My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Annals of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania published in 1905 by The Genealogical Publishing Company.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

* * * *

HAYS. The first mention that is made in history of the name of Hay is about the year 980, in the reign of Kennett III, of Scotland. The Danes, having invaded Scotland, were met by Kennett near Lancarty in Perthshire. The Scots, retreating through a narrow pass, were rallied by a countryman of great strength, together with his two sons. The Danes were then defeated and as a reward for his signal service the King gave him as much land in the carse of Cowrie as a falcon should fly over before alighting. A falcon being loosed flew over an extent of land six miles in length, and the stone on which it alighted is said to be known to this day as the “Falcon Stone.” The land thus assigned to the Hay family was known as Errol. The King also assigned three shields or escutcheons for the arms of the family, thus indicating that the father and the two sons had been three fortunate shields of Scotland. Among the names of the Norman followers of William the Conqueror in 1066 we find De La Hays, which name is found in both England and Scotland in the twelfth century. Soon, however, the name became anglicised to Hays and Hayes; and from the Norman French De La Hays and the Scotch Hay are descended the Hay, Hays and Hayes families.

The heirs of Lord Hay of Yester in 1500 were the first of that family to change their names to Hays. Heirs spelling the name Hays inherited part of the unentailed estate. In those original Scotch and Norman families who made Scotland and England their adopted countries it is interesting to trace the similarity of their Christian names with those of the branch of the family of which we are writing, thus strongly suggesting though not proving, kindred descent. In the family of Hay whose head always bore the title of Earl of Kinnoull we find that Sir William’s title descended to Sir David; from him was descended Sir Edmund Hay, of Melginch, who made a considerable figure in the reign of James VI. He was the father of Sir Patrick Hay, who was introduced at the Court of James VI by his uncle, James Hay, Viscount Doncaster, and Earl of Carlisle. He was made high chancellor of Scotland by Charles I. The third son of Patrick was elected one of the fifteen peers of the third and fourth British Parliaments. One of his daughters married John Erskine, last Earl of Mar. But to go on and trace out the names of this single branch would be unnecessary and uninteresting, as we merely speak of them for the purpose of showing how each branch has held the same Christian names.

The ancestors of our subject joined the colonists from Highland and Lowland Scotland, and the northern shires of England, in taking up the lands of the Province of Lister in Ireland, which were confiscated by James I, in 1607, from the rebel Earl of Tyron and Tyrconnell. These colonists trace their origin to many sources. The name of each Highland clan is represented among them, but the greatest profusion was of Lowland names, which though Scotch are not Celtic. So many of them were of English extraction and settled near Derry that they changed its name to Londonderry. There are also names of French derivation, the ancestors of those who bore them coming to England with William the Conqueror, and also a few with Dutch names, whose forefathers fled from the persecutions of Alva and Philip of Spain in the Netherlands. Notwithstanding their difference of ancestry, the colonists were as a unit in creed and political belief, and have to this day remained a separate and distinct people from their Celtic neighbors, who differ from them in temperament, political ideas and religion. All these colonists are designated by the name Scotch-Irish, and being a vigorous, industrious and fearless people, they soon made Northern Ireland a productive agricultural district which upheld the Crown and kept in check the bigoted natives. During their stay in Ireland of not over three generations it was the scene of two long and bloody wars, to say nothing of their continuous struggles with the native Celts. So when the English government, forgetting the battle of the Boyne, the siege of Derry and like struggles, began to reward their services with oppression, both political and religious, they again turned to a new land, one that had regard for human rights and liberties. The dangers and hardships in the new country were many, and to bravely face them required all the courage of the most intrepid spirit.

Among those who were willing to brave its perils, however, were the brothers Patrick, Hugh and David Hays, also William and James Hays, either brothers or near relations. They came to Pennsylvania in 1728, and all purchased land in what was then the county of Lancaster. William followed the Virginia and Carolina migrations of the few subsequent years and of his descendants we know nothing. Yet a rather striking incident occurred in Washington during the war of the Rebellion, in which possibly a descendant of his figured. The late S. T. Irvine entered a military hospital in that city, and seeing a figure on a cot which, because of the great likeness, he mistook for John Sharp Hays, exclaimed “Why, John Hays, what are you doing here?” John Hays was the name of the wounded man, only he was from South Carolina and was in the Confederate service. On the assessment list of 1751 the name of James is missing, he having probably died prior to that time. Hugh Hays, of Londonderry, died in April, 1779, leaving a wife, Jean, and brother Patrick, among other legatees. [Notes and Queries, Vol. H, p. 276.]

David Hays purchased 500 acres of land near Donegal, Lancaster county, in what is now Rapho township. This land was on the west side of the Big Chickies creek, opposite Robert Spear’s farm. He was a trustee of the Donegal Church for twelve years, and on a marble tablet in that church is recorded “Patent from John, Thomas and Richard Penn to the trustees. Rev. James Anderson, John Allison, Jas. Mitchell and David Hays, June 4th, 1740.” David Hays died in May, 1770, leaving a wife Jean and five children: Mrs. Alex Scott, John, Robert, Patrick and David. His executors were sons Robert and Patrick, and son-in-law Alex. Scott. [Notes and Queries, Vol. II, p. 264.] There are still living descendants of their branch of the family, but they are extinct in Lancaster county, the last of the name dying at Marietta in 1847.

Arthur Hays, a grandson of David, was in Revolutionary service commissioned an ensign in Capt. Pedan’s Company; participated in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown, and in the Jersey campaign. In the graveyard at Donegal church are nine gravestones which mark the resting-places of that branch of the Hays family.

The emigrant ancestor, Patrick Hays, who was the great-great-grandfather of our subject, was born in Donegal, Ireland, in 1705, and on coming to Pennsylvania, in 1728, purchased 600 acres of land in Derry township, in what was then Lancaster county, but is now Dauphin county. This tract lay about three miles south of Derry. He died Jan. 31, 1790, and with his wife, Jean, whom he married in 1729, lies in the old Derry graveyard. To them were born seven children: (1) David, born in 1731, inherited what is now the Felty farm; he afterward moved to Middle Spring, where he married Martha Wilson, a daughter of James Wilson, and five children were born to them. Wilson married Mary Culbertson. Patrick married Elizabeth Galbraith. Robert married Mary McCune. Mary married Stephen Culbertson. Jane married Hugh Hamilton. David Hays died in 1809, and his wife Martha (Wilson), in 1818.

(2) Robert, born Feb. 2, 1733, married March 25, 1762, Margaret Wray, of Derry. On Aug. 20, 1776, he enlisted as a private in Col. Galbraith’s Battalion, of Lancaster County Associators, and according to Dr. Egle, State librarian, became a commissioned officer. [In his Notes and Queries he tells of Robert having with him two servants at the battle of Brandywine, one of whom dreamed on the night before the battle that he would be killed, so he was left behind with the baggage. On returning from the battle, they found that part of the camp had been sacked and the dead body of the servant, whose dream had been fulfilled.] His (Robert’s) inheritance was what is now the Longnecker farm. To Robert and Margaret Hays were born eleven children. These were the great-grandparents of our subject. Their eleven children are as follows: (1) Jean, born in 1763, died in 1817. (2) John, born in 1765, married Margaret Gray. He was a government surveyor and moved to Lewisburg. While engaged in surveying he had many experiences, and on one occasion narrowly escaped the hatchet of an Indian. His younger brother David also became a surveyor and was employed with him at Lewisburg, where he was accidentally killed in the performance of duty Oct. 8, 1796. (3) Patrick, the third child of Robert and Margaret Hays, was the grandfather of our subject. He was born in 1767, lived for a while with his brother John in Lycoming county, and then returned to Dauphin county, and he paid frequent visits to his uncle David, near Shippensburg. On one of these visits, while riding by the Mickey residence near Oakville, he saw a young lady drawing water from a well and asked for a drink. This was his first meeting with Margaret Mickey, who became his wife Jan. 10, 1810. On another of these trips up the Cumberland Valley he was stopped by a man answering to the description of Lewis the Robber, a notorious highwayman of that day, whose hiding place was in the North Mountain. Patrick remembered clearly occurrences during the Revolutionary war, and related to his grandchildren how, during its winters, they would hear in the nights the howls of the prowling wolves around that home whose father was fighting for the independence of the Colonies. He lived to be ninety years old, and during his last sickness complained that he did not know what could be the matter with him, for he was sure he was not so old. The children of Patrick and Margaret (Mickey) Hays were as follows: Isamiah became the wife of Alexander W. Sterritt, of Newton township, and died soon after marriage, leaving one child, now the wife of Malancthon Woods; Robert Mickey Hays became the father of our subject; Margaret married James McKinstry, and both are deceased; Mary Ann is the widow of William McCune, and resides in Newville; Lucetta (deceased) was the wife of James Dunlap, of Newville; Jane died at twenty years of age, unmarried. (4) Margaret, born in 1769, married William Thome, of Hanover. (5) Robert, born in 1771, married (first) Jean Hays, daughter of Capt. Patrick Hays, and (second) Marjory Henderson, of Shippensburg. (6) David was born in 1773: his accidental death at Lewisburg we have noted above. (7) Samuel, born in 1775, died unmarried. (8) James, born in 1777, died in 1778. (9) William, born in 1779, removed to Virginia. (10) Solomon was born in 1781. studied medicine, and bringing his cases of instruments, drugs, and books to his brother Patrick’s left for the West, to choose a location in which to practice. He was never heard of after, and what fate he met will never be known. (11) Joseph, born in 1783, married and went to Equality, Illinois.

Robert Hays, the father, died June 6, 1809, and his wife Margaret died Jan. 6, 1820. They also are buried in the Derry graveyard.

Robert Mickey Hays, father of our subject, was born at Paxtang, Dauphin Co., Pa., on a farm, in 1813. He accompanied his parents to Newton township, Cumberland county, in 1820, and became a very successful farmer. In politics, he was a Republican. He married Miss Hannah Sharpe, daughter of John and Jane (McCune) Sharpe. She was born in Newton township in 1817, and died in 1889. She was a woman of admirable character, devoted to her family, and for many years a consistent member of the Presbyterian Church. The four children of their family were: (1) Margaret became the wife of Samuel I. Irvin, and both are deceased. (2) John Sharpe (deceased) married Jennie McFarland and they have three children. Belle McKinney (widow of G. E. Swope), Lucy Sharp (at home) and Jane McFarland (at home). (3) Edwin R. is the subject of this sketch. (4) Jane is the wife of Edwin McCandlish, of Newville.

* * * *

This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Biographical Annals of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania published in 1905 by The Genealogical Publishing Company. 

View additional Cumberland County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Cumberland County, Pennsylvania Biographies

View a historic 1911 map of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania

View family biographies for other states and counties

Use the links at the top right of this page to search or browse thousands of other family biographies.