Riverbend Manor
In this excerpt, taken from an 1876 woodcut, the mansion is seen close up, recognizable as it now exists. In the foreground, Captain Abraham Hays returns from a long voyage down the Mississippi and is greeted by his wife, Sarah Jane Brennamen Hays.
This close up taken from an 1876 woodcut, shows from just across the river one of the family's riverboats pushing a coal barge downriver, passing in front of the mansion.
 
In the middle of this 1900 map of Munhall and Homestead, the mansion can be seen.
This Abraham Hays, was the riverboat captain and grandson of the original Abraham Hays. Captain Hays turned the two story brick house built high above the valley after the hundred year flood of 1832 wiped out their farm into the grand manor that it is today. He and his son, William Seward Hays, both piloted the family's riverboats down the Mississippi, carrying coal from the family's coal mining operation south and bringing back fugitive slaves.
William B. Hays was the first Mayor of Pittsburgh of the 20th century.
 
The Hays family played an important role in financing the growth of Pittsburgh. This copy of a 19th century announcement of the establishment of Pittsburgh's first bank shows the name of William Hays as one of its directors.
In this remarkable photograph, Sarah Jane Hays stands before the front door of The Hays Mansion precisely above the entrance of the Underground Railroad tunnel into the mansion's basement. It can hardly be an accident that the abolitionist matriarch who was the driving force behind the family's rescue of hundreds of slaves should have chosen this precise spot for the one photograph known to have ever been taken of her.
In this photo of about 1920, Captain William Seward Hays sits on the family porch with his second wife and his three children. At the far left is his son, William Seward Hays Jr., who became a distinguished lawyer, living his whole life in the house, dying there in the 1970's.
The following notes on the history of the Hays Family are the rough and preliminary notes of a scholar. They are provided here to capture at least something of the important role that this great family played in the history and development of Pittsburgh. They will show that the Hays played a prominent part in virtually every aspect of life here over the years as they helped turn it from a wilderness into a modern city. They were farmers, coal miners, steel makers, firemen, policemen, civic leaders and founders of churches and factories. A glance through these notes will show that they were men of courage and faith and hard work. They turned an uncharted wilderness into an industrial powerhouse, creating the economic power that spread civilization across the continent…

THE HAYS FAMILY

“Among the prominent pioneer Scotch-Irish families of Allegheny County and Pennsylvania there is none more worthy of mention than the Hays family. From the “Pennsylvania Geneaologies” published by Dr. W. H. Egle, M.A. Harrisburg, Pa., the following is taken: ‘This name has had a varied orthography – in olden times De la Haye and De la Haya, while in later, Hay, Hays, and Hayes. The American branch of the family write Hays as a general thing. In Burke’s Peerage is a very interesting account of the origin of the Hays arms which was “argent, three escutcheon gules” to which was afterward added “crossed arms, each hand grasping a short sword and supporting the escutcheon gules, surmounted by a crown.”

William Hays, a native of Scotland, left that country during the religious persecutions and settled in County Tyrone, Ireland. He was at the siege of Derry, and suffered with the rest of the besieged until relief came, being absent from the family twenty-two months. The first of the Hays family to settle in Allegheny county was Abraham, who married Miss Fannie Pittee, a French lady. They removed from Maryland to Allegheny County, Pa, in 1767 and located one mile above Homestead, opposite Braddock’s Field, where they remained nine months. On account of Indian troubles, they returned to Maryland, but in 1769 once more came to this county.

Here Abraham Hays took up land which is still in possession of his descendants.

He was a Presbyterian, an upright and honorable citizen. He and his wife died on the old homestead farm where they first located, one mile above the place now known as Homestead.

Abraham Hays and James Whitaker married sisters...

Abraham and Fannie (Pittee) Hays had nine children: Francis, Isaac, Abraham, Patty, Jacob, John, Thomas, Sarah and Elizabeth.

Of these, Francis was born in 1770, married Beckey Drennen and moved in 1820 to Butler county, Pa. (They had six sons and six daughters.) Isaac married a Miss Wylie of Pittsburgh and moved down the river to Owl Creek; Abraham married and had two sons and two daughters; Patty married Steve Wylie who made the first brick ever manufactured in Pittsburgh; John was a bachelor; Thomas married Elizabeth Hamilton and had four sons and six daughter; Sarah married James Harden and had two sons and four daughters; Elizabeth died unmarried.

Jacob, fourth son of the pioneer Abraham Hays was born in 1778 and married in 1799 Jane Harden, who was born in 1779; they had the following children: James H., born in 1800, E.W. in 1802; Thomas H., Emily J, in 1806; Frances in 1808, Nancy in 1810, Mary in 1812, Abraham; John K. In 1815; Sarah, in 1817; Alexander in 1819; Ivy, in 1821, and Caroline in 1824.

Of these, James H. Married Mary Crady and died at Beck’s Run in 1876 (they had ten children) Ann E., Mary J., Josephine, Henry B. Emaline, Sarah, Agnes, James H. John S. And Walter F.

E.W. married in 1822 Ivy McKenzie, a native of Jamaica (they had ten children). Mary, born in 1822; Emily, in 1824, Sarah, in 1826; Charles in 1828, Elizabeth in 1830, Josephine in 1834, Alexander and Arthur (twins) in 1837; Thomas in 1839 and Virginia in 1841.

Emily J. married Charles Gibbs and had thirteen children; Frances married James Rippert and had four children;’ Nancy married Henry Alexander and had four children. Mary married Jacob Painter, an iron manufacturer and had five son; John K. Married a Miss Large and had three children; Sarah married David E. Park.

Thomas Hardin, father of Mrs. Jane (Hardin) Hays, was an officer in the revolutionary war and had a horse shot from under him at the battle of Brandywine.

Jacob Hays, son in law of Thomas Hardin was soldier in the late (Civil) war. Jacob Hays was a farmer and at one time owned and run a mill and distillery; he was a Presbyterian and a Freemason, was originally a democrat, but his last two votes were republican. He died Jan 2, 1866, his widow, a few months later on March 28 of the same year.

“Jacob Hays and son E.W. started the first ferry on the Monongahela river in 1811 at Six Mile Ferry. E.W. Hays handled the first stick of timber that ever went into a steamboat in Pittsburgh and which was used for a keel; he had eighteen oxen and seven horses to draw it to Six-Mile Ferry, whence it was rafted down the river.”

“THOMAS HARDEN HAYS (deceased) was born in 1804, on the old Hays farm in Mifflin township, this county. Coming to Pittsburgh in his youth, he here learned the trade of millwright and afterward embarked in the manufacture of white lead and linseed oil, in partnership with his brother in law, Jacob Painter, which firm continued until Mr. Hays’ deceased, when the property was sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Mr. Hays married Miss Sarah, Stewart daughter of Hon. Lazarus and Mary (Thompson) Stewart, former of whom was twice member of the legislature and twice elected sheriff of Allegheny county.

“Mr. and Mrs. Hays had a family of ten children, of who two sons and three daughters lived to maturity, viz. Amanda (wife of Walter F. Hunter of Oakland), Mary (widow of D. McKinley), George S. And Charles T. (who enlisted in the war of the rebellion and both died from exposure while in the service, and Alice Park (wife of David K. Calhoon) residing in Mifflin township.

“Mr. Hays died in 1853. He was a man of more than ordinary ability and intelligence and enjoyed the confidence and respect of all. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh, toward the building of which he contributed the sum of five hundred dollars.

“Captain Abraham Hays (deceased), late of Mifflin township, this county, was born in 1809 on the old Hays homestead, located on what is now known as Whittaker’s run, one and one half miles above Homestead and about one and one half miles from the Monongahela river. He was reared on the farm, and was a private pupil of H.M. Twining, a well known teacher ,for several years, until eighteen years of age, when he commenced the trade of millwright with his brother in law Charles Gibbs.

This business he followed until his marriage with Miss Sarah Brenneman of Mifflin township, soon after which event he moved into Pittsburgh, where he formed a partnership with his brother, Thomas, in the manufacturer of flaxseed oil.. (Their mill stood near the present site of the Pennsylvania union depot.). Some years later, his health failing, Capt. Hays moved to Butler County, Pa. Where he followed his trade several years; then engaged in steamboating in partnership with his brother James H., Harvey Robinson and James Lindsey, owning steamboats and towing coal.

Afterward, he purchased a farm near his residence just above Homestead, where he died. September 10, 1897. He and his wife were members of the Presbyterian church at Lebanon. They had two children, Almira Painter, who died unmarried at the age of twenty-four and Capt. W. Seward B. Hays.

Mrs. Hays was a daughter of Jacob and Susan Brenneman, who came from Westmoreland county, Pa, and settled in Mifflin township on a farm which is now in the borough of Duquesne. They were Presbyterians, of German descent, and had a family of six sons and six daughters.

CAPTAIN W. SEWARD B. HAYS, steamboat pilot, boat-owner, and coal-merchant in Pittsburgh was born in that city December 14, 1838, the only son of Abraham Hays, whose sketch appears above. When he was six months old, his parents moved to Butler county and three years later to Mifflin township, this county, where the subject of these lines obtained his education in private and public schools. On his father’s farm, he worked until eighteen years of age, at which time he commenced running on the river, assisting his father.

Captain Hays resides on the old homestead farm in Mifflin township. He was united in marriage June 7, 1876 with Flora B. Packer, a resident of Braddock and daughter of Captain Wilson and Electa (Corbet) Packer, former a retired steamboat captain and coal shipper. Captain and Mrs. Packer are members of Lebananon Presbyterian Church; in politics, Capt. Hays is a republican.” (Pg. 770)

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W. Hays is shown as having lost $12,000, among the two or three largest losers in the fire which destroyed half of the city.

Three months after the fire, it was reported that Wm. Hays was rebuilding 7 warehouses on Wood Street. (Foster, 45)

"The first Election under the Act Incorporating the City of Pittsburgh, was held on Tuesday last, when the following gentleman were elected to the select council...” one of nine men elected to the Select Council. (Commonwealth, July 9, 1816)."

W.B. Hays & Co. 351 Liberty Street is listed as a grain dealer in the Pittsburgh and Allegheny County almanac of 1867.

In Harrisburg in the House of Representatives on April 13, 1845, "One third in extent and one half in value of the city of Pittsburgh is now a mass of smouldering ruins....a hurrican of flame which in some four or five short hours of Thursday last swept over that devoted city, levellilng in its course the manaisons of the wealthy and the dwellings of the poor. Before whose irresenitable progress fell the well filled warehouse of the wholesale merchant, and the scanty collection of the retialer. Age and youth, welath and poverty were alike its victims! All this a thousand other incidents would still only serve to give you some idea of the general desolation" Findley Patterson, Speaker of the House

Wm B. Hays, Wholesale and Retail Dealer in GROCERIES, DRY GOODS, BOOTS, SHOES

PITTSBURGH MANUFACTURES, No. 220, Liberty street

Henry Hays was a member of the board of managers of the Guardians of the Poor. "The Guardians of the Poor of Pittsburgh have a Farm of 140 acres eight miles up the Monongahela River on which are erected buildings which cost, in connection with the Farm, some $50,000. The inmates of the Poor House average about 220 per year; the products of the farm average about $11,000 per year.”

Richard Hays was the first Director of the City Passenger Railways, chartered in 1859 with a route from the "office near St. Clair, via Penn to Lawrenceville and Sharpsburg; distance 5 miles (The Iron city).” His wife, Mrs. R.S. Hays is listed as a manager of the Ladies' Relief Society in the Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Almanac of 1867.

Charles Hays, a trustee of the First Presbyterian Church, "wood, bet Sixth St. and Virgin ay; "The first church erected was one of logs, built about the year 1780. In 1805, a brick church was built over it. In 1852 a stone one.

Corresponding Secretary of the Allegheny Ladies' Society was Mary J. Hays. "This society was organized upwards of 20 years ago and is conducted entirely by the ladies of Allegheny City. Its object is to supply all public institutions and private citizens with a copy of the word of God."

Mrs. Robert S. Hays, Secretary of the Allegheny Ladies' Tract Society, instituted twenty three years ago.

The Pittsburgh and St. Louis Packet Line was composed of a dozen :splendid Steamers" including the Maggie Hays, leaving for St. Louis and all intermediate points on each Wednesday and Satu5rday at 5 o'clock p.m. Steamers leave daily for other western ports, water permitting.

Vast quantities of lumber are sawed along this river (the Allegheny) and floated in rafts to Pittsburgh and towns below. It is navigable for keelboats about 250 miles. The country between the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers is the richest coal region in the Union."

Richard Biddle and William Hays chosen by the Select Council to serve for three years as trustees of the gas works on the part of the City, on the 18th of May, 1836. Richard Biddle, Esq. President

"Washington st. width 40 feet, runs from Dr. Hays' land to Harmony alley...Harmony alley , width 20 feet, runs from the Monongahela southwardly: List of Street, Lanes, Alleys, &c. in Birmingham and vicinity

"Peach and Pineapple Preserves" Mrs. W. Seward B. Hays, pg. 132

"While Pittsburgh was yet but a village , a community of immigrants scattered along the forks of the Ohio; while Indian and trapper mingled in narrow streets and the neighboring settlers had hardly begun to recover from the devastating inroads which attended the close of the Revolutionary struggle, the first movement was taken toward the organization of a Fire Department...The best men of early Pittsburgh were among the first officers...and the distinction was evidently conferred only on citizens of eminence and character. The Pittsburgh Volunteers did noble service in the early days of town and city, and fought fire with the same indomitable courage and fidelity that many a volunteer fireman afterwards displayed on the field of battle for the Union. A glance over the list of the volunteer firemen of Pittsburgh shows the companies to have been composed of leading members of the community, whose only fault, when they had a fault, was that they were ful of zeal and ambition to win distinction and earn the gratitude of their fellow citizens...The first organized company of which actual data can be obtained is the Eagle Fire Engine and Hose Company. this was organized in 1794, while Pittsburgh was yet a village in which horse ponds occupied the sites of some of our greatest business establishments.

"The services of the Eagle in the memorable fire of 1845, described in the Police History, were of great value. This little engine, by its persistent work in subduing the fire in the Third Church, stopped the spread in that direction, and probably saved a large portion of the city. In the summer of 1849 Captain William Hays of the Eagle, lost his life in the discharge of duty at a fire near the corner of Water street and Redoubt alley. He was one of several brave men who were sacrificed in the fire service during the long history of the Eagle (Dawson, 1889).”

In 1850, J. R. Hays was listed as an honorary member of the Eagle company.

In 1824, William Hays was appointed to a committee to raise $50,000 for the Pittsburgh water works, which were put in operation in 1828. Thenceforward, the down town companies had no further use for buckets...pg. 30

On May 5, 1870, Henry Hays was chosen President of the first Board of Fire Commissioners and served until 1873. In 1874, W.B. Hays was named to the Board and in 1878 to its presidency, serving on the Board until 1884. (pg. 95)

M.D. Hays was treasurer of No. 2. Mechanic's Hose Company, on Carson Street, organized in November, 1866. "the company expect to remove to Liberty Street as son as the new house is completed.

John Hays is a hoseman with Hook & Ladder Company #8 after the Civil War.

"Henry Hays, the first President of the Board, was a member of the Volunteer Department and a successful merchant." pg 75

"William B. Hays lost a fortune in business through no fault of his own, unless goodness of heart is a fault. He was elected City Assessor, tried business again, and found another competency in oil." pg 76

"In 1881, he (Henry Clay Bughman) noted financier, became a trustee of the estate of his grandfather, James H. Hays, the coal operator. "

"The history of the develoment of the coal industry in Pennsylvania has never been well recorded. In the early days of this country, and for at least seventy five years after the Revolution, ours was an agricultural and not an industrial country. To the early pioneers, coal was only a mineral like limestone or something of the sort, and few of them left any written records of their observations. They were too busy building homes and conquering the wilderness. It has been definitely established, however; that not until 1854 did industry begin to lead agriculture. Since that time the development of the coal industry has played a tremendous part in making the state of Pennsylvania one of the greatest mineral and manufacturing areas in the entire world.".

Sometime during the year 1852, the Pennsylvania railroad was completed through the site upon which is now built the town of Irwin. In the following year, 1853, the first coal was mined for transportation eastward over the recently constructed railroad. (pg. 765)

Hays, James D., steamboat captain, 348 Second avenue Hays, James A., deckhand, 348 Second avenue Hays, Jennie, 348 Second avenue

Charles Hays, 1869, incorporator of Allegheny Cemetery

"For several years previous to 1803 John Davidson and William Hays conducted a tannery on quite an extensive scale for that day..." pg 199 History of Pittsburgh

"In 1821 Grant's Hill Iron Works were erected by William H. Hays and David Adams. The engine of eighty horsepower was built by the Columbian Steam Engine Company. In 1826, employment was given to thirty hands and the annual value of the products was about $67,000. They manufactured bar, boiler, nail, hoop and rod iron from 600 tons of pig metal and 200 tons of blooms." pg. 270 hist of pitt

William B. Hays and David Adams built a rolling mill on Grant's Hill in 1821, the second one in the state. Its location was near the ground now occupied by the court house. They hauled water for the boiler from the river. Boucher, John Newton, 1854 1933. (A Century)

In 1836 after the financial panic of 1834 John Hays was among those appointed commissioners to establish a bank, "Exchange Bank of Pittsburg".

On March 2, 1860, a group of men including Richard S. Hays, set out to found a school of English and classical literature and science which became the University of Pittsburgh. A half century later, Wm. B. Hays was to serve as a trustee of the university. Vol.1 The Pittsburgh record. Alumni magazine of the University of Pittsburgh.

Wm B. Hays, march 17, 1903 to March 31 1906, served on the board of the Carnegie Library

Private Company "E" Wm B. Hays, transferred to 199th Regt. P.V. Oct. 14, 1864, veteran Crumrine, Boyd, 1838 1916 Captain Abraham Hays

The grandson of the pioneer Abraham Hays was born on July 18, 1809 less than a year after the death of the grandfather for whom he was named. His father was Jacob Hays, the fourth son of the pioneer after whom Abraham was named, and one of nine children of his mother, Jane Scott Hardin Hays. Born in Homestead, he was to live his entire life, nearly eighty years, in Mifflin Township.

When he was twenty-six years of age, he married Sarah Jane Brenneman on November 26, 1835 and died on September 10, 1887 at home in the mansion whose building he completed. The house that he lived and died in looks much as it does today. (See page 00 for a contemporary woodcut.) Abraham Hays is buried nearby in the family plot in the West Mifflin Township cemetery. While his wife was six months his senior, she outlived him by 13 years, living into the 20th century. She was born into a world in which slavery was accepted as both natural and legal, except by the radical religious community in which she was reared.

Thanks to her and others like her in courage and determination, she left behind a world in which slavery was a thing of the past. An ardent abolitionist, she had a powerful influence on both her husband and son, convincing them both to use their skills and steamboats in the cause of freedom.

Sarah Jane Brenneman was born on January 14, 1808 in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. She died at home in the mansion in which she lived her entire adult life on October 20 1900. She is buried next to her husband in the family plot in West Mifflin Township.

On November 26, 1835, Sarah married Abraham Hays. The newly married couple moved into the Hays Mansion along with his father

The two children of Abraham Hayes and Sarah Jane Brenneman were:Al and William Seward Hayes, 1838-1920.

William Steward Hayes was married twice, once in 1876. He and his wife Flora Bell Packer Hays had two children: Abraham, and Flora Bell.

In 1894, after his first wife’s death, he married her sister Lily Jane Packer. They had two children William S. Hays, Jr. and Sarah Hays.

A primary historical source for this document were interviews with Dorothy M. Hays who was born in 1920. The wife of William S. Hays, the son of the riverboat captain. She lived in the Hays Mansion for over sixty years until shortly before her death on February 24, 2004.

Susan Klippinger, Sarah Jane’s mother, was born on May 10, 1779 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She married Jacob Brenneman on February 5, 1799 in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania. It was here within the Mennonite community that she gave birth to her daughter, Sarah Jane. After her husband’s death, she moved from Westmoreland and lived with her daughter and the rest of the Hays family in the Munhall Mansion. She died in the winter of 1860/1861 and is buried in Lebanon Cemetery nearby.

Her parents were Jacob Brenneman and Susan Klippinger.

December 29, 1764 Jacob Brenneman and Roseannah Evans.

Jacob HAYS

Birth records show that Abraham and Frances Hays’s son, Jacob, was born in Joppa, Baltimore County, Maryland on February 4, 1778

Jacob Hays died on January 2, 1866 and is buried in Homestead.

In October, 1799, Jacob married Jane Scott Harden West Mifflin, West Mifflin Twp, Allegheny Co Pa

Wm B. Hays, march 17, 1903 to March 31 1906, served on the board of the Carnegie Library

Private Company "E" Wm B. Hays, transferred to 199th Regt. P.V. Oct. 14, 1864, veteran Crumrine, Boyd, 1838 1916

1874: William B. Hays on board of fire commissioners

Sarah Jane Brenneman was born on January 14, 1808 in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. She died at home in the mansion in which she lived her entire adult life on October 20 1900. She is buried next to her husband in the family plot in West Mifflin Township.

On November 26, 1835, Abraham Hays married Sarah Brenneman Hays. The newly married couple moved into the Hays Mansion along with his father

The two children of Abraham Hayes and Sarah Jane Brenneman were:Al and William Seward Hayes, 1838-1920.

William Steward Hayes was married twice, once in 1876. He and his wife Flora Bell Packer Hays had two children: Abraham, and Flora Bell.

In 1894, after his first wife’s death in 1890, he married her sister Lily Jane Packer. They had two children William S. Hays, Jr. and Sarah Hays.

A primary historical source for this document were interviews with Dorothy M. Hays who was born in 1920. The wife of William S. Hays, the son of the riverboat captain. She lived in the Hays Mansion for over sixty years until shortly before her death on February 24, 2004.

Jacob HAYS Birth records show that Abraham and Frances Hays’s son, Jacob, was born in Joppa, Baltimore County, Maryland on February 4, 1778 so it could have been no earlier than the following Spring that the Hays family and other pioneers would have set out on their westward voyage. They would have wanted to arrive with plenty of time to clear ground for planting and to build a log cabin before cold weather set in.

Jacob Hays died on January 2, 1866 and is buried in Homestead.

In October, 1799, Jacob married Jane Scott Harden West Mifflin, West Mifflin Twp, Allegheny Co Pa

Mayor William B. Hays, circa 1903

November 28, 1812, William Hays one of the incorporators and directors of the Bank of Pittsburgh (City of Allegheny, 10.)

The Pittsburgh directory for 1815, containing the names, professions and residence of the heads of families and persons in business, in the borough of Pittsburgh shows on page 118 that William Hays was a Director of the Bank of Pittsburgh, one of three banks in the city in 1815.

George Thompson, J John B. C. Lucas, Francis McClure, George Robinson, James Riddle, William Hays, Hugh Davis, William Porter, John M. Snowden, William Kerr, Samuel Jones, William Boggs, Thomas ...

There is a reference to a clerk, who about 1860 entered the employ of William B. Hays & Co., wholesale pork dealers, remaining in this position about two years (Memoirs)

In the early 1880's, John Cross went into the oil refining business, entering the employ of the Chambers Oil Company under William B. Hays at Brush Creek (Memoirs).