October Ancestry Challenge – Hays Rodgers

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 The October Ancestry Challenge 2013

23 posts – 23 days – 23 ancestors.

 Ancestor #18 – Hays Rodgers



Rodgers Hays SrHays 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.

MS Cemetery 076On 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.

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Saturday Snippet – Complete with Music and Indians

Saturdays are the days I usually post snippets of one of my books, but today is slightly different. As many of you know, when I’m not writing historical fiction books, I’m playing music – the whole “professional musician by night, indie author by day” thing. That being said, I tend to get caught up in the music of the time of whatever book I’m writing. My latest work takes place in 1812, the setting is the Mississippi Territory, known today as Clarke County, Alabama, and a few of the characters are Mvskoke (Muskogee Creek Indian.) Because of this, I’ve been listening to traditional Creek music for the last few months, and this particular song has stuck in my head. It feels more like an ancient chant than a song, and I can’t stop playing it. It is “Heleluyvn.”

elly cover_webHere’s an excerpt from “Elly Hays” coming Nov 4 to all online retailers. Elly is my 5th great grandmother, and the book is the third in the Okatibbee Creek series.


The laborers had erected a small makeshift platform in the middle of the meadow. It rose two feet off the ground so Tecumseh could be seen above the massive gathering of people. Rumors had circulated for months that he would come, as it had been foretold by a bright comet in the nighttime sky in March of 1811, and the gathering crowd numbered into the hundreds, perhaps closer to a thousand, representing over a dozen of the twenty Mvskoke clans.

As the people waited for him to take the platform, they grew increasingly impatient. They had been assembling for days to hear him speak, so not only were they weary from their travels, but the scorching sun was not improving their disposition. The air was as stagnant as the wait, with not even the slightest of breezes to offer relief from the stifling heat. The afternoon sun melting into evening had made them agitated, and they grumbled and occasionally began chanting for the great warrior to appear and address them. When he did not take the platform after a few minutes, the chanting quieted to a dull objection, only to start up again within a short amount of time.

Over the last few months, reports had surfaced that the Americans would once again declare war against the British. Before and since the revolution, the British had befriended the Indians, asking for their help in warding off the Americans’ expansion. Since the Indians considered the land theirs in the first place, they were pleased to oblige. The Indians had never asked for a favor in return, but the waves of white settlers were growing, continually trespassing upon their tribal land. They needed help, they needed answers, they needed to stop the encroachment. They eagerly awaited Tecumseh’s speech and they were anxious to hear a plan. They wanted to know what he wanted of them. If the reports of an impending war were true, perhaps this was the time to join forces with the British and defeat the white man once and for all.

Finally, a group of elders dressed in vibrant tribal robes with headdresses embellished with porcupine fur and hawk feathers stepped up onto the platform. The cheer began small and grew to a fevered pitch as it spread across the field of warriors like a breeze washing over wheat. The elders greeted the crowd and led them in singing their tribal anthem, “Heleluyvn,” following which the crowd erupted again in anticipation of the great warrior’s arrival.

Elly Hays is available at Amazon