COVER: Texas Ranger Jack C. Hays, shown circa 1857 in a portrait attributed to Matthew C. Brady. PHOTO VIA LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
FROM SUBMITTED REPORTS
The Hays County Commissioners Court and Hays County Historical Commission on Tuesday celebrated the upcoming bicentennial birthday of the county’s namesake, Col. John Coffee Hays.
“We’re honored to be named after one of the most famous Texas Rangers and a pioneer in law enforcement on the Texas frontier,” Hays County Historical Commission Chair Kate Johnson said, noting countless hours commission members have devoted to documenting his life.
The commission’s resulting in a chapter in the Hays County history book as well as the first historical documentary produced by the commission.
Born in Tennessee on January 28, 1817, Hays made his way to Texas where he joined a Ranger company and fought under Thomas Rusk and Erastus “Deaf” Smith for Texas independence from Mexico in 1836.
In 1840, he was appointed a ranger captain and engaged in battles and skirmishes with hostile Indian tribes as well as Mexican troops. Hays and his Rangers were involved in important actions at Plum Creek, Salado, Enchanted Rock and the “Woll Invasion” of 1842, among others.
Hays was among the first to use the 1844 Navy Colt Paterson five-shot revolver, making suggestions for improvements to it that led to the Colt revolver becoming one of the guns that helped win the West.
State Sen. Edward Burleson introduced legislation that on March 1, 1848, created the county named in Hay’s honor from part of Travis County.
Hays left Texas in 1849 and became the first sheriff of San Francisco, Calif. and later the first U.S. surveyor general for California. He also founded the city of Oakland.
Hays died on April 21, 1883, the 47th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto. He is interred in the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland.
Johnson told county commissioners that the historical commission has applied for a marker recognizing Hays for placement on the Old Hays County Courthouse grounds in downtown San Marcos.