23 posts – 23 days – 23 ancestors.
Ancestor #18 – Hays Rodgers
Hays Rodgers was my 4th great grandfather. He was married to Marey Ann Scott and had 14 children: Lewis, James, Allen, Jackson, Susannah, Stephen, William, Mary Ann (heroine of my book Okatibbee Creek and my 3rd great grandmother, ancestor #17), Timothy, Hays Jr, Wilson, John W, Elizabeth and Martha Jane. Geez, how can you even remember all those names. I call my two dogs by each other’s names.
His sons, Stephen and William, died in 1834 at the ages of 8 and 10. His son, James, died of typhoid in Nov of 1862. Between 1863 and 1864, his sons, Timothy, Wilson and John W, all died during the Civil War. Timothy and Wilson died of illness. John died of a gunshot wound to the stomach in Jonesboro, GA. Fortunately, Hays was not alive to witness the soldier’s deaths as he died of typhoid in Dec of 1862, a couple weeks after his son James.
He was born 1 Feb 1783 in Greene County, TN to James Rodgers and Elizabeth “Elly” Hays (heroine of my new book Elly Hays). He was the eldest son of 12 children. At the age of 18, he moved with his parents to Clarke Co, AL which was part of the Mississippi Territory at that time. Alabama didn’t become a state until 1819. He and his brother, Absolom, signed up for the Mississippi Militia in 1814, and were assigned to Capt Evan Austill’s company of volunteers in Maj Sam Dale’s Battalion to fight against the hostile Creek Indians. Hays remained in the Militia until Oct 1818, but was only called out once for a two-month tour.
On 11 Dec 1816, he married Marey Ann Scott, who was from Georgia. In 1818, following the end of his military service, he, Marey, and 1st born Lewis, moved to Copiah Co, MS (what later became Simpson, MS). He started buying land and farming. He built the “Ole Stennis House” in 1857 at the age of 61 (with the help of 13 slaves). In 1860, the U.S. Census states Hays owned 13 slaves, a 640 acre (square mile) plantation, 2 horses, 3 mules, 10 cows, 4 oxen, 16 sheep, 60 swine, and $600 in farming instruments, for a total worth of $8400. However, most of his wealth was tied up in slaves, as they were worth about $1000 each – that’s probably a million bucks in today’s money.
Upon his death in Dec 1862 in Lauderdale Co, MS, he owned 690 acres of land and stock in the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, which was sold and divided between his heirs. His wife died three months after him in March of 1863, also of typhoid.
His property was sold in 1869 at public auction on the steps of the Meridian Courthouse to Major Adam T Stennis, hence the name “Ole Stennis House.” It remained in the Stennis family for 100 years until 1970, then sat abandoned for two decades. It is now owned by the Hover family who have restored it as you can see by the photo above. Right before the property was auctioned in 1869, Hays Jr, who was the only son to return home from the war, albeit with a useless arm and a wilted spirit, sold his farm and moved to Alabama to be near his wife’s family. He sold his farm to a black man named Tom Stennis. Tom Stennis was a former slave to Major Adam T Stennis.