Nathan B. Hayes

Page 200-201 - Nathan B. Hayes, father of H. Jay Hayes, head of the Hayes-Ionia Company, of Grand Rapids and Ionia, was born in the state of New York, as were also his parents, Hector and Lucinda Hayes, descendants of families that were established in America before the War of the Revolution. In 1836, when he was nine months old, Nathan B. Hayes’ parents started on the tedious journey to the territory of Michigan; crossing Lake Erie in a sailing vessel, the "Dean Richmond," and making the trip from Detroit to Ionia county, through a veritable wilderness, in a covered wagon drawn by a team of oxen. In this wagon the Hayes family lived during the winter of 1836-37, while the father cleared a space and erected a log house. Hector Hayes, the second white man to settle in North Plains township, Ionia county, chose as a site for his home, a spot near the bank of Brown creek, three and one-half miles northwest of the village of Muir. The oak tree, under which the covered wagon stood, is still standing, now grown to magnificent size. The Hayes cabin was frequently visited by Indians, who developed a great liking for the family, due, no doubt, to the fact that Hector Hayes often permitted them to use his rifle on hunting expeditions, and Mrs. Hayes brewed tea for them from a slender supply she had brought with her from New York. The land on which Hector Hayes settled proved to be extremely productive and he in time became very well-to-do. Reared in the backwoods and subjected to the primitive but invigorating influences of pioneer life, Nathan B. Hayes’ mental growth kept pace with his gain in physical strength and stature. Though he was, for many years, engaged in lumbering operations in Ionia and Montcalm counties and conducted other business enterprises, he never lost interest in farming and in the breeding of live stock. He owned, at one time, two thousand five hundred acres of land; and the Hayes homestead, which is still owned by the family, is one of the finest properties in the county. Nathan B. Hayes was elected to the state legislature in 1877, and served one term in that body. He was a member of the board of control of the Michigan state prisons eight years, and he was at one time mentioned as a possible candidate for the office of governor. He was a man of strong intellectuality and marked business judgment, and distinguished himself by many original deeds. He installed the first telephone in Ionia county and erected on his farm the first windmill north of the Grand Trunk Railroad. For many years he was president of the Ionia County Historical Society and also a leader in other community projects. He died on May 24, 1922, and his widow, Mrs. Mary A. (Olmstead) Hayes, died in the same year, in September. They are survived by four sons: George B., H. Jay, Jeremiah C. and Austin C., and an adopted daughter, Miss Nettie Hayes.

Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 26 March 2003