H is for Hays
I write a lot about my Rodgers ancestors, but playing just as an important role in the fact that I am sitting here are my Hays ancestors.
My fifth great grandma was Elizabeth “Elly” Hays. She was born just before the start of the Revolutionary War either in Tennessee or North Carolina to Samuel Hays and Elizabeth Pricilla Brawford. Records say North Carolina, but her father was born and died in Davison County, Tennessee, so NC seems strange. Her little brother, Charles, was also born in NC, so it is possible the family lived there for a while. And her paternal grandfather died in NC, so the family definitely had a connection there. I haven’t researched her thoroughly (yet), but it looks like she was the only girl with at least four brothers.
Elly was sixteen when she married James Rodgers in Tennessee on 20 Dec 1790. She birthed twelve children. In 1811, the family packed up and moved to the eastern Mississippi Territory – a place called Alabama, which wouldn’t become a state for a few more years. You know how difficult it is going on a road trip with little kids in the car? Imagine being on a wagon for days with a dozen of the little rug rats and not a McDonalds in sight.
This was a time in history when the U. S. was flexing its political muscle and tensions were escalating, leading up to the War of 1812. And little did the Rodgers family know, they were moving into Creek territory. Not only were the Creek Indians fighting the U.S. Government, they had also broken into two sanctions and were fighting amongst themselves. The Rodgers family moved into the middle of a rat’s nest. They were harassed for years by the marauding Indians, taunting them and stealing their livestock, and the final straw, burning down their home.
In 1815, her two eldest sons, Hays (named after momma’s family) and Absolom, joined the Mississippi Militia to help fight off the hostile Creek Indians, and following the boy’s discharges in 1818, the family moved west to Lauderdale County, Mississippi.
Her husband died in Mississippi eight years later, and she moved back to Clarke County, Alabama and probably lived with her daughter Elizabeth. She died in Alabama in 1839 at the age of 65.
Elizabeth Hays Rodgers is the heroine of my coming book “Elly Hays” which is the third book in the Okatibbee Creek Series. It will be released Winter 2013.