Carroll County IAGenWeb


The Lewis Publishing Company, 1887


Transcribed by Sharon Elijah January 8, 2021

*pages 102-106, portrait page 103*

     RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES, the nineteenth President of the United States, 1877-’81, was born in Delaware, Ohio, October 4, 1822. His ancestry can be traced as far back as 1280, when Hayes and Rutherford were two Scottish chieftains fighting side by side with Baloil, William Wallace and Robert Bruce. Both families belonged to the nobility, owned extensive estates and had a large following. The Hayes family had, for a coat of arms, a shield, barred and surmounted by a flying eagle. There was a circle of stars about the eagle and above the shield, while on a scroll underneath the shield was inscribed the motto, “Recte.” Misfortune overtaking the family, George Hayes left Scotland in 1680, and settled in Windsor, Connecticut. He was an industrious worker in wood and iron, having a mechanical genius and a cultivated mind. His son George was born in Windsor and remained there during his life.

     Daniel Hayes, son of the latter, married Sarah Lee, and lived in Simsbury, Connecticut. Ezekiel, son of Daniel, was born in 1724, and was a manufacturer of scythes at Bradford, Connecticut. Rutherford Hayes, son of Ezekiel and grandfather of President Hayes, was born in New Haven, in August, 1756. He was a famous blacksmith and tavern-keeper. He immigrated to Vermont at an unknown date, settling in Brattleboro where he established a hotel. Here his son Rutherford, father of President Hayes, was born. In September, 1813, he married Sophia BIrchard, of Wilmington, Vermont, whose ancestry on the male side is traced back to 1635, to John BIrchard, one of the principal founders of Norwich. Both of her grandfathers were soldiers in the Revolutionary war.

     The father of President Hayes was of a mechanical turn, and could mend a plow, knit a stocking, or do almost anything that he might undertake. He was prosperous in business, a member of the church and active in all the benevolent enterprises of the town. After the close of the war of 1812 he immigrated to Ohio, and purchased a farm near the present town of Delaware. His family then consisted of his wife and two children, and an orphan girl whom he had adopted.

     It was in 1817 that the family arrived at Delaware. Instead of settling upon his farm, Mr. Hayes concluded to enter into business in the village. He purchased an interest in a distillery, a business then as respectable as it was profitable. His capital and recognized ability assured him the highest social position in the community. He died July 22, 1822, less than three months before the birth of the son that was destined to fill the office of President of the United States.

     Mrs. Hayes at this period was very weak, and the subject of this sketch was so feeble at birth that he was not expected to live beyond a month or two at most. As the months went by he grew weaker and weaker so that the neighbors were in the habit of inquiring from time to time “if Mrs. Hayes’s baby died last night.” On one occasion a neighbor, who was on friendly terms with the family, after alluding to the boy’s big head and the mother’s assiduous care of him, said to her, in a bantering way, “That’s right! Stick to him. You have got him along so far, and I shouldn’t wonder if he would really come to something yet.” “You need not laugh,” said Mrs. Hayes, “you wait and see. You can’t tell but I shall make him President of the United States yet.”

     The boy lived, in spite of the universal predictions of his speedy death; and when, in 1825, his elder brother was drowned, he became, if possible, still dearer to his mother. He was seven years old before he was placed in school. His education, however, was not neglected. His sports were almost wholly within doors, his playmates being his sister and her associates. These circumstances tended, no doubt, to foster that gentleness of disposition and that delicate consideration for the feelings of others which are marked traits of his character. At school he was ardently devoted to his studies, obedient to the teacher, and careful to avoid the quarrels in which many of his schoolmates were involved. He was always waiting at the school-house door when it opened in the morning, and never late in returning to his seat at recess. His sister Fannie was his constant companion, and their affection for each other excited the admiration of their friends.

     In 1838 young Hayes entered Kenyon College and graduated in1842. He then began the study of law in the office of Thomas Sparrow at Columbus. His health was now well-established, his figure robust, his mind vigorous and alert. In a short time he determined to enter the law school at Cambridge, Massachusetts, where for two years he pursued his studies with great diligence.

     In 1845 he was admitted to the bar at Marietta, Ohio, and shortly afterward went into practice as an attorney-at-law with Ralph P. Buckland, of Fremont. Here he remained three years, acquiring but limited practice, and apparently unambitious of distinction in his profession. His bachelor uncle, Sardis Birchard, who had always manifested great interest in his nephew and rendered him assistance in boyhood, was now a wealthy banker, and it was understood that the young man would be his heir. It is possible that this expectation may have made Mr. Hayes more indifferent to the attainment of wealth than he would otherwise have been, but he was led into no extravagance or vices on this account.

     In 1849 he removed to Cincinnati where his ambition found new stimulus. Two events occurring at this period had a powerful influence upon his subsequent life. One of them was his marriage to Miss Lucy Ware Webb, daughter of Dr. James Webb, of Cincinnati; the other was his introduction to the Cincinnati Literary Club, a body embracing such men as Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, General John Pope and Governor Edward F. Noyes. The marriage was a fortunate one as everybody knows. Not one of all the wives of our Presidents was more universally admired, reverenced and beloved than is Mrs. Hayes, and no one has done more than she to reflect honor upon American womanhood.

     In 1856 Mr. Hayes was nominated to the office of Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, but declined to accept the nomination. Two years later he was chosen to the office of City Solicitor.

     In 1861, when the Rebellion broke out, he was eager to take up arms in the defense of his country. His military life was bright and illustrious. June 7, 1861, he was appointed Major of the Twenty-third Ohio Infantry. In July the regiment was sent to Virginia. October 15, 1861, he was made Lieutenant-Colonel of his regiment, and in August, 1862, was promoted Colonel of the Seventy-ninth Ohio Regiment, but refused to leave his old comrades. He was wounded at the battle of South Mountain, and suffered severely, being unable to enter upon active duty for several weeks. November 30, 1862, he rejoined his regiment as its Colonel, having been promoted October 15.

     December 25, 1862, he was placed in command of the Kanawha division, and for meritorious service in several battles was promoted Brigadier General. He was also brevetted Major-General for distinguished services in 1864. He was wounded four times, and five horses were shot from under him.

     Mr. Hayes was first a Whig in politics, and was among the first to unite with the Free-Soil and Republican parties. In 1864 he was elected to Congress from the Second Ohio District, which had always been Democratic, receiving a majority of 3,098. In 1866 he was renominated for Congress and was a second time elected. In 1867 he was elected Governor over Allen G. Thurman, the Democratic candidate, and re-elected in 1869. In 1874, Sardis Birchard died, leaving his large estate to General Hayes.

     In 1876 he was nominated for the Presidency. His letter of acceptance excited the admiration of the whole country. He resigned the office of Governor and retired to his home in Fremont to await the result of the canvass. After a hard, long contest he was inaugurated March 5, 1877. His Presidency was characterized by compromises with all parties, in order to please as many as possible. The close of his Presidential term in 1881 was the close of his public life, and since then he has remained at his home in Fremont, Ohio, in Jeffersonian retirement from public notice, in striking contract with most others of the world’s notables.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Back to U.S. Presidents Contents

Return to Biographical and Historical Record 1887 Contents

Page created January 8, 2021 by Lynn McCleary