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Jay Families of Mercer County

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Alternate Spellings - Jay, Gay

Links - Burleigh, Maxfield

Contacts - Judy Christian contacted us for a cemetery lookup on the Jays and that prompted us to put up information we have had for awhile and start a Jay page. She gave us the alternate spelling of Gay. (There were a number of Gay families in America by 1790 but no Jay families so Gay may have been an earlier spelling).

From Past and Present of Mercer County (1914) we learn that Albert and Agnes Jay, brother and sister, were living on a farm in Abington township where their births occurred. Their father was George Jay, a native of Pennsylvania, born 1806, who came to Mercer County in 1835. His father, also named George, settled at the same time. This is born out as we find land records on July 8, 1835 where George Jay purchased the E2NW and W2NW Section 7 in Township 13 North Range 4 West (future Abington Township.). Then George Jay Jr purchased the W2SW of Section 6 on April 5, 1836. Curiously, there is a James Jay listed as obtaining 160 acres by military warrant in SW Section 1, Township 15N Range 4W (future Duncan Township) on 11/29/1817. It is very unlikely that he actually came to Mercer County as these were bounty lands given for the War of 1812 and the recipients lived in the East and most never set eyes on the land (for a complete explanation see our History - Part 1. We have no way of knowing whether this James Jay was a relative or not.

In the 1840 census for Township 13 North Range 4 West we find George Jay, Sr.: 1 male 60-70, 1 female 10-15, and 1 female 60-70. George Jay, Sr. is buried in New Boston Cemetery, died May 26, 1846, age 67 years. We do not know where George, Jr. was in the 1840 census but we find that he married Nancy Maxfield on November 26, 1840 in Mercer County as recorded in Illinois Marriage Records (may be license date). In 1850 we find George Jr. in Township 13 N Range 4 W: George Jay, 43, carpenter, born Pa; Nancy, 39, born Maine; Alva, 9, born Il; Mira, 7, Il; Alice, 4, Il; Unnamed Jay 3/12, male and Unnamed Jay 3/12 female, both born Il, and George’s mother Mary Ann Jay, 73, born Pennsylvania. Mary died April 29, 1856, age 83 years and is buried in New Boston Cemetery next to George Jay, Sr.

Judy Christian tells us that George Jay Sr was married to Mary Ann Wisner Burleigh. We are not sure which is her maiden name. We do know from the obituary of Emily Spry Burleigh: “Mrs. Burleigh was born in Pennsylvania in 1806. She removed to Muskingum County, Ohio when quite a child. She was married to James Burleigh in Jan. 1824 and came with her own and her husbands family the Jays, to Illinois in 1839 landing at New Boston on the 5th of May.” This date is a little off from the 1835 and 1836 dates given above for land purchases for the two George Jays so we are not sure if this is the relationship referred to or not. In the 1860 census there are three Jay girls working as domestics for various families in Mercer County: Mary Jay, 17, working for the Josiah Maxfield family (brother of Nancy Maxfield Jay - coincidence or relative?); Catharine Jay, 16, working for a Kinneman family; and Isabella Jay, 18, working for a Spitznogle family. They are not found in Mercer in 1850 so do not know for sure who they belonged to but they do not fit into the George Jay, Jr. family. And it is not clear which Jays that Emily Spry Burleigh was related to.

Judy Christian tells us that George Sr’s father John Jay supposedly came to Mercer County with the family. If he did he was deceased by 1840 and no burial is found for him in Mercer County. We did some searching in Ohio and Indiana records but the name John Jay is too common to identify him.

George and Nancy Maxfield Jay Family

The History of Mercer County, 1882 tells us that George Jay was elected Justice of the Peace for Abington Township on November 6, 1849.

The 1850 census is given above for George and Nancy, as is their marriage record. In 1860 they are listed in Keithsburg: #619 George Jay, 54, farmer, born Pa; Nancy, 42, born Maine; Alvin, 18, Il; Myra, 16, Il; Alice, 15, Il; Albert, 12, Il; Linda, 11, Il; Agnes, 8, Il; Eva, 5, Il; Hannah, 3, Il. Comparing this to the 1840 census evidently Albert and Linda were the unnamed twins in the 1840 census. In 1870 they are listed in Abington #19 George Jay, 64, farmer, Pa; Nancy, 52, Maine; Alice, 24, school teacher, Il; Linda, 20, Il; Albert, 20, Il (twins); Agnes, 17, Il; Ira, 15 (male), Il; Hattie, 12, Il.

Son Alvah Jay married Lina C. Calhoun 1/21/1880. Her name was Delina per her tombstone (we will add their cemetery records). They are found in the 1900 census in Ohio Grove: Alva Jay, born Feb 1842, 58, married 20 years, born Il, father Pa, mother Maine; L. C., born Oct 1852, no children born, Oh, Pa, NY. Alvah Jay served in Company G 102nd Illinois Infantry. He enlisted August 9, 1862 and was mustered out June 6, 1865. He died March 18, 1915 per his tombstone (birth 1842). Delina's tombstone reads Delina C., wife of Alva Hay 1851-1924. They had no children.

Daughter Myra Jay married Albert R. Wycoff, son of Joseph and Matilda Davis Wycoff, on 10/17/1861 in Mercer County. They have two small daughters buried next to Albert’s parents in Greenmound Cemetery: Iva, died March 25, 1864, age 25 days and Alice died Jan 1, 1867, age 2 mos. In 1870 they are living with Albert’s parents in Keithsburg Township: #51 Joseph P. Wycoff, 51, farmer, born Oh; Matilda, 50, Oh; Albert, 28, farmer, In; Myra, 26, Il; Earl I., 1. They are still in Keithsburg in 1880 with additional children Lura, born about 1873 and Ethlin Fern, born about 1876. Joseph Wycoff had been a Captain in the Union Army but was forced to resign due to illness. Albert was his only child so it is possible that Albert took care of his father for the rest of his life.

Daughter Alice Jay married Harry J. Collier in Mercer County on 1/18/1871. In 1880 they are found in Moundville, Vernon County, Missouri: Harry J. Collier, carpenter, 33, born NY, parents born NY; Alice, 33, born Il, parents born Maine; May, daughter, 1, born Mo.

Daughter Hannah Jay (Hattie) married John M. Candor on January 2, 1883 in Mercer County. They are buried in Candor/Pope Creek Cemetery: John M. Candor Aug 3, 1852-April 4, 1898; Hattie Jay, wife of John M. Candor, Sept 8, 1857-Feb 17, 1894; Ethel, dau of J. M. and H. J. Candor, Nov 5, 1883-Aug 10, 1962. Nearby a probable son: Robert J. Candor, Nov 20, 1885-______; Edith S, wife of R. J. Candor, Mar 28, 1879-Oct 27, 1956.

From the New Boston Cemetery records given below it appears that Linda Jay married Marshall P. Austin. We searched both Illinois and Iowa marriage records and found nothing, nor did we find any census records for Marshall P. or Linda Austin in 1870. Apparently he and Linda did not have children (from her early death she may have died in childbirth). We did find a Marshall P. Austin of the right age in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1900 and he had remarried about 1884 and the children listed were all from the second wife.

Buried in New Boston Cemetery we find: George Jay, born November 28, 1806, died October 14, 1897; Nancy, wife of Geo Jay, born March 27, 1818, died May 16, 1879; Linda J., wife of Marshall P. Austin, born March 24, 1850, died Jan 30, 1876; Albert Austin 1850-1923; Agnes Austin 1852-1932; Vashti Austin 1851-1925 (this is actually Vashti Gibson, wife of Willard Austin). Note the DAR records have a question mark after the Austin surnames of Albert and Agnes and we strongly suspect they are actually Albert and Agnes Jay, children of George, Jr., as reflected by their birthdates. Apparently the tombstone readings were not clear.

Albert and Agnes Jay and more on the George Jay families

From Past and Present of Mercer County (1914)

“Albert and Agnes Jay, brother and sister, are still living upon the farm in Abington township where their births occurred. Their father, George Jay, now deceased, was a native of Pennsylvania, born in 1806. In 1835, as a young man of about twenty-nine years, he came to Mercer County, Illinois. His father, who also bore the name of George, settled here at the same time, locating on a farm on section 6, Abington township. George Jay, Jr., eventually came into posession of the homestead and made it his place of residence until his death, which occurred when he had reached the venerable age of ninety-one years. He was one of the early settlers of the county and performed well his part in transforming the wild prairie land into a prosperous agricultural region. He lived to be one of the oldest residents of the county and was a well known figure. His wife, who in her maidenhood was Nancy Maxfield, bore him eight children. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and was ever ready to contribute her share to the support of any worthy object. She passed away at the age of sixty-one years. Those of the children who are still living aside from our subjects are: Mrs. A. R. Wycoff, of Keithsburg; Alva, a retired farmer of Aledo; and Mrs. Alice J. Collier, of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The others of the family were Mrs. Linda J. Austin and Mrs. Hattie J. Candor, both deceased; and Ira J. who went to Alaska and has not been heard from for over fourteen years.

“Albert and Agnes Jay have always lived upon the home place and cared for their parents in their declining years. After the death of their father and mother they came into possession of the farm, consisting of two hundred and forty acres. Under their supervision the affairs of the farm and household run smoothly and prosperity has attended their efforts. The farm is thoroughly equipped with all of the buildings necessary to the operation of a modern agricultural property and the residence, which has but recently been erected, is one of the beautiful homes of the county. Representatives of one of the oldest pioneer families, our subjects have maintained the honor of the name and are held high in the estimation of their fellowmen.”

Other Jays in Mercer County

Above we mentioned an unknown Isabella Jay working for the Spitznogle family in 1860. There is a Bell Jay who may be her found “staying in” with the Samuel Darbyshire family in 1880 in Perryton Township. He was the overseer of the Poor Farm and his family was evidently caring for Bell. Her age is given as 43, and born Virginia so is not a close match with the Isabella of 1860 and may not be her. Bell is found in 1900 in the general population of the Poor Farm and her age and date of birth are not given and she is given as born Il which does match with 1860.

9/30/2007 Added cemetery records for the family of George and Nancy Jay.
10/31/2007 Added more information on Alvah and Delina Calhoun Jay.