This post originated on the FAY message board.
Ethan Allen and FAY Connection
by Michele FitzGerald
There was ample evidence in the 18th century of a close and personal relationship between Col Ethan Allen, the notorious leader of the Green Mountain Boys in Vermont, and the Fay family who owned and operated the Catamount Tavern at Bennington, VT. to attempt any denial on the matter. To my knowledge the only spirited descendant by the fertile efforts of Col Allen remained the state of Vermont.
There appeared no marriage between the two families of Allen and FAY as might be expected or assumed. My personal research satisfied my curiosity on the matter. Dr. Jonas Fay (Stephen, John, John) appeared closest to Col Allen by virtue of naming his twins in 1779 Ethan Allen Fay and Heman Allen Fay. In the same year a story was told about Col. Allen and Dr. Fay involved in a hanging outside the grounds of the Catamount Tavern.
Crowds were gathered at Landlord Fays in anticipation of the return of their hero, Col Allen. The festivities lasted several days and on the last day a man by the name of David Redding was scheduled to be hanged, convicted of “enemical conduct.’ He was found to communicate with the enemy and to house arsenal against the popular movement of protecting grants purchased by Allen, Fay and others. The gallows for the hanging had been erected in a field across the road from Landlord Fay’s. At the last moment the lawyer for Redding declared mistrial and the hanging was delayed. The crowd immediately went into a rage over which Co Allen staged himself and declared “Attention the whole” in his most promising tone that a hanging would occur after the fair trial for Redding if not his own neck in the noose! A hanging did occur on the appointed day and the neck to be hung belonged to Redding. It was rumored the bones of Redding was locked up in the closet of Dr Jonas Fay.
You might look into the Constitution House situated at Windsor, VT where the constitution for Vermont was written. Only ten miles away at Reading is a seat of Fays. Of those Fays buried at Windsor descendants of two handed down furniture that once decorated the interior of the Constitution House. If anyone has information regarding the line of Collamer Fay, I would be most interested.
On a more personal note, a marriage did occur by an interesting connection to the Catamount Tavern. At Williamstown, MA, just north and across the border of Vermont, was erected Fort Massachusetts. Col Benjamin Simonds commanded the post and he served to give strategic advice at the Safety Council meetings held at the famous tavern; his armed regiment served during the Battle of Bennington. Enlistment included Davis, Lamb and McMaster, all of Williamstown, MA.
Col Simonds married Mary Davis of Brimfield, MA whose nephew, Capt Stephen Davis, joined in the Revolution under Col Simonds and after the war participated in Shay’s Rebellion in MA. Folklore added Col Allen was asked to participate in the rebellion but admitted he would not risk his standing in Vermont for Massachusetts. Capt Davis and his family removed ‘in droves’ to Georgia VT in 1789 from Williamstown with the help of Frederick Bliss because Davis turned escaped prisoner for his role in Shay’s Rebellion and could not return to MA. Davis settled at Georgia, VT upon original land purchased by Ethan and Ira Allen.
Capt Stephen Davis had a grandson by the name of Warner Davis. Warner, perhaps the namesake of Seth Warner of Revolutionary fame and of Bennington, married Laura Ann Fay of Richmond, VT, the granddaughter of Sgt. John Fay who fell hero at the Battle of Bennington and son of Capt Stephen Fay, owner of the Catamount Tavern.
Caroline FAY, subject of a recent query concerning Ethan Allen, was sister to Laura Ann Fay. Neither were related to Ethan Allen, except to say they were associated by family and state history two generations earlier.
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