The Hays Family of Breathitt County is one of the first groups of white people to ever settle in this section of Eastern Kentucky. Family tradition has it that William Hays •• (2nd known generation), and his family from Rockbridge County, Virginia came to Eastern Kentucky in the year 1791. They settled on Holly Creek in that part of Madison County, Kentucky which later became Breathitt County (1839) and today is located in eastern Wolfe County.
A few years later, about 1795, William moved with his family to the Snowden Branch area of Breathitt County near the mouth of Quicksand Creek. (The old Hays Cemetery on top of Snowden Branch Hill has hundreds of graves. Most have only field stones for tombstones. It is almost certain that William and most of his family are buried beneath the ground here. Many of the readable stones are marked with names of Hayses of long ago.)
William was the Grandson of old John Hays ••(1st known generation) of Virginia who served in the Virginia Militia during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). John was married to Jane Wood, the daughter of Lysander and Elias Wood of North Carolina.
William had a son, John ••(3rd known generation), named for his grandfather. John was born in Virginia in 1773 and died in 1839 in that part of Breathitt County that was then part of Estill County. (A John Hays is listed as a town trustee for Jackson when it was established in 1839.) He was twenty years old when he came to this area of Kentucky (Breathitt Co.). John married twice. His first wife was Nancy Wood of North Carolina. (Nancy died in 1840. Her tombstone may still be seen in the Hays Cemetery on top of Snowden Branch Hill, today called Howell Heights on the old Quicksand Road.) They, too, lived near the present-day community of Quicksand. Children from his first marriage included: (1) Adrian Hays, born in 1808 and later about 1855 moved to Missouri. He married Elizabeth Cockrell, daughter of John Cockrell and the second time to Millie Alley; (2) William Hays, born in 1812 and married Delila Robinson. William's old tomb stone marked Wm. CV Hase, died 1855 may still be seen atop Snowden Branch Hill in the old Hays Cemetery.; (3) Sarah or Sally Hays, born in 1815, married Wiley McQuinn; (4) Nicholas Hays, born in 1814, married Mary Allen, daughter of William Allen. Nicholas Hays owned the present site of Quicksand community when in 1839 it was first chosen to be the site of the soon to be established county seat of Jackson. However, because he did not have a clear deed to the land, the site for Jackson was moved three miles down stream to the present location. Had plans gone accordingly, Jackson would have been built on Hays land at Quicksand. (5) Phillip Hays, born in 1818, married twice. First to Nancy Stacy and secondly to Susan Miller, daughter of Georgia and Sidney Miller.
On January 8, 1820 John, at the age of 47, married for the second time. He wedded Ursula Haddix, born during 1801 in Russell County, Virginia and died in Breathitt County in 1882. Their wedding took place on January 8, 1820 in that part of Breathitt County that was then a part of Clay County. She was a daughter of Henley Haddix and Jane Tate. (Ursula's uncle John Haddix was the father of Nancy Haddix who married Joseph Little. Their daughter Prudence Little married John C. Hays, her distant cousin, he being Ursula's grandson.) John Haddix and Henley Haddix were the sons of old Samuel Haddix (1742-1816) of Prince William County, Virginia. Many think Samuel led the first permanent settlers into present-day Breathitt County in 1792.
The children of John and Ursula were: (1) Jane Hays, born in 1821, married Joshua Barnett, Jr.; (2) Sarah Hays (1822-1870), married John E. Wells of Clark County, Kentucky; (3) Nancy Hays (1823-1882), married David Barnett, a brother of Joshua Barnett, Jr.; (4) William Hays ••(4th known generation), born in 1825, married Polly Miller, daughter of Benjamin and Nancy (Holcomb) Miller. William is our direct decent, being the grandfather of Clarence Hays. (5) Adrian Hays, born in 1833 and died in Arkansas in 1863. Adrian married Delilah Fugate, daughter of Henley Fugate and Tabby McIntosh. (6) John Butter Hays (1833-1906), married twice, first to Sarah/Sally Miller, daughter of Ben & Nancy Miller, and second to Catherine McIntosh.
Thus, if records are correct, John had eleven children in all. Today his descendants number in the thousands and are scattered across the United States. Very few Hayses remain in Breathitt County.
William, the son of John, and his wife Polly Miller had nine children: (1) Elizabeth Hays born in 1851; (2) John Charles Hays ••(5th known generation), born in 1852, married Prudence Little; (3) Sarah Ellen Hays, born in 1855, married John C.B. Hays, son of Nick Hays; (4) George Martin Hays born in 1857 married Jane McPherson; (5) Nancy Hays, born in 1859, married Breckenridge Flinchum; (6) Henley Hays, born in 1862, no data available on him; (7) Anna Hays was born in 1868. She married John B. Flinchum, brother of Breckenridge and son of John J. Flinchum; (8) William Hays was born in 1869, no data available on him; and (9) Amanda Hays, born in 1870, no data available on her.
On August 29, 1876 John C. Hays, age 24, married Prudence Little, age 18, at the residence of Andrew Hays near the old homeplace on the Five Mile Road. Standing up for young John were Henry Gabbard and James Little. The couple was married by Rev. M.C. Taylor of the Methodist Church.