Edgar W. Hayes, a prominent member of the Macoupin County bar, a surviving hero of the Civil War, and a leading business citizen of Bunker Hill, was born in 1837 in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and is a son of David and Nancy (Colwell) Hayes.
The Hayes family was founded in 1729 in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, by Patrick Hayes, who came from the North of Ireland. His son David was born there and served as an officer in the Revolutionary War. Wilson Hayes, a son of David Hayes and grandfather of our subject, was also born in Pennsylvania where he reared his family. His son, David, the father of Edgar W., was born in Franklin County, where he died in 1877, aged 67 years, leaving a large estate. In his early political life he was a Whig and later became a Republican. Both he and his wife were members of the Presbyterian Church. His marriage to Nancy Colwell, a daughter of John and Nancy Colwell, allied him with an old and prominent Cumberland County family, whose ancestry and religious leanings were the same as his own. Our subject is the eldest of his parents' family, as follows: Edgar W.; Mrs. Martha Orr of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; John C., a retired farmer of Litchfield, Illinois; James Hamilton, who died in 1868 in Madison County; David D., a physician of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania; Robert A., who died in July, 1889, at that time being principal of a school; Elizabeth, who married Benjamin M. Need, a lawyer of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Joseph S., a farmer residing in the vicinity of Bunker Hill.
Edgar W. Hayes was reared on his father's farm and was given excellent educational advantages, including an academic course at Shippensburg and a classical course at Lafayette College, at Easton, where he was graduated in 1858. At the outbreak of the Civil War he was engaged in teaching school. In May, 1861, he enlisted for the service of his country, and was connected with Company A, 7th Pennsylvania Reserve, of which Colonel Harvey of Wilkes-Barre was the first colonel. It was his fortune to be associated with that branch of the army upon which fell much of the hard work and danger of the great struggle, and he participated in the battles of Yorktown, the Second Battle of Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam and Fredericksburg. His regiment was with General McClellan in the Peninsular campaign. An attack of typhoid fever closed his army career and he was discharged for disability, after a most arduous and faithful service of two and a half years.
After regaining his health, Mr. Hayes entered upon the reading of law with Caldwell & McClure, at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and in the fall of 1865 was admitted to the bar. After two years of practice in Missouri, he removed in 1867 to Bunker Hill, Macoupin County, where he has been identified with a number of business enterprises. He was one of the directors in the nail factory, which at one time was one of the important industries of the place, and was also a director of the cemetery association, and for a number of years was president of the School Board. He is a man of great public spirit and the town owes much to his activity in advancing its interests. In politics he is a Republican, which party would be glad to honor him with office, were it not in the minority.
In 1870 Mr. Hayes married Margaret F. Heck, daughter of Jacob and Margaret (Sturgeon) Heck, and they have had six children, of whom five survive: Edgar H., of Bunker Hill, who is being educated in the law school at Valparaiso, Indiana; Mrs. Margaret G. Grant of Staunton, Illinois, who has three children, - Charles, Margaret and Ralph H.; Mrs. Bertha Sanford, who has one child, Edgar Noble; Ralph H., who is clerking in Bunker Hill; and Joseph A., who is still in high school. Mr. Hayes and family belong to the Congregational Church.
Fraternally Mr. Hayes is a valued member of the Grand Army of the Republic, belonging to J. M. Hubbard Post, No. 721, of Bunker Hill. He is a man of acknowledged ability, with mind enlarged and broadened by travel. His vacations have been spent in various parts of the Union, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and one interesting trip took him to Panama, Central America. He is held in very high esteem in Bunker Hill and is considered one of the representative men of this progressive little city.