The following bio was taken from page 230 of the book entitled "Rusk County History" compiled and edited and used with permission of the Rusk County Historical Commission.
Transcribed by Gloria Riley
Submitted by Gloria Briley Mayfield, Rusk County TX Coordinator
Our family traces its ancestry back to 1604 A.D., when Father Adrian, head of the Presbyterian Church, encouraged his people to leave England because of religious persecution. The people of Scotland were encouraged to do the same thing. They settled in Ulster and became known as Scotch-Irish. They were totally different in character and religion from the native Irish. They became famous in history for their defense of Londonderry against James II. They cultivated the land and became very prosperous. Under Charles I, who came to the throne in 1625, they again faced religious persecution, when the native Irish people rose to expel them from Ireland.
Many of the people immigrated to America as early as 1706. They wanted a land of their own. They settled in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. They sought religious freedom and fertile soil.
John Hays, "The Immigrant," was married to Jane Love, who was born in Scotland in 1705. John came to America in 1725, and was followed by Jane, their four children, and his father, William Grimes Hays in 1742. They settled in Chester, Pennsylvania in 1742. Here Robert Hays, our great-great-grandfather, was born. The Hays families and other Scotch-Irish were placed between the settlement of Quakers and the frontier because they were a "scrappy lot." They fought valiantly on the battlefields of the American Revolution. John Hays, Jr., and his wife Molly were with General Washington at Valley Forge. She became known as Molly Pitcher because of her service to the wounded. The Hays family fought in the Battle of Tippecanoe under William Henry Harrison during the War of 1812. We have a button from HarrisonÂ’s campaign, marked "Tippecanoe and Tyler, too." William Hays, who fought with Harrison, had a grandson (our grandfather) who was named for President Harrison.
William C. Hays, son of William Hays, was born in 1806 in South Carolina. He married Mary Christopher Wilson as a young man and then moved her to Murray County, Tennessee in 1828.
W. C. Hays, with his brothers and friends, brought horses, which they had bought in Kentucky, to Texas to sell. They were impressed with the land and prospects of future developments in Texas. Enoch Hays stayed and built and operated the ferry at Camden, Texas. William C. Hays "took out" a Texas citizenship.
On returning to Kentucky for horses, W. C., several friends, and his brother James volunteered to fight for Texas independence. After returning to Tennessee, James Hays left for Texas with a number of friends and David Crockett. James traveled with Crockett to San Antonio and the Alamo. They all died there defending it in the cause of freedom. He, James, has a bronze marker in his memory there, along with the other defenders.
Grandfather, W. C. Hays, was a member of Captain WoodÂ’s Company at San Jacinto. We have a receipt signed by the Aid-de-Camp of Thomas J. Green, Brigadier General, Texas Army, dated September 1836, which reads as follows: "Received of Capt. W. C. Hays, a medicine chest." This was Santa AnnaÂ’s personal medicine chest captured at San Jacinto. Grandfather later received a land grant in Rusk County for participation in the Battle of San Jacinto. The land still belongs to the Hays family and is located east of Minden, Texas, where W. C. Hays later lived. He was a farmer, a cattleman, and a tanner.
W. C. Hays had five sons who fought in the War Between the States. When they were ready to sign up and leave home, Grandfather said, "Now, I donÂ’t want any heroes. I just want you home for the spring plowing."
John Bruce Hays was killed at Vicksburg and is buried in the National Cemetery there.
Our great-grandfather, W. H. H. Hays, who was in HoodÂ’s brigade, was a Baptist minister and established quite a number of Baptist churches in Rusk County and deep East Texas. Many of them have plaques commemorating him. Among them is the Old North Church in Nacogdoches. He also preached at the First Baptist Church in Henderson between 1888 and 1902. Grandfather W. H. H. Hays was well educated and able to read his Bible in both Greek and Hebrew. He was a friend of Sam Houston and the Rev. George Truett, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas. The Rev. Truett and Grandfather made trips together to the Southern Baptist Contentions.
Two pieces of W. H. H. HaysÂ’ furniture were given by our family to the Howard-Dickinson House in Henderson. Of special interest to his descendants is a beautiful walking cane with a fifty dollar gold piece embedded in the handle, which he received form his commanding officer, Nathan Bedford Forrest. The cane has been donated to the Confederate Museum in Austin.
Our people came to America to escape oppression. They wanted to be free, and those who came to Rusk County stood up and fought courageously for freedom just as they had for American freedom. We of the Hays family are proud of our Rusk County heritage.
Written by Deva Hays