BARNABAS (BARNEY) CHESLEY GAY
Barnabas Chesley Gay, nicknamed "Barney" was my great grandfather. He was born on November 19, 1825 in Jefferson County, Georgia. He was the second child of Thomas and Mary (Warren) Gay. Thomas and Mary had a large family. I don't find where any of the children died at an early age. That is quite surprising for that period of time. Many mothers died in childbirth and many, many children died from the deadly diseases of that day.. Barney's older brother James, was born two years before Barney - September 13, 1823, and his younger siblings were:
Eleanor and Elizabeth, twins, born in 1827, John born October 11, 1831, Robert T. born September 13, 1833, Isaac H. born 1834, Joel born September 23, 1838, Moses born in 1842, Mary Adaline born 1844, Sarah Emaline born 1846, Brantley born 1850 and Rebecca born 1856.
It has been said because of Mary's age that Rebecca was probably a grandchild. Thomas and Mary had thirteen children - a large family indeed!
At the age of 24, on December 20, 1848, Barney married Margaret Beasley of Columbia County, Georgia. He moved his bride next door to his parents, Thomas and Mary (1850 Jefferson County, Census).
In 1850 Barney and Margaret welcomed a son into their family. They named him James W. Gay. On New Year's Day, their little baby girl was born in Richmond County, Ga. . Her birth date was January 1, 1852. Barney and Margaret named her Mary Alice R. Gay..
Sometime after 1852, and before 1858, Margaret passed away. She was just a young mother and wife. I wish they had kept records back in those days. Apparently she came down with some type of illness and died. Barney was a young widower left with two little children. I am still searching for a grave site for Margaret Beasley Gay. There are a couple of unmarked graves near Barney's grave. Her grave might be there at the Templeton/Gay cemetery - on private property on Highway # 1 near Boggy Gut Creek.
Barney married Nancy E. Phillips about 1858-1859. Barney was 33 and Nancy was 16 years when they married, she probably would have turned 17 in December of that year. Nancy was born in Columbia County, Georgia on December 14, 1842. Her parents were William and Lavicey (Vicy) Phillips.
After Nancy was born, she, her father and mother moved from Columbia County to Jefferson County where Lavicey was from. The Phillips family had 4 more children all together. They were: John J. (b) 1843, *Clarissa (b) 1844. Stephen Green (b) 1845 and a daughter born later - Nancy C. (b) 1855.
Nancy grew up living not to far from Thomas and Mary Gay. Barney was also living near with his family. Maybe this is how Nancy met Barney. (1850 Jefferson County Census). Barney and Nancy were probably married about 1858. I have not been able to find a marriage license for them yet. I assume they were married in Jefferson County. Nancy was about 17 years old and Barney was 33 years old. Nancy became step mother to James, about 8 years and Mary about 5 years old.
In 1859 Barney and Nancy had their first child together.. It was a little daughter and they named her Serrepta Alice. (Note: I am a bit confused about this second name. On Serreptha's marriage application her name is listed as Serrepta Alice. Barney's first daughter with Margaret, was also named Alice. It seems strange to me that Barney would have named both of his daughters "Alice". On Mary's tombstone is the name " Mary Alice ", and I feel sure that Serepta's name was " Alice " since it was on her marriage application at the Richmond County Courthouse,Augusta, Ga..
The 1860 Richmond County Census shows the Gay family of five. Barney was 33 (Barney should be 34 and he would turn 35 in two months after the census was taken). Nancy was 18, James was 10, Mary 6 and baby Serrepta was 1 year old.
Four years later Barney and Nancy welcomed another little girl, my grandmother, into their home on November 29, 1863. She was named Vicie, probably after her grandmother and Nancy's mother, Lavicey. There is no record of a second name, even on her tombstone at Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Jefferson County..
Mary Alice R. married William Jeptha Templeton about 1875. William was the son of Alexander and Marietta (Mary) Elizabeth Templeton. They were blessed with 4 children:
John Alexander (1876), Alice P. (October 12, 1879), William Gordon (November 18, 1881) and Kate L. (Sissy) born January 31, 1888.
On January 8, 1874 Barney's only son James married Elizabeth A. Daniels, daughter of James E. and Sara P. Daniels of Jefferson County, Ga.. The wedding was performed by the Reverend M. H. Rece. James and Elizabeth had the following children:
Edward Chesley ( named after his grandfather), born November 4, 1875, Florence M. born 1877, Nancy A. (1879) , Margaret Elizabeth - called "Lizzie", born 1880 and James Barney, born in 1882.
Like his father Barney, James W. found himself a young widower with four small children when his young wife Elizabeth died in 1887 after only thirteen years of marriage. Elizabeth was about 36 years old.
James remarried shortly after Elizabeth died. He married Lela Cornelia McGahee, and they had the following children: Ambrose M.(1890), Ollie L.(1891),* Louis Aaron (1893) Eva Virginia. (1896), Cora C. (1899) and Ethel Mae (1901)
November 30, 1876 in Richmond County, Barney and Nancy witnessed the marriage of their daughter, Serrepta Alice. She married a young man named Louis Wellson Wells. He was the son of Jehue S. and Sara Ann Owens Wells of White County, Georgia.. Louis was 19 years old and Serrepta was 18 years old.
On the 1880 Richmond County census all of the children have moved out of the home except Vicie. She was 18 years old. Her father, Barney was 55 years old and mother Nancy, was 38.
James W. Gay lived with his family on one side of Barney and daughter, Mary Alice Gay Templeton and her family, lived on the other side.
Barney, as well as his father Thomas, his grandfathers Thomas II, Thomas III and the original Barnabas along with a possible 3rd. brother William, were landowners. During the different generations they accumulated a great deal of property in Jefferson County and Richmond County. It pretty much covered Wrens, Stapleton, Pope Hill, Matthews, Blythe, Thompson and the Dearing areas. What they did not own, the Parkers ( my paternal grandparents) the Arringtons and a few other families owned. They sold and bought hundreds of acres of land for $3.55 to $3.66 per acre according to an old will of Barney's. Their children married and kept the land in the families during the 1800's and early 1900's. At the time of this writing in 2002 much of the land there is still owned and lived on by Gay and Arrington descendants. It is beautiful, lush hills and valleys outside of Augusta. Beautiful homes dot the landscape and a busy express way cuts through the expanse. Where once horse and wagons traveled, now modern cars and trucks speed along the highways. My ancestors that lived back in the 1800's, would stand in awe, if they could see the modern conveniences and modes of transportation that cover that land, from which they once struggled to eke a living.
The " Gay Homestead Place" mentioned in Barney's will of 1889, was located on land bounded on the north by Boggy Gut Creek, east by lands owned by daughter, Mary Gay Templeton, south by lands of Mrs. Josh Reville (Lelia Cornelia Gau) and west by Briar Creek. Barney must have loved this old homestead. In his last will and testament he willed this to his daughter, Mary Alice Gay Templeton..
Barney's youngest daughter Vicie, was married about 1880-1881, to James W. Parker. James was born in Jefferson County on August 19, 1853. He came from a family who owned hundreds of acres of land in the Jefferson County and Burke County areas. His grandfather, William R. Parker gave the land to build Mt. Moriah Campground and the land where the Woodland Baptist Church presently sits. Just before his marriage, according to the 1880 Burke County census, James was 27 years of age and living at home with his parents, Aquilla Wesley and Mary Martha (Evans) in Burke County.
After marriage, my grandparents, James and Vicie, lived in Richmond County and had the following children:
Aquilla Wesley, born May 4, 1883, Mamie Zimla, born March 11, 1885, James (Jim) Hampton, born January 24, 1888, my father - **William (Willie) Henry, born January 8, 1893 and Nannie Gertrude, born May 31, 1897 ( who incidentally married Louis A. Gay, James and Cornelia's son).
In 1901, a great epidemic of typhoid fever swept through the south. Georgia was especially hard hit. Barney and Nancy's world was turned upside down when their youngest daughter, Vicie came down with the fever. There were no antibiotics during those days for this dreaded disease. Vicie died on July 19th. 1901. If that was not dreadful enough, Vicie's husband James, also came down with typhoid fever. He died the next month on Augusta 18th. 1901... James and Vicie's little family of 5 children were left parentless. As a child I had heard stories of the children not having anyone to care for them (see William Henry Parker's biography). But, after doing this research and looking at dates etc., the children had their grandparents there. I don't know how far apart their houses were but I don't think it could have been to far. I don't know what happened but I am sure, some how, they were taken care of. My father never talked about his childhood. Since he was only about seven or eight years old when his parents died, I am sure he did not remember much at all about those days. My cousin told me the story of hearing her mother, the older daughter Mamie, saying an old black lady by the name of
*** Rachel , lived down the road from them, would come up to check on the children and do what ever she could to help out. My Uncle Louis and Aunt Nannie Gay, the youngest daughter of James and Vicie, went back there years afterward and tried to get this black lady to come and live in one of their rental houses. They promised to take care of her for the rest of her life. She was old and did not want to leave her home and family in Jefferson County.
Barney Chesley Gay was no stranger to the pain of losing his loved ones in death. On October 18, 1901, just 3 months after Vicie's death, this father had to again say good bye to a loved one, his only son, James. I believe James must have died of typhoid fever like his sister Vicie. How grief stricken he must have been to have to give up a wife and now, two of his precious children.
James left a wife and eleven children. In James's will, he left 100 acres of land to be divided between his three oldest daughters by his first wife (Elizabeth), and the rest of his land and worldly goods he left to "his beloved wife Lela Cornelia and her bodily heirs". The children ranged in ages from 19 years old to baby Margaret.
On August 6, Mary Alice, Barney's oldest daughter by Margaret Beasley lost her husband after a rather long illness. He died on August 6, 1906 and was buried at the Gay/Templeton Cemetery.
Barnabas Chesley, known as "Barney" lived a long and full life. He died on Saturday, February 3, 1906. He was 80 years old and would have turned 81 on his next birthday on November 19th. His beloved wife, Nancy, was now a widow at 64 years of age.. As a parent Barney who has lost2 children in death, I am sure those last five years of Barney's life were spent in much grief and loneliness for his daughter and son.
Mary Alice Gay Templeton lost her husband and father within 6 months of each other.
When Barney made out his will on January 26, 1898, he divided his land and personal belongs between his wife, Nancy and his 4 children. But because two of his children, Vicie and James died before he did, all of his land and personal belongings went to daughters Serrepta Gay Wells, Mary Alice Gay Templeton and to Nancy, his constant companion and mate of almost 50 years.
Nancy lived almost two years after Barney died. She passed away twenty two months later on Friday, December 13, 1907, one day before her 65th. birthday.. My great grandmother, Nancy E. Phillips Gay is buried in the Phillips/Anderson Cemetery in Jefferson County. Buried in the same cemetery is Elizabeth Gay Anderson (born 1827) , one of Barney's twin sisters, who was married to William Anderson.
*** I was told this story by Myrtle Whitaker Delay, daughter of James and Vicie that the children did stay in their home. A young black lady by the name of Rachel, had had a baby out of wedlock and put out on the streets. James W. Parker felt sorry for her and hired her to help his wife Vicie with the 5 children, housework, washing of clothes, etc. I return he built her a little house near them and she lived there with her child. That is the same house where Nannie and Louis Gay tried to get her to give up and come and live free in their rental house free of charge for the rest of her life. She had give her whole life to seeing that the Parker children were taken care of until the last one grew up and got married and left home.
Compiled and written by Jean Parker Chavis
This biography was written by gathering as many facts as I could about the life of my great grandfather. I referred to census, information I received from fellow reseachers, wills, and facts I remember hearing from my childhood as daughter of William Henry Parker, grandson of Barney C. Gay.
I owe thanks and recognition to:
---Jerry Gay, Las Vegas, Nevada - gg grandson of Robert T. Gay, brother of Barney.
---Audrey Conner, Florida - gg granddaughter of Barnabus Chelsey Gay, uncle of Barney.
---Glenn Carter, Florida - Grandson of Gordon Templeton - Barney's daughter Mary's son ---Glenn Carter - Pictures of Barney Chesley Gay, Mary Alice Gay Templeton Gay, William J. Templeton- daughter and son-in-law of Barney C. Gay, Barnabas Chesley and Elizabeth McNair Gay, uncle and aunt of Barney
---Sara Stern - Arkansas
---Myrtle Whitaker Delay, cousin who remembered many more facts than I did. She visited in the homes of James W. Gay's children from his second marriage and remembered them well
1850 Jefferson County, Georgia census
1860 Jeferson County, Georgia census
1870 Richmond County, Georgia census
1880 Richmond County, Georgia census
1880 Burke County, Georgia census
Marriage license - Columbia County, Georgia
Marriage application - Richmond County, Georgia
Augusta Chronicle Archives
Christina Science Monitor - Marriages
My friend, Mary Boles, who is my research companion
My sister, Margaret Benson, who shares this same great grandfather and along with me, enjoys digging in the old dusty books of years gone by hoping to find - "just one more fact".
* my uncle
** my father
This biography of the lives of my great grandparents, Barney and Nancy E. Phillips Gay, were my thoughts and imagination about their lives based on as many facts as I could find. It was written for my family, that in years to come, they can read about who we are and " from whence we came". If I have made errors on my facts or if someone has other facts they could contribute, I would be grateful for that information
Jean Parker Chavis
Updated: May 2005
* Nancy's grandparent's Wilder and Viney's youngest daughter was named Clarissa.