David Jay

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David Jay was born in Miami County of Ohio on January 25, 1809, to Samuel Jay and Bathsheba Pugh. He grew up in West Branch of Miami County, Ohio. On June 25, 1829, Jay married Sarah Jones, daughter of Elisha Jones and Susannah Hollingsworth, in West Branch of Miami County, Ohio. (1)


Together, Jay and his wife produced eight children from 1832 to 1848. Their names were Verlinda Jay (married to David Whitson), Job P. Jay, Elisha B. Jay (the only child born outside of Grant County, Indiana, and who married Ann Scott), Lydia Jay, Samuel Jay, William S. Jay (married to Martha E. Howell), Thomas Jay, and Susannah H. Jay. They also had another child, the firstborn, which died in infancy. (1)

Move to Grant County

In 1835, during war times and a year before the town came into existence, David Jay and his family traveled by wagon from Miami County, Ohio and purchased land from the Fort Wayne land office. (2) They settled on the Schrader farm west of Jonesboro on the southeast quarter of Section 32.(3) Jay, in search of more and better land, later sold this farm and purchased a farm on Deer Creek in Liberty Township from William Howell at $25 an acre.(4) It was said to be one of the best developed farms and had the first two-story log house ever built in Liberty Township on Deer Creek. (4)

Jay, along with John Whitson, was credited with the improvement of Grant County and its reputation. lt was said that, "David Jay and John Whitson raised their families [in Grant County] and both had their part in converting the wilderness into a fit abiding place for the present day descendants of the pioneers."(5) Both helped with the construction of the mill dam across the Mississinewa River. They both transported timber under an agreement for an old river bridge and regularly hauled commodities from Richmond and Cincinnati.(5)

Personality and Causes

Jay was an avid farmer and agriculturist. He was said to be a man of strong convictions. "You could not influence old David Jay against what he thought was right," one said. Jay was also known for being an avid reader of the Bible.(6) Jay was an abolitionist and was active during the Underground Railroad era in Grant County. His range of relations was great, as Meshingomeshia was his friend, as well. He was allied with the Antislavery Friends and took part in creating the Deer Creek Antislavery Meetings.(6) He was disowned, however, from the Back Creek Monthly Meeting for his participation in the Antislavery Friends in 1843.(7) Jay, a typical Quaker, and his family took part in establishing the Bethel church. Jay served as the official head of the Bethel Friends Meeting, which was established in 1864, until his death.(8)


Jay died on September 13, 1866, and was buried in the Back Creek Cemetery of Fairmount Township of Grant County, Indiana. His wife died on January 28, 1890, and was buried in the same place.(1)

1 Jay Family. Marion Public Library Vertical File.
2 History of Grant County. 1016.
3 History of Grant County. 386.
4 History of Grant County. 115.
5 History of Grant County 254.
6 History of Grant County. 1016-1017.
7 History of Grant County 655.
8 History of Grant Coungr. 1017.

Works Cited

  • Centennial History of Grant County Indiana 1812 to 1912. Ed. Edgar L. Goldtliatit, et al. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1914.
  • Jay Family. Marion Public Library Vertical File.
  • WPA Guide.


This article was written by Natasha Maddox for Mr. Munn’s AP US History and submitted on January 15, 2003.