Robert Hays – Founder of Haysville, Ontario

In memory of Robert Hays, Esq., J.P. – Founder of Haysville, Ontario

Robert Hays“This gentleman died at his residence, in McKillop, in the County of Huron, Canada, on the 18th inst., aged 80 years. He had been a long time in an infirm state and his death was not an unlooked for event. His funeral took place on Sunday the 19th, and the procession was fully 3/4 of a mile in length, the largest ever seen in McKillop. He was inteered in the Harphurhey burying ground. He leaves five sons and two daughters and his aged partner in life, behind him. One of his sons, as is well known, is the ex-Registrar for North Huron, and also an ex-M.P.P., and by profession a lawyer. As the deceased gentleman was a man of some note, a more lenghtened notice seems to be demanded. He was born near Londonderry, Ireland, somewhere about the year 1794, and when a boy, went to the Parish School of Comwell, where he received a fair education. When about 24 years of age he married, and his father dying about this time, divided his farm between his two sons, hence the subject of this memoir went to farming, and married about the same time. He continued in this occupation for about five years, during which time he was strongly impressed with the injustice of the tithe system and the oppressive taxation which burdened the people. He told an old friend that while working one day in the field, he began to think that surely there was a freer and better country somewhere, where a poor man would not be kept down by oppressive taxation. His resolution was taken. He threw down the spade with which he was working, sold his far, and never wrought another day in his native country.

Before leaving Ireland, he went six months to the Grammar School of Letterkenny. He then went to the United States, leaving his wife and family in the meantime in Ireland, until he would make a home for them on this side of the Atlantic. He went to the States and engaged in the milling business with his wife’s uncle, General (George) McLure, who fought in the war of 1812. Here he remained for a few years after which he went to Rochester and engaged in milling again for three or four years. On the whole, his milling operations were not successful, for though an active, industrious, honest, painstaking man, he did not nearly receive the pay which he was promised for his labor. This at first disheartened him. At this time he sent for his wife and family, having resolved to make America his future home. He next came to Canada and bought a farm near Ingersol, and united with it the business of tanning. After four years residence in Ingersoll he removed to the village now known as Haysville; the place having been named after him. Here he bought 200 ares of land, and built a mill and made the village. Here he remained for about 8 years, being somewhat discouraged at times by his mill dam being carried awway. He sold out in Haysville and bought 200 acres of land in McKilop, where he spent the remainder of his days. He has been, we believe, about 30 years a resident of McKillop, and during about 25 of that time he has been a magistrate, and one of the clearest headed and best we have ever had, and of him it can be said what can be said of but few, that though his decisions were frequently appealed from no appeal was ever sustained. He sat in the County Council as Reeve for quite a number of years, when we believe McKillop, Hullett, Morris, Grey and Howick were in one municipality, and old settlers maintain that the business of the country as fully as well transacted then as it as ever been since. He was always a staunch advocate of Common School Education, and was the first, we understand, to advocate the taxation of property for that purpose. His ideas became law, and a certain amount was rated on the propety, and since then the principle has been gradually extended until the Free School system has become universal. While in the County Council he advocated the taxing of the wild lands of the Canada Company, which also became law; but for this he was looked upon with enmity by that powerful Corporation. He was always a friend of Temperance, and no man, from his earliest days until his death, ever saw him the worse of liquor. As a public speaker, he was too nervous and excitable to succed well when he was opposed by calm, cool heads; but when unopposed and uninterrupted he could express his ideas in good plain language and reason well. In politics he was a rather extreme Reformer, up to the time his son ran for member. At this time he was very much annoyed at his old neighbors voting against his son, and fromt that time he never acted with the Reform Party. In religion, he was a Prespyterian. He was always a firm believer in the grand truths of Christianity. Reverence for the Bible, the Sabbath day, and a detestation of profanity were strong features of his character. Several years ago he had an apoplectic attack which impaired is intellect, and for a time he lost the power of speech. He knew that his intellectual powers were failing, and resigned his office as Treasurer of the Township, and his commission as J.P., recommending at the same time several younger and more active men, who were appointed by his advice. From this time he was preparing for death, as he knew that the sands of life were almost run. We believe he died the death of a true Christian, and of him it might be said – “Mark the perfect and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.”

Obituary newspaper unknown.


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