The Fay Family: Genealogies: Joseph Belknap Fay

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Joseph Belknap Fay and his Descendants
Historical Sketches of the Town of Portland
Published 1873
Transcribed by Donna Mills and posted at the Chautauqua County NYGenWebSite.

FAY, Elijah (34)

Was the son of Nathaniel and Ruth Rice Fay, and was b. in Southborough, Mass., Sept. 9, 1781. He m. Lucy Belknap of Westborough Jan 20, 1807. Mrs. Fay was b. Dec. 1, 1785. They came to P. in the fall of 1811. The experiences of Mr. and Mrs. Fay – leaving their home in New England and seeking a home in the western wilds – is so truthful and so well sets forth the experience of so many others that it is inserted as furnished by Mrs. Fay and others of the family, together with many incidents of early life in P.

"They came to P. in a wagon drawn by a yoke of oxen and one horse, and were forty-one days on the road. Tearful and sad was the good-bye of loved ones, for the Holland Purchase was thought to be beyond the possibility of a return. Prayers and the blessings of endeared friends followed them. Last but not least, was the early call of the aged father of Mrs. Fay. He came bearing a Bible, his last and parting gift to a loved daughter. He spoke kindly, comforting words, and in humble faith as he traveled on beside the wagon to an adjoining town, reluctant to bid the final adieu. But it must come; the heart must yield the treasure to stern realities of frontier life and return to its place to rest in hope of a future meeting in other and better climes. Their household goods and farming implements were packed into the strong, well-built wagon that boasted no spring seat, but in place the well-filled ‘old red chest’ did service. Their slow plodding ox team drew its slow length along until Buffalo was reached, and in due time Canadaway, and soon Portland, the Eldorado of their hopes, and the comforts of a ‘lodge in some vast wilderness’ were greatly received and appreciated."

Mr. Fay had located the whole of lot 20, T. 5 – 179 acres – his article bearing date May 10, 1811. His deed from the Holland Company bears date May 10, 1820. The price paid for the lot was $547.97. No road has as yet been laid out through that part of the town and Mr. Fay reached his purchase by a path across the now farms of Chester Skinner and Linus Burton. The /first log house was occupied on the first of January 1812. It stood west of the house now on the farm, was without a door or window for a time, a blanket answering the place of the former against which a barrel was set at night. The pantry was but a single shelf against the logs. There was no chimney but a hole in the roof for the smoke. Chairs were not introduced for about three years, but in their place stools were used made of slabs split from a tree, hewed out with . an ax and into which three legs were fitted by means of an auger. Kettles were suspended over the fire by a chain fastened to a pole overhead. Within a year a better house was built, the old one converted into 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. "The land was thickly covered with trees over the whole town except the patches of clearing here and there. Roads were few and bridges among the things yet to be. No churches were formed or houses of worship erected. For many years when the settlers assembled for worship it was at some private dwelling. Under other circumstances it might have been amusing to watch the people assemble for worship. Much greater pains were taken to get to meeting than now. They would come for miles around, some on foot, some on horseback, mothers riding with their little ones behind them, some with ox sleds and some on mud boats. But their worship was none the less sincere. Now and then ‘Lo! The poor Indian,’ with a sad look, might be seen stealing a longing lingering look at his much beloved but now lost hunting grounds. The deer and lawless bear still disputed the right of possession. Many were the scenes grandmother passed through before becoming accustomed to frontier life and troublesome neighbors.

Occasionally we get a glimpse of their early doings for at times some incident will come into her mind and she will drop her knitting to relate it. Shopping then, she says, was not a mere pastime but a stern matter of fact and necessity. Going to the store was not a matter of every day occurrence. On such a day the work must be done up at an early hour and all things placed in order for leaving. The horse would be brought to the door, on which the woman would be seated with a little one and perhaps two, taken along for safe keeping. In this condition a ride of from seven to ten miles was necessary to procure the articles needed. It occupied a whole day and was the hardest day of the year. So for a friendly visit this was the usual mode of conveyance. These visits were a luxury. It did not matter if the social meal was partaken from off the lid of the family chest as a substitute for a table, it was as good and perhaps better than some others in better circumstances. Grandmother says that the most delicious teas she ever enjoyed were those when all had to be prepared while visiting. The molasses or maple sugar cake was baked before the fire and a pumpkin pie in the spider. She says: "You don’t know how well you can get along if you only think so. After I came out here I was a dress -maker, tailoress and milliner; and such bonnets! Well, they were all right then. What a job I had to make the first coat. Where to commence I did not know, but it must be done, and in due time it was finished, pressed and called a coat. The next time a similar garment was needed I exchanged works with a neighbor, she making the coat and I braiding straw sufficient for her a bonnet, not a sham top piece but a capacious covering for the head, requiring a hundred yards of fine seven strand braid.

I lived in constant fear for a year or more, with no neighbors nearer than a mile and no roads but a winding footpath. This fear was in no sense diminished by the presence of the tracks of bears and other wild animals near our door nearly every morning. In fact an old bear at one time carried away a pig from our yard in the daytime. The Indians were a constant terror to me. The first that visited our shanty so frightened me that I left everything and with my child under my arm ran a mile through the woods to the nearest neighbor, but to be told when I got there that I was foolish . But after a while my fears subsided and I enjoyed my life in the forest as well as I could so far from my early home and friends." The above incidents, furnished me by the family, are not given as anything peculiar in the history of the family of Mr. Fay but as setting forth as well the experience of all the early settlers. The hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Fay in early as well as after life was proverbial. No traveler was ever sent on his way unfurnished. More or less this was a characteristic of all the early settlers.

Mr. Fay was a farmer. He was not in the war of 1812, but furnished a substitute by the name of Huram Haines, paying him a bounty of $30. Mr. and Mrs. Fay were members of the Baptist church in P., uniting in Oct. 1819. For many years Mr. Fay held the office of deacon in the church. In politics he was a republican. The west portion of the village of Brocton is situated upon lands sold by him at various times to facilitate the settlement of the town and village. He was much in town office in those early years. It is scarcely possible to conceive of a man more prompt and methodical in all his business transactions. His old account book is a perfect diary of facts, events and dates. A few are here presented, not merely to show the character of the man in this particular, but the various shifts and modes of trafficking the early settlers were obliged to resort to:

Nov. 17, 1812 – Elisha did begin to take newspapers with me.

Dec. 7, 1813 – I did begin to take newspapers.

Dec. 30, 1814 – I paid Mr. Haines $30. in full for his son Huram going as a substitute for me a-soldiering as a volunteer.

Oct 28, 1816 – Hollis went to cut a road to his lot.

Aug. 25, 1817, then Hollis and Elijah did begin upon the sawmill.

Nov, 21, 1818, Henry Delong moved into my house at the lake lot. I agreed with him to chop for me a certain piece of woods, supposed to be four or five acres; to chop it fit for logging for eight dollars per acre, or that worth in produce, or he take a cow in part pay.

June 9 or 10 1823 I agreed with Chester Skinner to build me a barn 16 x 20 feet and finish it for use. The pay is as follows: I am to pay 20 lbs. Of salt pork when the building is finished. I am to let him have a small black cow, two dollars in money and forty-five apple trees more; the work to be done by 10th of Oct. next.

Thus every transaction is recorded and much of it very minute. Mr. Fay d. Aug. 23, 1860 and was bu. in the grounds at Brocton which were donated by him for burial purposes in 1820. Mrs. Fay d. Jan. 17, 1872, and was bu. by her husband.

Family of Mr. and Mrs. Fay –

    1. CLINTON SNOW: b. in Mass. June 25, 1810; m. Almira A. Clark Feb 13, 1842’ settled and still lives on a portion of the old homestead. He is a deaf mute from disease in early life.
    2. LYDIA E.: b. in P. May 28, 1815; m. Lawrence F. Ryckman Aug. 27, 1833; d. July 22, 1873; bu at Brocton.
    3. JOSEPH B.: b. in P. May 17, 1817; m. Maria M. Sage, dau. of Isaac Sage, Oct, 8, 1837; 2d Martha Haywood March 15, 1843; settled on a portion of the old homestead, but in 1872 sold out and now lives in Topeka, Kansas.

FAY, Hollis (33)

Was the son of Nathaniel and b. in Westbury, Mass., April 10, 1793. He came to P. in 1811 in company with his brother Elijah. He first articled the lot of land on which the east portion of Brocton is situated, N. W> p’t of lot 13, T. 5, but in 1815 sold to Moses Sage and articled p’t of lot 42, T. 5, in the N. W. corner of the town. For three years he lived alone in a small log cabin, the stones of the chimney of which can still be seen. In 1818 he returned to Mass., m. Phebe Mixer, dau. of Raymond Mixer, on June 16. Mrs. P. was b. in Mass. Jan 21, 1793. They at once started for their home in the west with an ox team and covered wagon. Their wagon was their sleeping apartment and the roadside their kitchen and dining room. The journey lasted six weeks. They lived upon their farm until 1851 when they removed to Concord, Erie Co., Pa., where Mr. Fay d. July 27, 1868. Mrs. Fay d. there the 19th of Oct. following. They were bu. in W. & P. U. Cemetery. Mr. and Mrs. Fay were members of the West Baptist church. Mr. F. was a whig and afterward a republican and never failed of voting at an election from the time he was old enough to vote. He was a brother of Elijah, Elisha and Nathaniel.

Family of Mr. and Mrs. Fay –

They had a family of three ch., one only surviving infancy, ROXANNA E., who was b. Dec. 20, 1822; m. Edmund Ellis Sept. 18, 1841; Mr. Ellis d. Oct 6, 1857; Mrs. Ellis now lives in Concord.

FAY, Nathan (2)

Was the son of Nathan, and b. in Southbury, Mass. He m. Batsey Clemens, who was b. in Hopkinton, same state. In 1805 Mr. Fay and David Eaton passed through P. on a prospecting tour, on foot, with their knapsacks on their backs, and on their return passed through the south part of the county. In May, 1806, Mr. Fay removed with his family of a wife and six ch. to P., settling on the farm now owned in part by Lincoln Fay, p't of lot 25, T5. His first house was a log but standing on the s. p't of the lot, nearly in front of the residence of E. Dension. Afterward he built a log house on a ridge of ground north of the house on the farm of Jonas H. Martin. In 1807 he built a log house near a spring in the rear of the present residence of S. S. Jones, on p't of lot 25, on land he purchased of James Dunn, the deed of which was the first executed in town. The article of his land bears date June 6, 1806. In 1807 Mrs. Fay d___ the first death in town and the first bu. in Evergreen Cemetery. In the fall of 1809 Mr. F. m. Miss Mercy Groves in Oneida Co., this state. He lived but a short time after this marriage, dying in June 1810. He was bu. by the side of his (1st) wife. Mr. Fay was a Deist, and in politics a "republican or its equivalent."

Family of Mr. and Mrs. Fay

(1) HATTIE:: m. Simeon Guyle; settled in Wisconsin : Mr. G. d. there : Mrs. G. is living with a son in Cleveland, Ohio.

(2) JOHN: m. Nancy McClintock; settled in Westfield, N. Y., but d. in Fulton, Ill.

(3) NATHAN: went to Michigan; m. and d. there.

(4) CUTTING: went south; supposed to be dead

(5) WILLARD: left home and was never heard from.

(6) ESTHER: lived in Ripley, this county: d. there about 1865.

(7) BETSEY: only one b. in P.; m. Samuel Moorhouse in 1829; now lives in Clark County, Missouri.

FAY, Elisha (4)

Was the son of Nathaniel Fay and Ruth Rice, his wife, and was b. in Framingham, Mass. June 2, 1783. He came to P. from Westbury, Worcester county, that state, in June 1806. He was then a young man and came in company with his brother Nathaniel, also a young man, and Nathan Fay and family. Mr. Fay located the E. p't of lot 25, T. 5., and erected his log cabin about ten rods east of the stone house now upon the premises and owned by Geo. Smith. He has lived upon this purchase 67 years, though some years as a boarder with his sons. His article bears date July 30, 1806. In 1807 he returned to Mass. and in Sept m. Sophia Nichols, who also was born in Framingham, in 1785. He came to P., a second time in company with James Parker, arriving in Nov. Mrs. F. walked long distances during the tedious trip, and all the way from Buffalo. A new log house was at once built. Mr. Fay was in the War of 1812 at Black Rock and Buffalo. He is the oldest actual settler in town now living (1873). Mr. and Mrs. F. became converts to the Christian faith in 1817, and became members of the M.E. church and afterward of that division known as Wesleyan, and were zealous and influential members. Mrs. Fay d. in Oct 1850, and was bu. in Evergreen Cemetery.

Family of Mr. and Mrs. Fay-

(1) LINCOLN: b. Aug 15, 1808; m. Sophronia Peck Dec. 31, 1835, and now lives upon the farm located by Nathan Fay in 1806, p't lot 25, T. 5.

(2) EDDIE: b. April 9, 1811; d. March 11, 1834.

(3) CHARLES: b. March 24, 1813; m. Laura A. Hall; lives upon a part of the old homestead.

(4) OTIS N.: b. Feb 5, 1820; m. Emeline Vantassel; lives in P. S.W. p't of lot 19, T. 5.

FAY, Nathaniel (8)

Came to P. in company with his brother Elisha. He was the son of Nathaniel, and was b. in Westborough, Mass. Jan. 25th 1785. He located pt. of lot 12, T. 5, 200 acres, June 17th 1810. It is now owned by his son Franklin. July 17th 1816-he m. Lydia Barnes, dau. of Calvin Barnes, of P. Mrs. Fay was b. in Norway, Herkimer County, N. Y., Jan. 17th 1798. They took possession of their first log house Dec. 2d 1816. The house now on the farm was built in 1841. Mr. Fay was a man of sterling integrity; was much in town office, and at the battle of Black Rock and Buffalo. He was a farmer. In religion Mr. Fay was a Universalist; in politics a Republican, though in early years a Democrat. He d. May 15th 1853. Mrs. Fay d. Sept. 4, 1872.

Family of Mr. and Mrs. Fay –

    1. MARY ANN: b. Mar. 23d 1818; m. Orrin Brainard, Mar 1 st 1841; first settled in Arkwright, afterward in Pomfret, where she d. Dec. 17th 1854. NOTE: they had 2 daus. And 3 sons.
    2. FRANKLIN: b. June 4th 1820; m. Catharine Bowdish, Jan. 22d 1845; now lives on the homestead. NOTE: he d. 20 Dec. 1895 survived by 4 ch. Frank, Fred and Carl Fay and Mrs. Ecker. Catharine d. 1893.
    3. NATHANIEL: b. July 14th 1822; m. Nancy Bowdish Dec. 17th 1845; settled in Stockton, this county; is now a clergyman of the M. E. church and stationed at Emlenton, Pa.
    4. LUCY: b. Oct. 23d 1830; d. Mar 6th 1847; bu. in Evergreen Cemetery.