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John Hays

Birthdate: (84)
Death: November 30, 1921 (84)
Immediate Family:

Son of John Hays and Eleanor Hays
Husband of Jane Van Ness Hays

Managed by: Patrick William Hays
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About John Hays

From Judy Hayes-Barnes - Mar 25, 2000

   From Cumberland and Adams Counties, Pennsylvania (Warner, Beers & Co 1886)

" John Hays, president of the Carlisle Deposit Bank, and a prominent and successful member of the bar, is a descendant of the Hays and Blaine families, two of the oldest and most prominent in the State. His paternal great-grandfather, Adam Hays, was a descendant of a Holland family, who immigrated to America at an early day, and who became members of the Swedish settlement at New Castle on the Delaware. Adam Hays was born at New Castle, and immigrated to Cumberland County, Penn., and settled on the north bank of the Conodoguinet Creek, in Frankford Township, in 1730.His sons, Adam and Joseph ( the latter the grandfather of our subject), were born in Cumberland County. Joseph married and had three sons: Adam, John and Joseph. John was born in August, 1794; was a farmer in early life, and at thirty years of age engaged in the iron trade. He married twice: first, Miss Jane Pattieson, of Cumberland County. They had one daughter, Annie E. (She also married twice; her first husband was Lieut. Richard West, a nephew of United Stated Judge Taney; her second husband was Lieut.-Col. J.W.T. Garder.) Mrs. Jane (Pattieson) Hays died in 1822 or 1823, and Mr. Hays married Mrs. Eleanor B. Wheaton, a daughter of Robert Blaine. She was a grand-daughter of Col. Ephraim Blaine, of Cumberland County, who was born in Ireland, and came with his parents to Cumberland County in 1745, when he was but a year old. Col Ephraim Blaine was a prominent man and served his county and country. He was a friend and confidant of Washington, and was sheriff of Cumberland County in 1771, and during the Revolution was deputy commissary-general with the rank of colonel. Mr. and Mrs. John Hays were members of the Presbyterian Church. He died April 29, 1854, and she January 9, 1839. They had two sons and one daughter: Robert Blaine Hays, Mary Wheaton Hays, (who married Richard O. Mullikin, of Baltimore), and John Hays, the subject of our sketch. The last named graduated from old Dickinson College in the class of 1857, and that year entered the law office of Hon. R.M. Henderson, and was admitted to the bar of Cumberland County in August, 1859. In 1862 Mr. Hays entered Company A, One Hundred and Thirtieth Volunteer Infantry; was promoted first lieutenant, then adjutant of the regiment, and then adjutant-general of a brigage. He was mustered out May 1, 1863. He was wounded in the right shoulder at Chancellorsville by a musket ball, and had seven other balls that cut his clothing and killed his horse under him. He was in the battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg. The Second Corps, of which his regiment was a part, lost 5,500 men at Antietam. The entire regiment was commanded by the gallant Col. H.I. Zinn, as the regiment was not organized at the time and had no field or staff officers. At Fredicksburg Col. Zinn lost his life. After his regiment was mustered out, Mr. Hays returned to Carlisle and formed his present partnership with his preceptor, Hon. R. M. Henderson. Mr. Hays married Miss Jane Van Ness Smead, August 8, 1865. She was born in the city of New York, a daughter of Capt. R. C. Smead and Sarah (Radcliffe) Smead. Her father was a graduate of West Point, and captain in the Mexican war. He died of yellow fever while on his way home at the close of the war. Capt. John R Smead, brother to Mrs. Hays, was in command of a battery in the battle of the second Bull Run, where he was killed. Our subject and wife are members of the Presbyterian Church at Carlisle, and have two sons and three daughters: Anna A., Elizabeth S., George M., Raphael S. and Eleanor B. Mr Hays is a prominent and successful business man. He is a Republican, and was a delegate to the National Convention in 1880. He was one of the original trustees and mainly instrumental in the management of the building of the Metzgar Institute of Carlisle, of which his uncle, George Metzgar, was the founder. Mr. Hays is a member of the board of directors of the Carlisle Gas & Water Company; vice-president and chairman of the executive committee for the Carlisle Manufactoring Company."

From Bios: Selected biographies and genealogy data: Durand and Richard: Cumberland Co, PA nbios01.txt

Contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by Joe Cannon.

1. JOHN HAYS was the president of the Carlisle Deposit Bank.

Adam Hays was descended from a Holland family that came to the US early on,

settling in New Castle on the Delaware. Adam came from New Castle to

Cumberland Co in 1730. He had sons Adam and Joseph.

Joseph had 3 sons: Adam, John and Joseph.

John was born Aug 1794. He married twice: Jane Pattison (they had a

daughter Annie) and Eleanor B Wheaton. John died 4/29/1854. He had 3

children: Robert Blaine Hays, Mary Wheaton Hays and John Hays.

John Hays married Jane Van Ness Smead. Children: Anna, Elizabeth,

George, Raphael and Eleanor.

Cumberland Residents Who Made a Difference

Hays was 'boss'

By David Blymire

Sentinel Reporter

(Cumberland County Historical Society)

John Hays

John Hays was a lawyer who spent what would today be considered his retirement years founding and managing Frog, Switch and Manufacturing Co. in Carlisle.

He jealously protected his company's best interests, as can be seen in a battle with borough council for control of the Carlisle Gas and Water Co. board.

Hays, who also was president of the gas and water company, believed council ultimately wanted to charge Frog, Switch higher rates for electricity to subsidize lower residential rates. He responded by cutting off the power to councilmen's homes and firing one who worked at the plant.

Raphael S. Hays II, great-grandson of Hays and chairman of the company's board of directors, recalls a comment his aunt once made about the elder Hays, who was her grandfather.

"She said he was a very imperial type of person... not arrogant, but he was the boss."

John Hays also owned the Carlisle Herald newspaper for decades and was an original trustee of Metzger Institute, a women's school on North Hanover Street in Carlisle. He was president of Carlisle Deposit Bank, a delegate to the 1880 Republican National Convention and a Republican voter in the 1904 electoral college that elected Theodore Roosevelt as president.

Math whiz

Hays was born on a farm west of Carlisle in 1837 and attended what were known as the sommon schools. He graduated from Dickinson College in 1857.

A good student capable of carrying B's in most subjects in college, he was a standout in math — a subject that would no doubt help him later in life.

He was admitted to the bar in 1859 and began practicing law in partnership with Robert M. Henderson.

"He was a smart man, very practical," says Raphael Hays, who is compiling a biography of his great-grandfather. "His idea as a lawyer was to get things done, not to fight over every little aspect of the law."

Raphael Hays surmises his great-grandfather entered the legal profession as an escape from the poverty of life on the farm.

The Hays family owned a farm on the banks of Conodoguinet Creek about seven miles west of Carlisle.

John Hays' father, also named John, worked hard on the farm and also served as a director of Cumberland Valley Railroad. But when he died, he was thousands of dollars in debt.

"That might have had something to do with John Hays' drive to succeed, " Raphael Hays says.

Survived Civil War

The young Hays wasn't the typical hard-bitten realist who had no interest in thinking about philosophical issues.

In college during the 1850s, he wrote about the possibilities of a world government. And while he despised slavery, he opposed the abolitionists and believed bringing slaves into the North would give them false hope and leave them stranded in communities where people wouldn't want them.

He was against radical social change and believed that such ills as slavery should be changed gradually, an attitude probably influenced by Dickinson students who hailed from the South, Raphael Hays says.

Regardless of his philosophy, when he was called upon to fight for the Union in the Civil War, he answered, participating in the battles of Antietam and Chancellorsville.

His term of service ended not long before the Battle of Gettysburg, as his 5-foot-9, 170-pound frame had been shot eight times. He carried a bullet in his leg for the balance of his life.

Hays attended numerous reunions of his Civil War regiment after the war.

After he was discharged from the Army he returned to Carlisle and resumed his law practice.

He first turns up in the history of Frog, Switch as a signatory to the incorporation of the company's predecessor, The Carlisle Manufacturing Co., in February 1882.

Carlisle Manufacturing Co. was established at the familiar Frog, Switch site on Trindle Road in Carlisle and made freight cars and railroad track parts such as frogs and switches.

The company profited from a national boom in building railroads in the 1880s.

In August 1882 the Carlisle Herald reported "buildings going up, cars, engines and other machinery being shipped every day east, west, south and north." (The fact that Hays owned the Herald from 1877 to 1909 may be one reason for the high praise in published accounts of company successes near the turn of the century.)

New company established

By 1896 the company's product line expanded to include hog and horse troughs, cistern boxes, rods, bolts, castings, cellar grates and well-drilling equipment.

That was after the company encountered its first severe test during the "Panic of 1893," a nationwide depression that prompted the failure of an estimated 15,000 businesses.

Demand for the company's products tailed off sharply, and company officials faced a $165,000 debt. The financial stress was inflamed by a large loss on an order of rail cars to Cuba that were not built to the specifications the Cubans needed.

Hays became chairman of an executive committee and acted as a trustee for a receivership. During that time the Frog and Switch Department was "conducted at a handsome profit," but the company as a whole could not make a profit and was forced into public sale, Raphael Hays writes in his company history.

John Hays and several others bought the company's land and the buildings housing the Frog and Switch Department at a public sale. They incorporated a new entity called The Manufacturing Co. in 1898, when Hays was in his early 60s.

The new company produced only railroad switches, crossings, and frogs — track sections that allow trains to cross over other rails at switches and crossings.

The name was changed to "The Frog, Switch and Manufacturing Co." in 1907.

More trouble

A 1909 fire destroyed the plant, but Hays rebuilt it, and it became profitable again by 1910.

In 1913, a manganese steel foundry was built. The foundry opened new products and markets for the company, outlasting its namesake — the frogs and switches — which declined along with the rail industry until it closed in 1969.

Just two years after selling the Carlisle Herald, Hays got a lot of bad press from his former paper as well as The Sentinel for his handling of a dispute with Carlisle Borough Council.

The Sentinel accounts indicate that "consternation was caused among a number of our businesses" when Hays cut off their electricity in July 1911. Raphael Hays says John Hays also cut off power to the borough councilmen.

The dispute revolved around Hays' support of an amendment to the Carlisle Gas and Water charter allowing the utility company to provide electricity.

It already had been providing electricity "for a number of years past, " The Sentinel reported.

Hays was quoted as saying most of an increase in profit from electricity was realized by charging Frog, Switch a higher rate to use it. He believed borough council really wanted to increase Frog, Switch's rates even more to subsidize a reduction in rates to other users.

Borough council voted 8-1 to direct its three representatives on the board to oppose a charter amendment authorizing the utility to sell electricity. That triggered the angry response from Hays.

"The power was cut off without practically any notice at all, except at the time the company's employees cut the wires," The Sentinel reported.

The matter ended up in Cumberland County Court, where Judge Wilbur F. Sadler issued an injunction ordering the company to restore power.

And Hays fired an employee who served on borough council for voting to oppose the charter amendment. Published accounts refer to him only as Mr. Sanderson, who ran a machine at Frog, Switch for an annual salary of $700.

"Mr. Sanderson had been helped out of serious difficulty by his employer," Hays was quoted as saying in The Sentinel. "He was false to his employer and to his fellow workmen."

Hayes died in 1921 at age 84. By 1925 Pennsylvania Power and Light was the owner of the former Carlisle Gas and Water Co. plant in the first block of North Spring Garden Street not far from the Frog, Switch plant.

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John Hays's Timeline

February 2, 1837
November 30, 1921
Age 84