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Contributed by Thomas S. Cook
Betsy's page
Photographs of the Old Stone House
My family's connection to the remarkable Fay Family seems to begin in May of 1779 when Elizabeth "Betsy" Fay married a local young soldier by the name of Joseph Hunt in Hardwick Massachusetts.
Joseph was the youngest son of John and Mary Hunt. His father John had been one of the early settlers of the town, and kept a farm and tavern on the outskirts of the community. Joseph was sixteen when Massachusetts joined the other colonies in declaring independence and must of heard the stories of many a soldier as they stopped at the tavern on their war to their companies and the war.
According the documents in his pension file, Joseph enlisted in American army in the summer of 1776. John Gorham of Hardwick testified in 1840 that "…. in June or July 1776 I enlisted into a company of Infantry, Commanded by Capt. Daniel Warner of said Hardwick, which Company was annexed to a Regiment commanded by Col Silas Holman of Sterling in said County, in a Brigade Commanded by Gen. Fellows. Joseph Hunt of said Hardwick enlisted with me into said Company, and we were marched to New Haven in the State of Connecticut, from whence we went by shipping to New York…."
Joseph and his comrades would have been just in time for the Battle of Long Island, where the Americans suffered defeated at the hands of superior British forces in August. Gorham goes on to say that Joseph "remained with me in this service until we were discharged, which, I think, was in November of the year aforesaid (1776); it is my belief that this period of service was five months."
It is likely that Joseph helped his father with his farm and business through the winter, waiting for better weather (and perhaps encouraging news) to rejoin the fight. The pension documents indicate that he re-enlisted in on April 1st 1777 in Hardwick as a private in Captain Daniel Shays Company in the 4th Massachusetts Regiment. He would serve two years in the Massachusetts line, but not without controversy.
Records indicated that Joseph was reported as "deserting" his Company on February 18th, 1778. This seemingly serious charge later complicated his family's application for a pension. But two extenuating facts temper the charge of desertion. First, he had rejoined his unit by April; secondly, his "desertion" took place four days after his father's death. It is likely that he traveled home to take care of his father's affairs and be with his family. One advocate later argued that although he actually did stay a few days beyond his furlough that it was "not a willful act of desertion". Gorham stated, "In the course of his term of service, Hunt came home on a furlough. His Father had then recently died, leaving said Joseph considerable property. Said Joseph Hunt hired a substitute, who took his place is the army. I do not know how long this substitute remained in the service…."
The records show that he did return to his Regiment, and was one of the "Continental Soldiers" paid in Hardwick on May 9th, 1779. The date may be significant - it was one week before he married seventeen year old Betsey Fay!
Joseph stayed in the Army until March 31st, 1780 and then returned to Hardwick to raise his family, probably returning to the family tavern and farm. By 1790 he had moved to Bennington Vermont with Betsey and five children. The next year Betsey gave birth to a son they named Daniel Fay Hunt. It is possible that Joseph and Betsey had as many as eleven children. Eventually some of the Hunt children moved to Franklin County in the northwestern part of Vermont. Joseph and Betsey eventually followed them to Fletcher, and then to nearby Fairfax Vermont. It was there that Joseph died in 1811. Betsey married a widower by the name of Resolved Grosvenor. She died in Fairfax in 1841.
A few years after Joseph's death, Daniel carried the Fay name west into the frontier of Western New York. He settled on the Holland Land Purchase in 1816 and raised a large family and eventually a fine stone house in the town of Ridgeway, Orleans County. There he raised his family, naming his eldest son Daniel Fay Hunt Jr.
The Fay name remained in our family at least two more generations. Daniel Fay Jr named a little boy Fay in 1855 - he died that same year and is buried in the family plot in the Daniels Cemetery in Ridgeway.
Two of Daniels siblings also used the Fay name as given names. In our line the name passed through Daniel Jr's daughter Elnora, who named one of her sons Daniel Fay Hunt Allen. Gr-Great Uncle Daniel passed away in 1953 and so did our family's memory of the Fay name.
Work on the Allen family genealogy in recent years has led us back to the line that stretches back to colonial Massachusetts. We are proud to take our place in the Fay Family history, and we hope that the younger generations of our family will bring the Fay name back into our family line.
For more information on our family, you are invited to visit our website at
Thomas S Cook, Nunda NY