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Roxana Fay (7/3/1797 - 12/7/1876)
return to the family of Jonathan 1774 - 1837
The following biography is taken verbatim from Henry and Roxana Fay Carpenter's page in the family tree published at by John Carpenter Mosher. This family tree is remarkable for its listing of sources and its inclusion of biographical material of various kinds. It can be accessed as follows:
Go to There, click on "Family Trees," the middle tab at the top of the page. This should bring up another screen showing "Family Trees" on the left, and a boxed list on the right which includes "Ancestry World Tree." Or try using a direct link: At this point, you should search for "Roxana" "Fay" with the spouse's name "Henry Carpenter" and the birth date "1797" This should bring up the proper tree. This information is also given in the downloadable gedcom.
"The story of Henry and Roxana Carpenter has become a bit of a family mystery. It is evident that he and his wife Roxana Fay lived in the area of Syracuse, New York for some time before coming west to Illinois. It is believed that the Carpenters made the trip west with Roxana's parents, Jonathan Fay and his children, arriving in late 1836 or very early 1837. It is also evident that either Henry died along the way and never arrived at all or that he died very shortly after his arrival. The Fay family has a family story that Jonathan Fay died in Chicago on his way to the "Great West" and that his widow was in 1859 living in Squaw Grove, Illinois. With his date of death being given as January 1837, perhaps he was traveling with his daughter Roxana and this could also be an explanation to what happened to Henry Carpenter.
"Andrew Stevenson in his book Family Histories I relates the story: "Mary Carpenter Hardin (Jerome's daughter) speaks of her father growing up in Syracuse, NY and Salina, which had continued as independent until 1847, then did become the first Ward of Syracuse. She speaks of him as a boy of driving on the Erie Canal, when the boats were drawn by horses." No Henry shows up in New York until the 1830 census in Salina, Onondaga County.
"The book "The Carroll-Greene County History (Iowa) of 1887" contains a biography for Henry Carpenter, Jr. (dated 1887) and states: "Mr. Carpenter was born in Onondaga County, New York, in 1834, a son of Henry and Roxana M. (Fay) Carpenter, natives of Vermont and New York. In 1836 his father moved to Ottawa, Illinois, where he soon after died, and his mother afterward pre-empted land in DeKalb County, where the family were among the first settlers."
"The minutes of the "Organization of the First Temperance Society in DeKalb County, Somonauk, March 9, 1847" has "The Pledge - We hereby pledge ourselves that we will abstain from the use of all intoxicating drinks as a beverage and that we will use our best endeavors to dissuade others from the use of them." The Pledge is signed, among others, by: Byron Carpenter, Augusta Carpenter, Roxanna Carpenter, Josepha Lay and Rhoda S. Fay.
"The Town of Ottawa, Illinois was settled in about 1831 and is on the banks of the Illinois River. Also running there is the Illinois & Michigan (I&M) Canal. The membership records of the First Presbyterian Church of Ottawa show Augusta Carpenter being received February 10, 1850 and being dismissed in 1854. They show Mrs. Roxanna Carpenter as received November 9, 1850 via a letter from the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Somonauk, Illinois and dismissed by letter in 1854.
"The Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales Database in the Illinois State Archives indicate that Roxana Carpenter acquired one parcel of land in Squaw Grove Township, DeKalb County on February 15, 1843 and two more adjoining parcels on November 19, 1847. Her son Jerome and several of her Fay brothers were also acquiring adjoining or nearby parcels in Squaw Grove Township during the same period.
"The 1840 Census shows Roxana Carpenter living in Squaw Grove Township, DeKalb County, Illinois without Henry but with most all of her children. The 1850 Census shows Roxana Carpenter now living in Ottawa, LaSalle Co., Illinois with only her two youngest children, Byron and Augusta. The 1860 Census shows Roxana living in back in DeKalb County in Sandwich with her daughter Augusta and husband Henry A. Adams. The 1870 Census shows her living in Somonauk with Henry and Augusta Adams. DeKalb and LaSalle Counties are located one above the other with the towns of Somonauk and Sandwich right on the border in Squaw Grove Township. Ottawa is some 25 miles to the south of Somonauk.
"Based upon all of this evidence, I believe the sequence of events is that Henry and Roxana Carpenter came to the Ottawa, Illinois area in some way related to the construction or establishment of the I&M Canal. The Fay's were primarily farmers and settled slightly further north in the Squaw Grove area of DeKalb County. Something evidently happened to Henry very shortly after arriving but so far no records have been located to say just what. Roxana at that time would have been pregnant with Byron and Augusta and must have relocated north to Squaw Grove to get assistance from her mother and brothers with the birth and raising all of her young children. In 1840 she is still in DeKalb County and while there, in 1843 and 1847, she acquired Public Domain Land Tracts either to farm herself with her sons or for the benefit of her brothers who were already engaged in farming.
"By 1850 two of Roxana's children, Thaddeus and Henry, were living and farming with her brother Horace Fay in Squaw Grove Township, DeKalb County. But Roxana herself had returned to the Ottawa, LaSalle County area but with only the two youngest children, then 13, perhaps to be near another group of Carpenters that show up there or perhaps with other families that she and Henry used to live near. No specific connections or relationships are evident. By 1860, the entire family is located back in DeKalb County engaged in farming with Augusta newly married to Henry A. Adams and Roxana living with them.
"Minnie Gertrude Adams remembers her Grandma Roxana very well because she lived with the Adams' in the family home and Minnie was 14 when she died. 'She was a woman who met hard things bravely and, to me, is a real heroine. She was left a widow when she was quite young, with six sons and one daughter. The youngest son, Byron, being a twin to my mother, Augusta. It is my impression that the twins were born after the death of her husband, Harry Carpenter, of whom we know very little. She had a small farm and here grandmother raised her family. She ran the farm as best she could and did tailoring for her neighbors as a source of extra income.' 'Grandmother Roxanna was a dark haired, dark eyed woman. She had a slender figure and was about average height, possibly a little more. She never lost that erect slimness and, in spite of the hard work she had done, she had a sort of stately bearing - a little 'hauteur' that gave her a dignity that was pleasing. She had a keen sense of humor and was fond of good reading. She took a great interest in national affairs and was a strong abolitionist. In her farm neighborhood was one of the stations of the "Underground Railroad" for escaping slaves.'"