Solomon Hayes (4 September 1792 – 26 October 1859)

Although there is no direct evidence that Solomon Hayes was the son of Samuel Hayes, the circumstantial evidence is strong enough to prove the relationship.  See the separate detailed explanation.

James H. Hayes diary information

His son James Houston Hayes kept a diary in which he wrote that his father was Solomon Hayes and his mother was Milly Hester.1  The diary gives his father’s birth date as 4 September 1792.  His  mother’s birth date is written as 27 March 1801 in one place and 27 March 1797 in another (the latter being more likely). He wrote his mother’s name as “Millard”, “Milliard”, and “Milly” in three different places, and that “they was both raised in North Carolina.”  The diary also lists the children of the marriage with their birth dates.

The same diary gives his parents’ marriage date as 5 November 1814.  Like many of the dates in his diary, this is close but not completely accurate.   The marriage bond in Granville County, North Carolina for the marriage of Solomon Hays and Milly Hester is dated three days later, on 8 November 1814.2  William Hester, her brother, was the bondsman, her father having died two years earlier.

Limited records in Granville County

There are only a few references to Solomon Hayes in Granville County, all apparently referring to the same person. He served in the War of 1812, as the name “Solomon Hayes” appears on the War of 1812 roster of the 8th Company, 5th Regiment of Granville.3 Although undated, the roster was evidently taken in mid-1812 when the Granville militia was temporarily transferred to the regular army.

Solomon Hayes was enumerated in the Granville County 1820 census, heading a household of one male 26-45, one male 16-26, one male under 10, one female over 45, one female 26-45, one female 16-26, and two females under 10.   The three youngest children are evidently his own Mary, Martha, and William.  The three others in the household are probably his widowed mother and a younger brother and sister.   His household was one of only 64 in the Tabb’s Creek district, along with those of his uncle  Samuel Hayes  and his brother-in-law William Hester. 4   (Tabb’s Creek itself begins in eastern Granville, just east of Oxford, and runs southeast into what is now Vance County, where it empties into the Tar River.)

On 7 February 1825  his brother-in-law William Hester deeded to Solomon Hayes 106½ acres on the waters of Fishing Creek in Granville County.5  I was unable to find any record of Solomon Hayes selling this land, but this places him in Granville as late as early 1825.

Moves to McMinn County, Tennessee

He evidently moved to McMinn County, Tennessee very shortly thereafter. The first four children, all born by 1822, give their birth place as North Carolina in later censuses, while the rest of the children, born 1824 and after, give Tennessee as their birth state. The family legend is that Solomon moved to Tennessee about 1825 with his widowed mother and younger sister Mary.  What facts we can find seem to fit this legend.

He appears in the surviving 1829, 1830, 1831, and 1832 tax lists of McMinn County, being taxed each year on 480 acres (except 1831 when he was taxed on 180 acres) and a single white poll.   How he acquired this land is unknown, as there are no deeds or grants recorded to him prior to his purchase of 160 acres in 1831.  He was enumerated in the same district in all four years, and was the only person named Hayes listed in his district. 6   He was enumerated in the 1830 census of McMinn County with a household consisting of one male under 5, one male 10-15, one male 30-40, one female under 5, two females 5-10, one female 10-15, one female 30-40 and one female 40-50.  It appears that his sister Mary was already out of the household, presumably having married to John W. Price.   The elder female is assumed to be his widowed mother.

There are no deeds or grants to Solomon Hayes in McMinn County until 1831.  On 26 February 1831 David Roper sold to Solomon Hayes 160 acres in Section 36 of Township 3 Range 3 West.7

In the 1836 tax list, the next one available, he appears in the same district as the Witt family, John W. Price (his sister Mary’s husband), and a James Hayes.   Solomon Hayes was taxed on the same 480 acres, but was charged for no white polls, suggesting that he may have been a non-resident that year.  Indeed, he was enumerated across the Hiwassee River in adjacent Bradley County in the 1840 census (see below.)

Milly Hayes bequest from Benjamin Hester

In 1830, Millie Hester Hayes’ uncle Benjamin Hester died without children of his own, leaving his considerable estate to his numerous siblings, nieces, and nephews.  Millie inherited an interest in that estate. On 26 June 1841, Solomon Hayes and his wife Mildred “one of the daughters of Francis Hester dec’d and on of the heirs, legatees and distributees of the late Benjamin Hester dec’d under his will” of Bradley County sold their one-eighth interest in a tract of land in Granville County, formerly owned by Millie’s uncle Benjamin Hester, to David J. Young for $267.8  On 24 November 1842, Solomon and Millie sold their remaining interest in the estate of Benjamin Hester to Young for $1,182.91.9   The next year, on 21 June 1843, they appointed David J. Young their attorney in Granville County to pursue an accounting of Benjamin Hester’s estate.10   Solomon Hayes signed his name to all three documents, while Milly signed by her mark.

In 1840 he was enumerated across the Hiwassee River in newly-formed Bradley County  with a household of one male 10-15, one male 15-20, one male 40-50, two females under 5, two females 5-10, one female 10-15, one female 40-50 and one female 50-60.

The move to Texas

Solomon Hayes, his mother and sister, and several sons-in-law probably came to Texas together, along with several other residents of McMinn and Bradley counties.   Descendants believed that his sons William and James were in Texas as early as 1846 or1847.11  That seems accurate given the birth states of the various children in later censuses.  The unfortunate total destruction of the Titus County courthouse in 1895 leaves us with few records.   However, we do know that his son William Hayes was clerk of the church at Snow Hill in March 1848.12  Solomon Hayes and several members of his family also appear in the minutes of the Snow Hill Baptist Church which are undated but cover the period 1844 to 1852.13  Most of what follows was obtained from elderly descendants in the 1970s.

Solomon Hayes was said to have bought land in the Snow Hill community of Titus County from James Francis Box. He is listed next door to Box, in Snow Hill, in the 1850 census. The household includes Solomon (age 52), Millie (45), and the three youngest daughters below. His sons-in-law (with one exception) are nearby. His mother is not in the household, but the Snow Hill church minutes include a pre-1850 reference to “Elizabeth Hays, dead” indicating she came to Texas with her son.

Snow Hill was located within the original grant of James Francis Box.   John Henderson arrived in the area about 1840 (apparently also from McMinn County), married Eliza Box, the daughter of James Francis Box, and settled on part of the land.  The now-defunct town of Snow Hill was created from a fourteen-acre parcel belonging to this John Henderson.14  James F. Box owned the town’s original general store on the lot adjoining Solomon Hayes’ land. The town was located in Titus County, for which all early deeds were lost, but when Morris County was formed in 1875, part of the town lay in Morris and some early deeds for that part of the town still exist. Snow Hill died as a town when the East Line and Red River Railroad ran its line south of the town and established a new station called Cason a few miles south. Essentially, the residents of Snow Hill relocated most of the town to Cason about 1880. A casual search of the area twenty years ago failed to turn up any evidence of the old town.15

The Breck Witt letter

An 1947 letter from William Breckenridge Witt to Mary Lou Witt mentions this family:16

…the [William Witt] family moved from North Carolina to East Tennessee where my father married Lizzie Hayes…your great grandmother, Lizzie Hayes, was also born in East Tennessee. There were ten children in her family. Two boys and eight girls. Her people came from Ireland and her father’s name was Solomon Hayes and his wife was named Mary. The children’s names are as follows: Aunt Emm Massy, Uncle William Hayes. Two of the girls married Hendersons. Uncle Jim comes next. I don’t know the others as they did not come to Texas. I forgot to mention Aunt Judy Butler. She was the oldest.

My mother Lizzie Hayes Witt (your great grandmother) was a second cousin to President of the United States Rutherford B. Hayes…

(As with many family legends, this is wishful thinking. There is no relationship with the family of Rutherford B. Hayes.)

The Hayes Cemetery

Solomon Hayes and his wife are apparently among the first persons buried in the Hayes Cemetery.   This cemetery was located on the Hayes farm, the site of Snow Hill Baptist Church from 1850-1852 and, after 1866, at the site of the Bethel Baptist Church, off the road leading from Mt. Pleasant to Jefferson (now Highway 49).   The cemetery is barely accessible, and has not been maintained.  About a dozen stones are readable, at least in part.  The earliest stones are unmarked, and may include the graves of Solomon Hayes and his wife.

Modern gravestones placed by descendants have replaced the originals in a few cases, including Solomon Hayes and his wife.


The children were listed by James Houston Hayes in his diary, along with their birth dates. All but the eldest were well known by descendants in Titus County in the 1950s, when interviewed by Vineta Witt Ketner.   Judy Hayes Butler was apparently one of the sources for Ms. Ketner.

      1. Mary Hayes (6 August 1815 – by 1830?) Although James Houston Hayes listed his sister Mary Hayes in his diary he provided no information other than her birth date. This, combined with the fact that no female is in Solomon Hayes’ household in either 1830 or 1840, suggests that she died young. Her absence from the 1830 household might be explained by an early marriage, but it seems unlikely she married before she was 15. While it is possible that she was the Mary Hayes who married John Wesley Price, it seems more likely that Price’s wife was the sister of Solomon Hayes rather than his daughter.
      2. Martha Hayes (9 September 1819 – 11 August 1860) She married John E. Holland on 24 December 1838 in McMinn County, Tennessee.17  Breck Witt’s letter does not mention her, but James Hayes’ diary does. They probably came to Texas with John Holland’s family (he was the son of John and Martha Holland), and are in the 1850 and 1860 Dallas County censuses. He died in Texas 16 Oct 1865 according to a family group sheet at the LDS library submitted by Joann van Boven. The 1850 and 1860 censuses show the children as Tolbert (c1840), Gilbert M. (c1842), Anazena/Arvazena (c1843), William C. (c1844), Artelisa (c1847), Albert L. (c1850), and Ruth (c1852). The eldest child Tolbert died in February 1860 according to the 1860 Mortality census.
      3. William R. Hayes (2 February 1820 – 11 January 1892) According to descendants, he was married three times. He was the William Hayes who married Margaret Butler on 22 August 1840 in McMinn County, Tennessee with Ezekiel Hayes as surety.18  [The identity of Ezekiel Hayes is a mystery.]   Margaret Butler was the daughter of Anderson and Tabitha Butler, who had also moved from Granville County to McMinn County.  She was also the elder sister of John Phillip Butler, who married Judith Hayes, sister of William Hayes.  Margaret evidently died after the Hayes family came to Texas, but before 1850. She is listed as “dead” among the early members of the Snow Hill Baptist church in the minutes referenced above. The 1850 Titus County census lists William Hayes with his second wife, 18-year old Nancy Emaline Barrier whom he had married on 14 September 1849.  There are four children listed in the 1850 household: Margaret Hayes (9), James Polk Hayes (5), Milly Hayes (3), and George Hayes (6/12). The first three are apparently children of Margaret Butler.  By the 1860 census, the daughter Margaret was listed as “Jane” and Milly was listed as “Margaret”, and three more children were in the household: A. (7), C. C. (5), and Sarah Elizabeth (3). Three more children were in the 1870 household: Ashberry (19), Josephine (14), and Laura (11). The second wife, Nancy, died on 11 May 1872, and is buried with William in the Hayes Cemetery in Snow Hill. Her birth date on the stone is 8 December 1833. William Hayes married for a third time to Polly Wright Beasley Witt (whose second husband had been his brother-in-law William Witt.) The 1880 census shows William Hayes, his wife Polly, his children Sarah Elizabeth (22), Ashberry (19), Josephine (14), Laura (11), and Polly’s two children by William Witt, Robert Franklin Witt (17) and Nathaniel Witt (11). William Hayes’ daughter Sarah Elizabeth Hayes later married her stepbrother Robert Franklin Witt. William Hayes operated a cotton mill in Snow Hill, and owned the land on which the Hayes Cemetery is located. He is credited with giving the Snow Hill church the land on which the first permanent building was established.19  He is buried in Hayes Cemetery, as is his second wife. His third wife is buried in the Concord Cemetery.
      4. Emily Hayes (14 May 1822 – 14 October 1894) She married John Massey on 17 January 1839 in McMinn County, Tennessee.20  They were evidently living in Bradley County in the 1840s, where John Massey signed the same petition as William Witt. They are in the 1850 Titus County census with no children, and likewise in the 1860 and 1880 censuses with no children . Both are buried in the Hayes Cemetery. Although listed as a farmer in the censuses, John Massey was also a Baptist preacher who organized the Bethel Baptist Church in Snow Hill in 1866.21  This church was believed to have been located at the site of the Hayes Cemetery. In 1872 the church moved and was renamed the Snow Hill Church and Cemetery.22  John Massey is said to have converted Solomon Hayes Price in the early 1870s.
      5. Judith Hayes (22 August 1824 – 22 April 1916) Although Breck Witt’s letter says she was the oldest, her brother’s diary gives her birth date as fifth in the family. She married John Phillip Butler, brother of Margaret Butler above and son of Anderson and Tabitha Butler, probably about 1842 in Bradley or McMinn County, Tennessee. They are in the Titus County 1850 census living next door to William Hayes, and are in the 1860, 1870, and 1880 census in Titus County. Their children, from these records, were: Solomon A. (c1843), Emily J. (c1844), Margaret E. (c1847), George W. (a twin, c1854), and Christopher Columbus (a twin, c1854). Another child, born in 1858, died as an infant and is buried in the Hayes Cemetery. According to elderly relatives interviewed in the 1970s, Judy Hayes Butler inherited an old bed supposedly brought from Tennessee, which was at that time in the home of her granddaughter Ollie Coleman. (Ms. Coleman’s home was the house originally built for my great-grandparents Edward Young Anthony and Lou Ella Witt.) Both Judith Hayes and her husband are buried in the Concord Cemetery in Morris County, Texas.
      6. James Houston Hayes (11 December 1827 – 15 June 1915) In his diary, he recorded his own marriage to Cynthia Ann Cooper on 7 October 1847. Their children are listed in the diary as Lydia Ann, Georgia E., and Tennessee B. Hayes. They are in the 1850 census living next door to his father, with the eldest child Lydia (age 2) in the household. By 1860, Georgia (11 months) was in the household. James Houston Hayes and his wife are both buried in the Hayes Cemetery. He is said by descendants to have bought land in Snow Hill next to John Henderson and built a house on the site in 1855. Although he sold that house within a few years, it was still standing a couple decades ago, and I have a modern photo of it. James was said to have been stricken by “arthritis” in his early 20s and walked only with crutches or canes. He owned a grocery store in Snow Hill, and bought a blacksmith shop from Silas Osborn in Snow Hill in 1869.23
      7. Elizabeth Hayes (8 June 1830 – c1859) James Houston Hayes’ diary records the marriage of his sister Elizabeth to William Witt on 20 September 1845. (See WITT pages).

        Note: There is some confusion about who the next two daughters married. Per Breck Witt’s letter, one apparently married a Henderson and one a Box, but descendants of the Hayes and Box families disagree on which was which. Traylor Russell (Vol. I, p26) also states that one of the Hayes daughters married John Box.

      8. Candice Hayes (8 December 1832 – ?) She was still in her father’s household in 1850, age 18. Whether she married John Box or a Henderson is in doubt. Michael W. Henderson, the younger brother of John Henderson, did have a wife named Candice. I could not find either John Box or Michael Henderson in the 1860 census. According to Vineta Witt Ketner, she married John Chisolm Box, who was enumerated next to Solomon Hayes in the household of James F. Box in the 1850 Titus County census. He sold land in Hunt County in 1852 and, as John C. Box of Hunt County, was deeded land by his father in Titus County in 1853. There is a John Box in Hunt County (with wife Nancy) in the 1860 census.24  Perhaps the same John Box married again in Hunt County on 17 April 1867, suggesting that his first wife may have died. [I note, however, that Breck Witt’s letter suggests the possibility that she may have been the “Candice A.” who was the wife of M. W. Henderson.]
      9. Nancy Hayes (2 January 1835 – 22 March 1899) “Nancy” is in Solomon Hayes’ 1850 household, age 16. What became of her is unclear. Vineta Witt Ketner read a stone in the Hayes Cemetery for Mary Hayes (2 January 1835 – 22 March 1899) “wife of T. G. Frizell”. Vineta thought that Nancy and that Mary must have been the same person. However, T. G. Frizell arrived from Alabama about 1870, and his wife Mary was born there according to the 1880 census, and doesn’t seem to have been a Hayes. Nancy may have been the daughter who married John C. Box, whose wife ws indeed named Nancy.
      10. Milly Ann Hayes (c1839 – 1920) She is in her parents’ household in 1850, age 11. By the 1860 census she had married John Henderson as his second wife, his first wife being Elizabeth, a daughter of James Francis Box.25  Census records indicate they had children named Humphrey C. (c1860), Monroe M. (c 1863), C. Franklin (c1865), James W. (c1867), Laura T. (c1871), Ida L. (c1874), and J. R. Lee (c1878). John Henderson was the first postmaster of Buchanan (later Snow Hill) in 1857. Milly and her husband are both buried in the Snow Hill Cemetery. [Their children, according to Traylor Russell, were: Umphrey, Ciscero, Walter, Lee, Monroe, Ida, and Tennie. Traylor Russell’s information is attributed, in part to Monroe Henderson, son of John Henderson and Milly Ann Hayes.]

A Possible Relative

There was one other woman in Titus County who may have been related in some way. There is a stone in the Hayes Cemetery for “L. L. Walker, wife of G. W. Walker”. She was apparently “Laura Louise”, born 1827 in Tennessee and died 1915, and appears in several old photos with Judy Hayes Butler and Milly Ann Hayes Henderson. She and G. W. Walker were living next door to the Hendersons in 1860, with “Louise” being age 32. Coincidentally, there is a marriage record in McMinn County for a “Miss L. L. Hayes” to James Prince on 21 November 184426 but there is no sign of them in 1850.   One wonders if Prince died and she remarried to Walker.

Solomon Hayes Price

Solomon Hayes Price (1839 – 1921), born in Bradley County, Tennessee, was a well-known Titus County preacher. He lived on land belonging to his uncle John Massey, according to Russell’s History of Titus County. His death certificate gives his parents as John Wesley Price and [Mary] Hays. He is buried in the Hayes Cemetery. He named a daughter “Emily Hayes Price” – a stone in the Hayes Cemetery shows she died at the age of 2. The 1850 census of Titus County shows John W. Price, age 43, and wife Mary, age 42 (born NC), with several children, one of them “Hayes” Price, age 10. All the children were born in Tennessee except that last two, ages 3 and 1. Clearly, Solomon Hayes Price’s mother was a Mary Hayes, but it is unclear who this Mary Hayes was. James Houston Hayes wrote that his sister Mary was born in 1815, young enough to have been the mother of the Price children, but too young to have been enumerated as age 42 in 1850. At least one Hayes researcher, Vineta Witt Ketner, believed that Mary Hayes was a younger sister of Solomon Hays.



  1. A transcription of the genealogically significant diary entries was provided to me by Vineta Witt Ketner, who produced it sometime in the 1960s. []
  2. Granville County Marriage Bond #2802. []
  3. Muster Rolls of the Soldiers of the War of 1812 Detached from the Militia of North Carolina in 1812 and 1814, Maurice S. Toler. []
  4. The 1820 Granville census is arranged alphabetically by district. There are only 64 households in the Tabb’s Creek district, including Samuel and Solomon Hayes and William Hester. []
  5. Granville County Deed Book 2, p360. []
  6. 1829-1831 it was Billingsley’s District.  In 1832 the same district was called FDodson’s District. []
  7. McMinn County Deed Book A, page 361-2. []
  8. Granville County Deed Book 12, p255. []
  9. Granville County Deed Book 12, p257. []
  10. Granville County Deed Book 12, p277. []
  11. History of Titus County, Texas, Vol. II, Traylor Russell, p58. []
  12. Morris County Historical Survey Committee Bulletin No. 48. []
  13. Copy courtesy of Joann van Boven, from Morris County Historical Survey Committee Bulletin No. 48. The minutes include a list of names following the “Abstract of Principles” which is dated in 1844. This list was apparently a record of the disposition of church members. It seems not to be in chronological order, though all the entries had to have been between 1844 and 1852. The first name on the list is J. W. Cherry “dead”, whom we know to have died on 27 May 1847 (he is buried in the Concord Cemetery.) The last several names on the list are the letters of dismission written in February 1852 when the church was disbanded. The names between do not appear to have been strictly chronological. The first names we are interested in are William Hayes “dis” and Margaret Hayes “dead”. William Hayes was still the clerk in 1852 when the church was disbanded, but his wife Margaret was dead by 1850. Then appears Judy Butler “dis”. Following her name is “Reuben Stephenson dead”, whom we know to have died prior to the 1850 census. Then appears Polly Henderson “dis”, Elizabeth Hays “dead”, Milly Hayes “dis”. A few names later is “Elizabeth Cochran dead”. There is no Elizabeth Cochran (that I can find) in the 1850 census. []
  14. I have five original deeds of William Witt’s, which were apparently re-recorded in Morris County, in which the land then lay, after the Titus County courthouse burned. One of these deeds describes the town of Snow Hill as lying on a 14-acre parcel of Henderson’s. []
  15. See also Russell, Vol. II, pp51. []
  16. Letter dated 3 November 1947 when Breck Witt was about 90 years old. A copy provided to me by my grandmother Passie Witt Taylor in 1977. []
  17. Marriage Records of McMinn County, Tennessee 1820-1870, Reba Bayless Boyer, p129. []
  18. Boyer, p130. []
  19. orris County Historical Survey Committee Bulletin No. 48 says “In August 1850, William Hays gave three (3) acres of land of the Solomon Hays survey (J. F. Box Headright) to the church at Bethlehem.” This source goes on to explain that the members of the church transferred to Spring Hill in 1852-3, and was dissolved. Another church was established on the same site in 1866 and was known as Bethel Baptist Church. []
  20. Boyer, p129. []
  21. Russell, Vol. II, p53. []
  22. History of Titus County, Texas, Vol. I, Traylor Russell (1965), p53. []
  23. Russell, Vol. II, p52. Information supplied to Russell by a grandson of William Hayes. []
  24. There is a John Box in 1860 Hopkins County, where two other of the Box brothers lived at the time, but he is not the same person. []
  25. “The John Henderson Family in Titus County”, History of Titus County, Texas, Vol. I, Traylor Russell (1965), p26-27. Also mentioned in Vol. II, p51. []
  26. McMinn County Marriage Book “C”, page 113. []