Ephraim Hays, Sr.

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Ephraim Hays (Hay), Sr.

Also Known As: "Hay"
Birthdate: (79)
Birthplace: Middlesex, NJ, USA
Death: July 12, 1826 (75-83)
Reading, NY, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of David Hay
Husband of Sarah Sullard and Mary Hays
Father of Sarah Sullard; David Hays; John D. Hays, Sr.; Catherine Tunison; Nancy Davis and 5 others
Brother of William Hay

Managed by: Terrill Grant Hayes
Last Updated:

About Ephraim Hays, Sr.

Ephraim Hay -- by Terrill Hayes

Where and when Ephraim Hay or Hays was born is not known for certain at this time. It is remembered by his descendants that he emigrated from Scotland in his own ship and landed at Elizabethtown, Essex Co., NJ. The story has come down through the family that he felt the family should pick a new surname to go with their new life in a new country. The captain of the ship was asked what name he would suggest. Being a bit hard of hearing, he cupped his hand over his ear and asked, "Hey?" and Ephraim pronounced that the surname would be Hay.

However, this may be more family story than truth. For there is a christening record for Ephraim Hay dated February 15, 1747, at the First Presbyterian Church, Cranbury, Middlesex Co., NJ. This record names David Hay as the father of Ephraim Hay; the name of the mother is not given. There is a second record in the same church for a William Hey, son of David, christened March 4, 1750. The names David and William are to be found among the descendants of Ephraim Hays for several generations, lending some credibility to the possibility that our ancestor Ephraim Hay was born in Middlesex County, New Jersey to David Hay. More research is needed.

There is a third christening record at the same church for a Joseph Hays. According to the record, he was taken in as a lad by the Yates, probably Rebecca and William Yates, who are listed with the baptism of another child on a previous page of the church records. The name Joseph is not found among the immediate descendants of Ephraim Hays.

Ephraim Hay or Hays married Sarah Terril at the Presbyterian Church in Westfield, Union Co., NJ, June 26, 1770. Sarah Terrill is thought to be the daughter of Isaac Terrill and Sarah Sayre. Either they divorced or the marriage was annulled or the record is mistaken as Ephraim was married (also?) to Mary Terrill, daughter of Isaac Terrill and Sarah Sayre. Sarah Terrill married Benjamin Sullard.

The Will of Isaac Terrill probated 8 October 1782 lists his daughters Mary Hays and Sarah Terrill among his descentants. The Will of Abraham Terrill probated 21 November 1811 provides bequests for his sister Mary Hay and John Sullard. Abraham's sister Sarah married Benjamin Sullard in 1784 (after Isaac's Will); Sarah Terrill Sullard died in 1794. (Benjamin Sullard married second Sarah Hays, daughter of Ephraim Hays and Mary Terrill.)

Ephraim's wife Mary was baptized on December 12, 1802, at the Presbyterian Church, Westfield, Union Co., NJ. The parents of David Hay are given as Ephraim Hay and Mary Terrill (page 925 of "The History of Yates County," by Stanford Canning).

It is thought that all of the children of Ephraim Hays are by his second wife Mary. For Abraham Terrill, brother of Sarah Terrill Hays Sullard, left a bequest his nephew John Sullard, but left no bequest to any Hays nieces or nephews.

According to family history, Ephraim Hays fought in the Revolutionary War at the Battle of Monmouth, New Jersey. Revolutionary War roll 43 in group 246 in the National Archives has a record of an Ephriam Hayes, Private. This roll is for the Third Regiment, which fought in New Jersey. The records are described as "Militia rolls, payrolls, supply lists for each regiment."

The obituary for Ephriam's son Charles has the following additional information regarding Ephraim's service in the Revolutionary War. It is from an interview of David F. Hays, Charles nephew (son of his brother David) and Ephraim's grandson: "Mr. Hays says his grandfather was in Gen. Washington's army, and was at the battle of Monmouth, soon after which he received a letter from home, informing him, that on the day of the battle his wife had given birth to twins, boys, and that his ancestor soon presented himself before Gen. Washington with the letter, and asked a furlough, that he might visit his wife and see his children. The General took up his pen and wrote a discharge in full from the army during the war. This battle, we think, was fought June 28, 1778. "

Ephraim Hay is found on the tax list of Bridgewater Township, Somerset Co., NJ in 1779, 1784, 1786 (as Ephraim Hey), 1789, and 1791-1794. He is not listed in 1796 or 1797.

Ephraim's eldest son David may have been the first of the family to migrate from Westfield, NJ, to the Yates County, NY, Finger Lakes region. According to the "History of Yates County," he settled with his wife Mary on her brother Benjamin's lot in 1808.

Between 1794 and 1810, Ephraim Hay removed to Westfield, Union county, New Jersey. Ephraim Hay is listed in the Westfield tax lists in 1810, 1811, and 1813.

Ephraim Hays, Jr., is listed in 1810 in Columbia County, New York. The household includes one male sixteen to twenty-five; one female under ten and two females sixteen to twenty-five.

By 1820, five members of the Hays family, have migrated from New Jersey to New York. David, Ephraim, James and John, are listed as living near each other in the 1920 census for Yates and Steuben counties, New York. Ephraim, James, and John are all listed on the same page. Also, the family of Enos Davis is on the same page:

1820 NY Census Index:

Davis, Enos NY Steuben Co. Reading Page 266

Hays, Ephraim NY STEUBEN CO. READING Page 266




1820 Yates Co. Census






E = free white males age 26-45.
F = free white males age 45 and over.
J = free white females age 26-45.
K = free white females age 45 and over.
M = Agr = persons engaged in agricultural work.

Page 7, 1820, Reading


Ephraim HAYS 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0

This grouping of the families is one of the facts that leads me to question Pearson Greaves listing of James Hay (married to Temperance Baker) as a son of Henry Hays. Another suggestion is the family resemblance of at least one descendant of James Hays to a descendant of Charles Hays. Another is that none of the names used by Henry Hays for his children are found in James' descendants.

Ephraim's Last Will and Testament is dated April 17, 1826, and was written at Reading, Steuben Co., NY. It was probated July 12, 1826, and is quoted here courtesy of Marion Springer, of the Steuben County New York Historical Society:

Abstract of Wills and Administrations, Ephrain Hays: Case No. 4794, Book 2, Page 57, Year 1826

Township Reading, Date of Will April 17, 1826, Executors Garret Haring, Witnesses John French, Issac Price, Lewis French, Wife Mary Hays, Heirs:

   Daniel Hays     S
   William Hays    S
   Eprain Hays     S
   John Hays  S
   James Hays S
   David Hays S
   Charles         S
   Nancy Davis     D
        Nancy Hays
   Caty Tunison    D
        Caty Hays
   Sally Sallard   D
        Sally Hays

Inventory X, Value $227.22, Case file X

Schuyler County, NY, HAYES, Ephraim - Reading 17-168

Ephraim Hayes Will

Steuben Vol 2, fol 5p

Last Will and Testament of Ephraim Hays:

"The last Will and Testament of Ephraim Hays of the town of Reading, in the County of Steuben and State of New York. Considering the uncertainty of this Mortal life, and being of sound mind and memory (blessed be Almighty God for the same) Do make and publish this my last will and Testament in manner and form following.

"First I give, devise and bequeath to my beloved wife Mary Hays during her natural life all my Real and Personal Estate.

Secondly, after her decease I give and bequeath to my beloved daughter Nancy Davis one dollar, and to the heirs of my beloved son John Hays deceased, the sum of one dollar, which said sums of two dollars to be paid within six months after my decease or the decease of my beloved wife Mary Hays.

Thirdly, I give and devise one fourth part of all the residue of my personal estate to my beloved son James Hays and Fourthly, I give and bequeath all the rest and residue of any personal estate (after the payment of all my debts and after the decease of my beloved wife Mary Hays to my seven beloved children vis, David Hays, Charles Hays, Ephraim Hays, William Hays, Daniel Hays, Caty Tunison, and Sally Sallard, to be equally divided among or between them all.

Fifthly, I give devise and bequeath to my beloved son James Hays and to his heirs and assigns forever the one equal fourth part of all my real Estate, and the rest and residue of all my real Estate I give, devise and bequeath to my said seven beloved children - David Hays, Charles Hays, Ephraim Hays, William Hays, Daniel Hays, Caty Tunison and Sally Sallard, and to their heirs and Assigns forever to be equally divided between them after the decease of my said beloved wife Mary Hays. And hereby appoint Garret Harring Sole Executor of this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all former wills and testaments by me made.

"In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal the seventeenth day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty six, (the words to my beloved son James Hays) also the words (and bequeath) underlined before signing (also the words eight hundred)

"Signed, sealed, published and }

Declared by the above named }

Ephraim Hays to his last will } his

And testament in the presence } Ephraim (X ) Hays

of us who have hereunto subscribed } mark

Our names as Witnesses in the }

Presence of the testator-- }

    John French
    Isaac Price
    Lewis French

Steuben County }

Surrogate Office SS } "Be it Remembered that on the 12th day of July 1826 personally appeared before me James Brundage, Surrogate of said County, John French of the subscribing witnesses to the within last Will and Testament of Ephraim Hays late of the town of Reading, who being duly sworn saith that he was Present and saw the Testator Sign, Seal & deliver the within Will and Testament, and the Testator signed the same, in the presence of the other subscribing witnesses to wit Isaac Price and Lewis French, and that they all subscribed their names to the said Instrument in the Presents of the Testator. And further that the Testator was at the time of a sound and disposing mind and memory and further this deposed saith not.

    James Brundage Surrogate

On the 12th day of July 1826, Garet Haring qualified as the Executor to the last will and testament of Ephraim Hayes late of the town of Reading in Steuben County

Received 12th day of July 1826} James Brundage Surrogate

    James Brundage surrogate }

The People of the state of New York by the Grace of God free and independent to Garret Haring, named in the last will and testament of Ephraim Hayes late of the town of Reading in the County of Steuben deceased greeting. Whereas the said Ephraim Hayes deceased as is alleged made his last will and testament and therein named you the said Garret Haring Executor to his estate having whilst living and at the time of his death goods Chattels and Credits within this State by means whereof the granting of letters testamentary, and also the auditing and final discharging of the amount thereof do appertain with us And we being desirous that the goods Chattels and Credits of the said deceased may be well and faithfully disposed of do grant with you the said Garret Haring full power by these presents to Execute and perform and dispose of all and singular the goods Chattels and Credits aforesaid according to the tenor and Effect of the said last will and testament, and to ask demand sue for recover and receive the debts which unto the said deceased whilst living and at the time of his death did belong and to pay the debts which he did owe so far as the laws require thereby requesting you to make or cause to be made a true and perfect inventory of all and Singular the said goods Chattels and Credits which were of the said deceased, which have or Shall come to your hands possession or knowledge. And the same so made to Exhibit into the Office of the Surrogate of the County of Steuben aforesaid at of before the Expiration of six Calendar months from the date hereof and also to render a Just and true account of the administration thereof when thereunto lawfully required And we do by these presents depute constitute and appoint you the said Garret Haring Executor of all and singular the goods Chattels and Credits which were of the said Ephraim Hays deceased.

    In testimony whereof we have Caused the seal of our Surrogate of our said County of Steuben to be hereunto affixed. Witness James Brundage, Esquire and Surrogate of our said County of Steuben at Bath this twelft day of July in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and twenty siz. And of our Independence the fifty-first year.

Recorded the 12th day of July 1826} James Brundage, Surrogate

             James Brundage Surrogate}

According to her application for a Revolutionary War Pension, Sarah Hays was the second wife of Benjamin Sullard. The application lists the birth dates of all of the children of Benjamin Sullard. From this information, it is possible to identify Rachel and John as children of Benjamin and Sarah Terrill Sullard; and Elias, Ephraim, Sarah, Elizabeth, and Mary as children of Benjamin and Sarah Hays Sullard.

Information about the marriage, family, and descendants of Catherine and Cornelius Tunison is known.

The Presbyterian Church of Westfield, Union Co., NJ, has a marriage record for Nancy Hays and Enos Davis. Also, the church has baptismal records for seven children by Nancy Hays and Enos Davis. The location of their descendants is not known at this time.

The land formerly owned by Ephraim Hays in Steuben County, New York, was sold by his son James to his brother-in-law Cornilius Tunison, husband of Catherine (Caty) Hays.

Grace Hayes Jones, a member of the DAR, genealogist, and family historian wrote the following sketch of her great, great, grandfather and her family history. It is quoted here with permission of her daughter, Lenore H. Geller:

Ephraim Hays

Ephraim Hays . . . born Scotland and came to America on his own sailing vessel before the Revolutionary War, settled at Elizabethtown, N. J. . . . .

Children: John, Catherine, Charles, Ephraim,Jr., Daniel and several others.

Ephraim is said to have fought in the Revolutionary War and was at the Battle of Monmouth. This battle was on June 28, 1778 near Monmouth Court House, in the town of Freehold, Monmouth Co., N. J., between American Army under General George Washington and British under Sir Henry Clinton.

The story is told that a son was born on the day of the battle. Any soldier who had a son born that day was allowed to go home on furlough. So, Ephraim went home to see his new son. Which son this was is not known.

Another traditional story is regarding our name. The family of Ephraim . . . was crossing the Atlantic Ocean, migrating to America. Ephraim owned the boat, a sailing vessel. How many there were in his family is not known. If there were other families we do not know that, but perhaps there were a number of people on the ship. A sudden idea came to Ephraim one day during the trip. "We are going to a new land to live," he said. "I think we should choose a new name." The old captain was near. "Captain, what do you suggest?" asked Ephraim. Well, the Captain was deaf. He had not heard the question so merely cupping one hand to an ear he said, "Hey?" "Then, Hay it shall be," declared Ephraim. And ever since that time, according to the story handed down in our family, the name has been Hays or Hayes. It may even have been Haye or Hayse as well as Hay.

My father, Grant L. Hayes, said that when he was a boy his people spelled it "Hays." That is the way it is written in the Bible (New Testament) of my grandmother, Mrs. Harriet J. Hays of Greenville, Mercer Co. PA. The date it was bought was February 14, 1876. I also have a letter and post card written to some of the family with that spelling.

When my father was a little older, perhaps in his late 'teens or even in his early twenties, he told his father, "Hays is Irish. We are Scotch and it should be Hayes." So, after that time we have used that spelling and everyone in our immediate family by that name is a "Hayes." There may be some quite distant relatives by the name of Hays -- descendants of Daniel, John or Ephraim, Jr. may still use that form.

This information is what my father gave me when I asked him about our ancestors. It was traditional--no one had ever written any of it until I recorded it many years ago. Some of it may not be factual but I believe there is at least a grain of truth in all of it. The story of how we got our name does seem fantastic. A woman in San Diego, a DAR member, says the Hayes and Terrills are closely related. So that may give a clue to some facts.

-- by Grace Hayes Jones

Preliminary investigation has not yet identified a ship owned by Ephraim Hays. However, there are the following records regarding a ship captained by an S. Hays, in the volume, "Documents Relating to the Colonial History of New Jersey," Vol XI, Page 100: "Entered Outwards. The Snow Sarah, S. Hays for Antique," and on page 101: "Cleared Out. Hays and Phenex for Antigua." There are records for Captain Stephen Hays in Newark Township, Essex Co., NJ. Perhaps this is S. Hays and perhaps he and Ephraim were related.

Research continues on many fronts: Who were the parents of Ephraim Hay? Where are the descendants of his daughter Nancy? Where are the descendants of his sons William, Daniel, and Ephraim, Jr.? When did Mary die? Where are Ephraim and Mary buried?



1. History of Yates County, pages 925-926, by Stafford Canning Cleveland

2. Research of Grace Hayes Jones, DAR

3. Research of Lenore H. Geller, DAR

4. Records of the Presbyterian Church, Westfield, Union Co., NY

5. Surrogate Court Records, Steuben Co., NY

6. Census records, 1820, Steuben or Yates County, NY

7. Tax rolls, Union Co., NJ

8. Tax rolls, Somerset Co., NJ

9. LDS IGI Records

10.Steuben County Historical Office, NY

11.Tax rolls, Essex Co., NJ

12. Ancestry.com database "Revolutionary War Service Records, 1775-83." "Record Group 93 M246 in the National Archives (a total of 138 rolls of microfilm)."

13. Heritage Quest: "Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783: New Jersey: 3d Regiment, 1777-80 (39-43)"

14. "Revolutionary War Rolls, List of Jackets, 1775-83 M246 138" "Militia rolls, payrolls, supply lists for each regiment."

Copyright (c) 2001, 2002, 2003, 2010 Terrill G. Hayes, Mt. Vernon, WA

All Rights Reserved

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Ephraim Hays, Sr.'s Timeline

February 15, 1747
Middlesex, NJ, USA
February 15, 1747
Cranbury, Middlesex, New Jersey, United States
Age 23
Essex Co., NJ
Age 24
Westfield, Union Co., NJ
Age 28
Essex Co., NJ
Age 29
Essex, NJ, USA
September 16, 1778
Age 31
Essex Co., NJ
Age 31
Middlesex Co., NJ