they went. The campaign ended with the total destruction of Buffalo and Black Rock, as well as four ships docked at Black Rock. There is an excellent account of the battle and events leading up to it in History of Buffalo.
1888 map by George Franklin Cram
Descendants of Joseph Belknap Fay
(Sixth Generation)
Contributions from Lisa Marie Fay Dozier and Martha Soltesz
Joseph Belknap Fay married Maria Sage on October 8, 1837.
Maria was born 2/19/1817 and died 10/29/1840.
7   Ransom H. Fay	1838 - 1851
7   Maria S. Fay  1840 - between 1900 and 1910
    +Samuel H. Selleck m. 10/12/1859 b. 1832 d. before 1870
........	8   Julia Sellick  b. 1861
    +Frederick (or Francis) French   b. 1835
........	8   Lucy M. French  b. 11/1873
.............	    +Herbert Monlux  b. 2/1874
...................	9   Anna Faye Monlux  1902 -
...................	9   Gladys Monlux  1905 -

On March 15, 1843, Joseph married Martha Haywood.
Joseph died January 20, 1886. Martha died June 29, 1896.

7   Evaline (Emeline) M. Fay	1/1844 - 1/9/1903
    +Royal Clinton Bradshaw    8/4/1842 -
........	8   Joseph Bradshaw    1869 - 1/22/1890
........	8   Martha Bradshaw    10/1874 - 
.............	    +Walter M. Cust   9/1866
7   Joseph Ransom Fay	1855 -
    +Vesta Ransom	1859 -
........	8   Joseph Ransom Fay	1894 -
.............	    +Permelia North  1892 -
...................	9   Frank North Fay  1918 -
...................	9   James Ransom Fay  1919 -
.......................	    +Nettie Elaine Cole	1918 -
...................	9   Donald Eugene Fay	1920 - 1985
.......................	    +Roselyn Roberts	1923 -
.............................	10   Gary Fay
.................................    +(1) Vicki
.................................    +(2) Carole
.............................	10   Robert Wayne Fay
.................................    +Beverly Ann Bliss
.................................    11   LISA MARIE FAY
.....................................	  +Nathan Thomas Dozier
.................................    11   Robert Michael Fay
.......................	    +Ginny (2rd wife of Donald Eugene)
.......................	    +Verna (3nd wife of Donald Eugene)
...................	9   John Hardiman Fay 1923 -
...................	9   Vesta Susan Fay 1928 -
.......................	    +Franklin Trantina
........	8   Martha Susan Fay	1896 -
........	8   Donald Haywood Fay	1899 -

January 2003, updated June 2003