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Adam Fay (1770 - 1843)
Asa Walker Fay (1838 - 1898)
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Asa Walker Fay

Obituary and Biographical Details

Contributed by Rebecca Lyn Lisansky Fay
-- The following article appeared in the Barre Gazette, a newspaper of Barre, MA, in April 1915. The article contains mistakes about Asa's ancestry and relatives. The author wrote to the family to get the correct facts, and then published a second article. The history of the articles and correspondence is given below.

Many of the older citizens of Barre will grieve to learn of the death of Asa M. Fay. He was born here August 13th, 1838, son of Adam and Esther Gilbert (Owen) Fay. His mother was a daughter of Phineas Smith Owen and Esther Gilbert Walker. The latter was a daughter of Dr. Asa Walker by his first wife, Esther Gilbert of Rutland. The old Dr. Walker was a great man in his day and represented the town in the General Court in 1806 and 1807. Another daughter, Isabella Walker, married David Fay and lived in the house on the Hubbardston road now occupied by Warren Gates. The child bearing his great-grandfather's name, Asa Walker Fay, grew to manhood here and sometime prior to the outbreak of the war married Miss Brooks of Phillipston, and for her built the house on James street now occupied by Ernest Rice. Here the first wife died and Asa married second his cousin, Eliza Owen. Stirred by patriotism he enlisted in he tenth Massachusetts battery in 1863 with sixteen other Barre boys. The battery saw a good deal of hard service, losing two of its commanding officers in the fight at Hatch Run and was with the army at the final surrender of the enemy at Appomatox just fifty years ago. After being mustered out in June, 1865, Mr. Fay returned to Barre for a while, but soon took his young wife to Westfield. He died there on Sunday, April 11th, 1915, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. C. G. Peasley. Besides this daughter he leaves two sons, Benjamin C. Fay of Holyoke and D. E. Fay of South Deerfield. The funeral on Tuesday at the Second Congregational church was in charge of the Roswell Lee Lodge of Masons of Springfield, of which he was a member. Burial was at South Hadley Falls. George W. Stetson and Frank Minns are the only comrades of Mr. Fay in the tenth battery still living in Barre and there are few others anywhere. Mrs. J. A. Coburn, who was Harriet Walker, is probably the nearest relative living here. Miss Laura F. Alnsworth is distantly connected by her father's first marriage.

-- Very soon after this was published, Mrs. Peasley, Asa's daughter, received a letter from Joseph E. Woods, who had apparently authored this first article. He had realized his mistakes in the article, and was endeavoring to correct them.

Telephone 87-2
April 16th, 1915
Mrs. C. G. Peasley
Deerfield, Mass.
Dear Madam,

I notice by a paragraph in the Boston Globe that you are the daughter of my old friend Asa Fay. I send you by this mail a copy of the Barre Gazette containing a brief nature of his death. I regret that in compiling the facts I fell into the error of stating that Mr. Fay's second wife was his step-sister - that is to say she was Eliza Owen, daughter of Phineas Owen by his first wife. Mr. Owen's second wife was Esther Gilbert Walker, and after death of Mr. Owen she married Adam Fay and became the mother of Asa Walker Fay. I shall be grateful if you will tell me if I have made any mistakes this time as I to set the matter right in the paper next week.

There was a curious belief here among some of Mr. Fay's old friends that he died about 25 years ago. I have heard some story of his having been shot in the head - causing some impairment of his intellect. I should be grateful

[next page] for any information concerning his history which you care to give to the public. Will you tell me the name of the Grand Army post to which he belonged and say if his comrades participated in his funeral?

Please do not consider this intrusion and accept my sympathy for the death of your father whom I well remember as a boy.

Very Respectfully,

Joseph E. Woods

P. S. I have just discovered that your great grandmother Elizabeth Gilbert of Brookfield (not Rutland) was daughter of Col. Joseph Gilbert who served with distinction at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

-- Mr. Woods must have heard from Mrs. Peasley, for he contributed a second article to the Gazette.

Concerning the death of Asa Walker Fay, noticed in the Gazette of last week, there has been considerable controversy because many of his old friends believed him to be dead long ago. We have ascertained the facts directly from the family and they are as follows: His mother was Esther Gilbert Walker Owen, widow of Phineas Smith Owen and daughter of Dr. Asa Walker. She had a daughter by her first husband called Eliza Owen, who died July 6, 1832. The first wife of Asa Walker Fay was Sara Brooks of Phillipston. She died about a year after the wedding and he then married Anna S. Brainerd of South Hadley, daughter of Benjamin Chapman and Eunice Perkins Ashley Brainerd. She died at the home of her son in Holyoke in 1908. The elder sister of Asa Fay was called Eliza Owen Fay, in memory of the young girl who died. She married Edward P. Haynes, son of Reuben Haynes of Greenwich, and both are still living at Niagara Falls, NY. Miss Seraph M. Haynes, a sister, married Hon. Thomas P. Root April 23, 1851. After Asa Fay left Barre he lived for about eighteen years in Springfield, whence for about four years he drove through the country towns one of the famous wagons drawn by four spirited white horses and belonging to Kibbe Brothers, the candy makers. Later he drove for the Waterville Cutlery Co. While driving for the latter he was attacked by a highwayman in June 1877, and received a gunshot wound in the head from which he suffered for nearly a year, but fully recovered and was in full mental vigor during the remainder of his life. After finishing a successful business career at Springfield he bought a large farm in South Deerfield which he cultivated for twenty years. Since 1904 Mr. Fay, and up to the time of her death, Mrs. Fay, have made their home in Westfield with their daughter Mrs. G. C. Peasley at 72 Montgomery Street. The funeral services were attended by some comrades and the Sons of Veterans (although he was not a member of the Grand Army) and were conducted by Rev. C. E. Holmes of the 2d Congregational Church. At the South Hadley Falls Cemetery services were by Rev. O. W. Hutchinson of Appleton Street Methodist Church. Mr. Fay leaves three children, ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. J. E. W.

The following short biography contains more detail about Asa's life
Written by Lillian Fay Gairdner, granddaughter of Asa Walker Fay

Asa Walker Fay was born August 12, 1838 in Barre, MA. Asa grew up in Barre. January 4, 1864, at the age of 25, he enlisted in the 10th Light Artillery Regiment Massachusetts, shortly after the birth of his first child with his second wife. This Battery was recruited at Boston by Henry H. Granger....1
Asa was mustered out on June 9, 1865 in Galloup's Island, Boston, MA. After returning home, Asa moved his family to Springfield, MA, where he lived for 18 years. For four years Asa drove through the country towns one of the famous wagons, drawn by four spirited horses, belonging to Kibbe Brothers, the candy makers. Later he drove as a salesman for the Waterville Cutlery Company. While driving for this company, Asa was attacked by a highwayman in June of 1877, and was shot in the head. As a result of this incident, many who had known Asa, and heard of the attack, believed him to have died. He suffered for nearly a year, but recovered full mental vigor during the rest of his life. To hide the scars from his wounds, Asa always wore a mustache and full beard, thereafter, causing many young children to call him Santa Claus. Later in life, Asa bought a large farm in South Deerfield, MA, which he cultivated for twenty years. He grew considerable tobacco, but after several years of crop failures, Asa sold the farm and went to live with his daughter Lillian in Westfield, MA, as well as spending some time with his son Benjamin, in Holyoke, MA. Asa died in Westfield, MA, April 19, 1915.

1For further information, consult Sleeper's Battery.

Benjamin Chapman Fay was born Dec 31, 1866 in Springfield, MA, where he grew up and graduated high school. After high school, Benjamin left Massachusetts for Gloucester, NJ, to work for his uncle, Benjamin Chapman Brainard Jr., who was superintendent of a cotton mill there. His family wanted him to work in the office, but before long, Benjamin managed to be transferred to the factory, where he helped keep the machinery running smoothly. While living in New Jersey, Benjamin met his future wife, Mary Ann Harrington, who worked for the Incandescent Light Company, making gas mantles. Before long, the cotton mill in New Jersey failed, and Benjamin returned to Massachusetts, but not before marrying his sweetheart Mary Ann, securing work as a millwright in one of the paper mills in Holyoke. Benjamin and Mary Ann settled in Holyoke. He became a Master Mechanic for the American Writing Paper Company and joined the Mt. Tom Masonic Lodge2 and later worked in their engineering department. In 1919, Benjamin accepted a position as Master Mechanic for the Detroit Pulp & Paper Company, and he moved his wife and three daughters to River Rouge, MI, where he lived for the next 30 years. Benjamin retired at about 65, and then enjoyed gardening and reading, being interested in history, mathematics, astronomy, and other subjects. He was Prelate Emeritus of Redford Commandry No. 55 Knights Templar; and a member of the River Rouge Lodge 174, RAM, No. 511, F & AM; and No. 454, OES. Benjamin died January 5, 1954 in River Rouge, MI and is buried in Woodmere Cemetery, Detroit, MI.

2 See the Masonic site on the USGenWeb, Hampden County.

Harrington Brainard Fay attended Holyoke High School. At the time of his marriage, he was a mechanical draftsman in the engineering department of the American Writing Paper Co. He was also at one time the superintendent of the Methodist Sunday School of Springdale. He was also active in the Mt. Tom Lodge (1927 Junior Warden, 1928 Senior Warden, 1929 Worshipful Master)