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Madera Biographies: Jay
Richard C. Jay
C. Curtin, driver
RICHARD C. JAY. Before William the Conqueror had brought his victorious armies to England the Jay family lived and flourished in the land of Normandy. Early in the history of America some of that name crossed the ocean from England and identified themselves with the patriots in the colonies. The most distinguished representative of that era was John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States. Another of the family, Charles Jay, served in the continental army during the Revolutionary war, having come to this country a short time before the outbreak of the struggle. This Revolutionary soldier had a brother, Stephen, who remained in England and engaged in farming there throughout all of his life.
Richard Jay, a son of Stephen, was born at St Blazey, England, and in 1839 came to the United States, settling on a farm near Honesdale, Wayne County, Pa., and afterward removing to Jermyn, Lackawanna County, where he died. Before leaving England he married Mary Curtis, whose father, William Curtis, was a farmer in England. Her death occurred in Jermyn, Pa. In her family there were four children who attained mature years, namely: Joseph, who died at Jermyn; Thomas, who is engaged in mining and lives at Butte, Mont.; Rev. Stephens, D. D., pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Foryfort, Luzerne County, Pa.; and Richard Curtis, the only representative of the family in California.
The last named child, Richard Curtis, was born at St Blazey, England, March 1, 1833, and at six years of age accompanied the family to Pennsylvania, where his education was obtained in the Homesdale common schools. While attending school in the winter, after the age of fifteen he clerked in a mercantile store during the summer months. Going to Jermyn, Pa., in 1869, Mr. Jay secured employment as clerk in the general store of John Jermyn, with whom he remained much of the time for twelve years. Meanwhile he had gained a local reputation as a musician. From boyhood he had been fond of music and readily acquired a thorough knowledge of various instruments. In addition to clerking he taught music and founded the Jermyn band, of which he was the leader. Under his skillful training the band won the medal for the district.
On coming to California in 1877 he was engaged as a musician in San Jose. Next he went to Virginia City, Nev., and later taught the band of Eureka, same state for two years. In 1881 he returned to Jermyn, Pa., and the following year became teacher of the band at Nanticoke, that state, and was proprietor of a music store there. When he again came to California, in 1890, he settled in Madera and embarked in the furniture business. In September1894, he added an undertaking business in connection with his other work, and in 1901 converted the establishment into exclusively undertaking and picture framing. During the existence of the Madera band he was its leader.
The marriage of Mr. Jay, in Moosie, Pa., tied him with Anna E. Swisher, who was born in Susquehanna County, that state. They own and occupy a residence in the Hughes addition to Madera. Their eldest daughter, Mrs. Ella J. Tuggles, resides in Fresno, but the others, Robert Selden, Mattie S. Stephen and Mary E., are still at home. Mrs. Jay is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the family attends services there. Mr. Jay is an active member of the Madera Board of Trade, a believer in Republican principles, and a progressive citizen, contributing generously to worthy movements. In 1898 the Republicans nominated him County Coroner and Public Administrator and he was elected by a majority of four hundred, taking the oath of office in January 1899, for a term of four years. So satisfactory was his service that in 1902 he was re-elected by a majority of one thousand thirty, his second term to expire in January 1907.
The duties of his office and the conduct of his business make him a very busy man, be he finds leisure to participate in the activities of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, in which he is past master workman; and also in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in which he was noble grand two terms. To prepare himself for satisfactory and efficient work in embalming, he took a course of studying the Champion College at Springfield, Ohio, and later enjoyed the advantage of a practical and thorough course in the New York Training School of Embalming, by mean of which he has become fully qualified for the important task of embalming.
Guinn, J. M., History of the State of California and Biographical Record of the San Joaquin Valley, California, (Chicago: Chapman Publishing, 1905), page 1483.
Transcribed by Harriet Sturk.
Last update: September 15, 2000
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