George Fay

Introduction: George Fay is known as a Bedford County, Pennsylvania gunsmith from an entry in the 1983 Whisker & Whisker booklet. That entry puts George Fay in Hopewell Township of Bedford County from 1835 to 1844 and puts him in Allegheny Township of Blair County from 1848 to 1858. The 1991 Whisker & Whisker book and the 2001 Whisker and Yantz book put Fay in Hopewell Township from 1848 to 1858. I suspect this is a mistake resulting from accidentally misquoting the 1983 booklet. The 2017 Whisker & Whisker book accidently reports an 1850 Blair County census record of George Fay as being a Bedford County census record. Please recognize that such mistakes are extremely easy to make when writing history-related books, and rare is the book that is error free.

1811: The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" lists a George Fay as living from 1811 to 1890. The authors of the 1983 booklet do not include this individual in their 1991 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton Counties". The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntingdon, & Somerset Counties" indicates that George Fay lived from 1811 to 1912, but this probably mixes up dates for father and son gunsmiths who had the same name.

1835-1844: The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" locates George Fay in Hopewell Township of Bedford County from 1835 to 1844.

1837: The 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" indicates that George Fay's gunsmith son William was born in 1837.

1840: I did not find a George Fay in a transcript of the 1840 census of Hopewell Township, Bedford County, even though the 1983 booklet locates George Fay in Hopewell Township of Bedford County from 1835 to 1844.

Circa 1842: The June 9, 1875 issue of the "Hollidaysburg Register" newspaper states, "Jacob Snyder, formerly of Stonerstown, Bedford county, a banker in Colorado Territory, was murdered on the 20th of last month, at Georgetown, Colorado. Mr. Snider learned the trade of gunsmith with Mr. Geo. Fay, of Altoona, some thirty-three years ago. His remains were brought home for interment."

1848-1858: The 1983 booklet puts George Fay in Allegheny Township of Blair County from 1848 to 1858. The 2001 book locates George Fay in Hopewell township from 1848 to 1858, but this seems likely to be based on a misreading of the confusingly written 1983 booklet.

1850: In the 1850 census of Allegheny Township, Blair County an individual named George Fay is enumerated as a 39-year-old Pennsylvania-born gunsmith with property valued at $1,200.00. Also living in his household are 35-year-old Mary, 15-year-old Mary J. Fay, 14-year-old Rachel Fay, 13-year-old William Fay, 10-year-old Sarah Fay, 8-year-old Andrew J. Fay, 6-year-old Margaret Fay, and 6-month-old Lavinia Fay, and 21-year-old gunsmith Alexander Bradley, all Pennsylvania-born. The 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" mistakenly reports that these census entries are from Hopewell Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

1859: Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle" reports that George Fay is on the tax list for the Borough of Gaysport (Blair County) in 1859, and reports that his name is stricken in the 1860 list.

1860: Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle" reports that George Fay is on the tax list for Hollidaysburg (Blair County) in 1860, and reports that his name is stricken in the 1861 list.

1860: George Fay is enumerated as a 49-year-old gunsmith with a value of $200.00 in the 1860 federal census of the Borough of Hollidaysburg. Living in his household are 73-year-old Mary E. Fey (evidently his mother), 33-year-old Mary, 23-year-old William (a gunsmith), 17-year-old Andrew, 1-year-old Levina, 3-year-old George, and 1-year-old Maria.

1861: The 1983 booklet and the 2001 book locate George Fay in Duncansville of Blair County in 1861. Sellers' 2008 book "American Gunsmiths" reports, based on an 1861 directory, that George Fay was in Duncansville in 1861.

1862-1891: The 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" locates George Fay in Altoona (Blair County) from 1862 to 1891. (Kauffman's 1960 book identifies George Fay on the Altoona tax lists of 1862, 1864, 1869, 1874, and 1879.)

1864: Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle" reports that William Fay is included on the 1864 tax list of Altoona, but his name is annotated to indicate that he was killed in the (Civil) war.

1882: A news item in the Thursday, June 8, 1882 issue of the "Altoona Tribune" states, "Mr. George Fay, gunsmith, resides on Third avenue, between Twenty-first and Twenty-second streets. His shop is situated at the rear of the lot. On Monday morning when he opened the door it did not take more than one look to convince him that somebody had been there during the previous night. Everything was in confusion and considerable property missing, including three revolvers, three brass padlocks, powder and powder horn, caps, etc. The burglars had taken a pane of glass out of a rear window and thus effected an entrance. Once in they broke all the locks in the place but one, which was too strong for them. Mr. Fay is of the opinion that the damage was done by a couple of boys who had been lurking about the place for several days. He would not make any estimate of his loss."

1890: The 1953 edition of "American Gun Makers" indicates that the address of a George Fay who was identified as a gunsmith in an 1890 directory was 2120 Third Avenue, Altoona, Pennsylvania, and the address of a George W. Fay who was also identified as a gunsmith in an 1890 directory was 1000 Green Avenue Altoona, Pennsylvania. The 1953 book mentions that full stock percussion rifles by George Fay of Third Avenue are known, and some are in the Bedford County style. The following excerpt from sheet 34 of the 1894 Sanborn fire insurance map of Altoona identifies 2120 Third Avenue. The street numbering has been changed slightly since then.

1891: The 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" indicates the death of the elder George Fay occurred on August 18, 1891 and the burial took place in the Fairview Cemetery (40.5233002, -78.4028015) of Altoona. This appears to be based on findagrave.com memorial 89500914.

1895: In the "Altoona Directory" of 1895, a gunsmith named George Fay is listed as a gunsmith at Watsons who owns a house at 1002 Greene Avenue. The 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" logically deduces that this is a reference to George Fay, Jr.

1911: The 2017 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford County, Pennsylvania" indicates that George Fay, Jr. died in 1911.

The 1953 edition of "American Gun Makers" mentions a Bedford County style rifle where the barrel is marked "G. Fay" and the stock is marked "B. H. Walker".

Sellers' 2008 book "American Gunsmiths" mentions both half-stock and full stock percussion firearms by George Fay.

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