Born abt 1823 in the Empire State of New York to Levi and Roxena Webster Fosdick, Jay Fosdick moved to Marshall County, Illinois at abt age 15.

He met Sarah Graves in Illinois and began courting her. Possibly Sarah was enamored with Jay’s playing of the fiddle (violin)? In any event, he decided to emigrate to California with Sarah’s father and her family in April of 1846. They were married shortly before departing. Franklin Ward Graves now had a son-in-law to help with the arduous task of preparing, packing and managing the long journey west.

Jay and Sarah left Truckee Lake on the early morning of Wednesday, December 16th, 1846 with the Snowshoe Party (later renamed Forlorn Hope) along with Franklin and Sarah’s sister Mary Ann.

By January 3, 1847, five of the fifteen snowshoers had died and Fosdick was slowly dying. On January 4th, 1847 he lagged further behind the others, except for Sarah, who stayed with him. J. Quinn Thornton reported,

"Jay Fosdick, who, it will be remembered, was expected to die, was about a mile back. He had lain down, unable to proceed any further; and his wife was with him. Upon hearing Mr. Eddy’s rifle crack, at the time of his killing the deer, he exclaimed, in a feeble voice—'There! Eddy has killed a deer. Now, if I can only get to him, I shall live.'"

As Sarah described it, “On the night of the 6th of January, my husband gave out and could not reach the camp;– I staid with him without fire; I had a blanket and wrapped him in it sat down beside him, and he died about midnight, as near as I could tell.” She lay beside him, hoping to freeze to death, but her wish was not granted.

Jay Fosdick perished on the eastern bluffs of the North Fork of the American River on January 6th, 1847 at the age of 23 in his young bride’s arms. His troublesome journey had finally come to and end.