John Coffee Hays

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John Coffee Hays
John Coffee Hays
  • "Jack"
  • "Bravo-Too-Much"
Born (1817-01-27)January 27, 1817
Wilson County, Tennessee
Died April 21, 1883(1883-04-21) (aged 66)
Piedmont, California
Place of burial Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland
Service/branch Texas Ranger Division
Years of service joined Rangers in 1836
Commands held 1st Mounted Texas Rifles
Washoe Regiment
Other work Sheriff, politician

Col. John Coffee "Jack" Hays (January 28, 1817 – April 21, 1883) was a captain in the Texas Rangers and a military officer of the Republic of Texas. Hays served in several armed conflicts from 1836–1848, including against the Comanche people in Texas and during the Mexican-American War.


Jack Hays was born at Little Cedar Lick, Wilson County, Tennessee. Rachel Jackson, wife of Andrew Jackson, was his great-aunt of the Donelson family. His grandfather fought in the revolutionary war. Grandfather Robert travelled on a Flotilla expedition with the founding families down the Cumberland river to the area of Nashville, Tennessee. His father Harmon Hays fought in the War of 1812, named his son for long-time family friend and Jackson protégé Colonel John Coffee.[1] Jack's brother was Confederate General Harry T. Hays of New Orleans. His sister, Sarah Hays Hammond, was the mother of John Hays Hammond.[2] John Hays Hammond, Jr. was an apprentice to Thomas Edison and worked with Nikola Tesla. John Hays Hammond Jr, board of directors for RCA.

In 1836, at the age of 19, Hays migrated to the Republic of Texas. Sam Houston appointed him as a member of a company of Texas Rangers because he knew the Hays family from Tennessee. Jack met with Sam Houston and delivered a letter of recommendation from his uncle Andrew Jackson.

In the following years, Hays led the Rangers on a campaign against the Comanche in Texas, and succeeded in weakening their power. Jack rode with an Apache Chief named Flacco who led the charge into every battle with him. The duo led and inspired the Rangers. In 1840 Tonkawa Chief Placido and 13 scouts joined with the Rangers to track down a large Comanche war party,[3] culminating at the Battle of Plum Creek.[4] Later, Hays commanded the force against the invasion from Mexico of 1842. During the Mexican–American War (1846–1848), Hays commanded the First Regiment of Texas Rangers at the Battle of Monterrey, established six companies along the northern and western frontier of Texas, and commanded the Second Regiment of Texas Rangers in Winfield Scott's Mexico City campaign.[5] The Rangers excelled during this conflict, gaining nationwide fame.

Marriage and family[edit]

On April 29, 1847, in the Magnolia Hotel, Hays married Susan Calvert, a descendant of George Calvert, First Baron Baltimore, in Seguin, Texas, where he had his home.[6][7] His wife was also a descendant of the Benjamin Harrisons of Virginia and related to George and Martha Washington.

The Comanche had great admiration for Hays. Upon news of the birth of Hays' first son in California, Chief Buffalo Hump sent the Hays family a gift, a golden spoon engraved "Buffalo Hump Jr."

When John Hays Jr. married Anna McMullin in San Francisco, two Texas Ranger legacies were combined. Her father, Captain John McMullin, was one of Jack Hays' closest friends; he had followed him to California. In 1850 McMullin was elected the first Sheriff of Sacramento.

Post-war years[edit]

Texas Rangers Captain John Coffee Hays.jpg

In 1849 Hays was appointed by the United States government as the US Indian agent for the Gila River country in New Mexico and Arizona.

The next year the Hays joined the migration to California, leading a party of a party of Forty Niners from New York that traveled in wagons to California from Texas. This party pioneered a shortcut on Cooke's Wagon Road that saved a long journey to the south. That improved route became known as the Tucson Cutoff. Hays was elected sheriff of San Francisco County in 1850, and later became active in politics. In 1853, he was appointed US surveyor general for California.[8][9]

Hays was one of the founders of the city of Oakland. In the following years, he amassed a considerable fortune through real estate and ranching enterprises. In 1860, while in Virginia City, Nevada, on business, he heard the news of the First Battle of Pyramid Lake. He commanded a force of volunteer soldiers at the Second Battle of Pyramid Lake.

During the Civil War, Hayes retired from military involvement.

In 1876, Hays was elected as a delegate to the Democratic Party national convention, which nominated Samuel J. Tilden for the presidency of the United States.

Jack Hays died in California on April 21, 1883, and was interred in Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland.[10]

Legacy and honors[edit]

John C. Hays is the namesake of Hays County, Texas.[11]

Family direct descendants - John Coffee Hays > John Caperton Hays and Anna McMullen > Harry T Hays > William Hall Hays > John Westphal Hays > Douglas Westphal Hays > William Westphal Hays> Kelly Sahlin Hays. William Hall Hays Jr > Grant P Hays > Jack Morris Hays and Dylan Thomas Hays. All deceased family members placed in Mountain View Cemetery. Piedmont, California


  1. ^ "A Great Captain and a New Weapon" by Charles M. Robinson, III
  2. ^ "Unique". Time Magazine. May 10, 1926. ISSN 0040-781X. 
  3. ^ "Chief Placido", San Marcos Record, November 2007
  4. ^ "John Hays, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame, Texas Rangers Website
  5. ^ Ford, J.S., 1963, Rip Ford's Texas, Austin: University of Texas Press, ISBN 0292770340, p. 60
  6. ^ Weiss, Harold J., Jr. "Hays, John Coffee (1817–1883).". The Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved June 2, 2010. 
  7. ^ Weinert, Willie Mae (1976). An Authentic History of Guadalupe County. Seguin Conservation Society. 
  8. ^ Jack Hays
  9. ^ Texas Ranger Hays
  10. ^ John Coffee "Jack" Hays at Find a Grave
  11. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 153. 
  • Gwynne, S. C. Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History, New York: Scribner, 2010;
  • Robinson, Charles, The Men Who Wear the Star: The Story of the Texas Rangers, Modern Library, (2001). ISBN 0-375-75748-1.
  • Swift, Roy, Three Roads to Chihuahua: The Great Wagon Roads that Opened the Southwest, Eakin Press (1988). ISBN 0-89015-640-9.
  • Webb, Walter Prescott, The Texas Rangers: A Century of Frontier Justice, University of Texas Press, (1965, second ed.).
  • Wilkins, Frederick, The Legend Begins: The Texas Rangers, 1823–1845, State House Press, (1996). ISBN 1-880510-41-3.
  • Wilkins, Frederick, Defending the Borders: The Texas Rangers, 1848–1861, State House Press, (2001). ISBN 1-880510-41-3.
  • Wilkins, Frederick, The Law Comes to Texas: The Texas Rangers 1870–1901, State House Press, (1999). ISBN 1-880510-61-8.

External links[edit]