The History of Henry County, Illinois, by Henry L. Kiner, 1910

Historyf Henry County, IL, Henry L. Kiner, 1910

p. 623-625


Francis Marion Hay, Page 1
Although he has passed the seventy-fifth milestone on life's journey Francis Marion Hay still retains active supervision of his agricultural interests. He owns a fine farm of three hundred and eighty acres on sections 1 and 12, Annawan township, on which he lives, and also a tract of one hundred and thirty-three acres on section 4, and his methods of cultivation are so thorough and his business is conducted with such good judgment that he is numbered among the more prosperous farmers of Henry county. Nor is his reputation confined by county lines, but he is widely known through the state, not only for the excellence of his dairy products, but also for the exemplary character of his life. He was born in Saluda township, Jefferson county, Indiana, January 22, 1833, a son of Thomas and Sarah (Maiden) Hay. The former was born on a farm in the vicinity of Edinburgh, Scotland, October 26, 1800 [actually vicinity of Kelso, November 26, 1800], and was a lad of eleven when his parents joined a company of about a hundred who emigrated to America. They landed at New York, whence they went to Philadelphia, then to Pittsburg, where they secured a flat boat and floated down the river to Hanover, Indiana. There they disembarked and William Hay, the grandfather of F. M. Hay, secured a tract of land from the government, which remained his home during the rest of his life. He died at the advanced age of eighty-six years.

Francis Marion Hay, Page 2
Thomas Hay, the father of F. M. Hay, grew to manhood upon the homestead in Jefferson county, Indiana, and there was married to Miss Sarah Maiden. In 1854 he came to Annawan on a visit, and despite the fact that it was the year of the great snow storm he was so favorably impressed with the country that in 1855 he returned, bringing his family with him, and bought some land on section 13, Annawan township. Thereon he lived the rest of his life, save for two years he spent in the village of Annawan, and his active years were busily occupied with agricultural pursuits, wherefrom he derived a gratifying success.

Francis Marion Hay lived in the township of his birth until he reached maturity, obtaining such an education as the district schools of his locality afforded at that time. As a boy he learned the use of tools and before he became twenty had become skillful at carpentering, so that he was able to secure bridge work on the Jeffersonville and Indianapolis Railroad and which is now part of the Big Four. In 1854 he came by rail to Henry county, while his father drove a few horses overland, intending to sell them after he arrived, and here again engaged in carpentering. A couple of years later he turned his attention to farming, for he had traded some raw land he had entered from the government to Benton county Iowa, for forty acres in Annawan township, Henry county. That tract was the nucleus about which later accretions were made until the home farm comprised two hundred and ten acres, for a large measure of success attended Mr. Hay's labors and as he saw opportunity he put his money in that safest of all investment, real estate. He engaged in general farming, but at one time he was extensively engaged in dairying, frequently milking fifty cows daily. He had only Jersey cattle in his herd, and the butter he made was justly celebrated for its quality, receiving the gold prize at the union dairy fair held at Milwaukee. Now this business is not carried on on as extensive a scale, although the excellence of the dairy products is still maintained.

On Thanksgiving day, November 26, 1868, in Annawan township, Mr. Hay was married to Miss Hannah A. Tower, a native of New York. Her parents, Samuel Nelson and Hannah (Lewis) Tower, left the east in 1852, and coming west located in McHenry county, Illinois, where Mr. Tower engaged in farming and taught music. Later he became superintendent of the Washingtonian House, in Chicago, but in 1865 came to Henry county, where he again followed agricultural pursuits and taught music. His daughter, Mrs. Hay, inherited some of his talent along musical lines and enjoyed special training in the art.

Francis Marion Hay, Page 3
Mr. and Mrs. Hay have three children. Mark, who was born September 28, 1869, after leaving the country schools, took a short course in Bryant & Stratton Business College, Chicago, and then studied architecture at the University of Illinois. For a time he was employed by the board of education of Chicago, but after the earthquake in San Francisco, California, believing that there were larger opportunities there, he removed to that city, where he is still engaged in his profession as architect. He has not married. Louis M., who was born January 16, 1872, received a good education, and is now the owner of eighty acres on section 1, this township, where he is carrying on farming. Cranston Roy was born August 16, 1874, and died, unmarried, December 13, 1907.

Mr. Hay was reared a democrat, but was converted to republicanism even before he was able to vote and when he cast his first ballot it was for John C. Fremont, who was that party's candidate in 1856. Now, however, he holds himself independent of party ties, for he takes a keen interest in political questions and after investigation gives his support to the cause he believes to be right. It was in conformance with his ideas of citizenship that he accepted the positions of road commissioner and school director, which he filled so acceptably, for while he does not seek office, he believes it the duty of capable men to give some of their time for the benefit of their fellow citizens. He has passed the Psalmist's allotted span of three score and ten, and his life record is honorable and may well cause one to pause and consider and then emulate, for the success which the years have chronicled has been won through noble endeavor, not through taking advantage of the misfortunes of others. Indeed Mr. Hay says, and he may well be proud of the fact, that he has never been a party to any fight, nor has he ever witnessed one. Quietly and unobtrusively he has done his duty and the day's work, and the wordly prosperity which has been vouchsafed to him and the sincere esteem of his feloows, is merited in a high degree.

View of Annawan
Picture of Annawan (assume circa 1900-1910)