JOHN W. HAYS. General farming and stock-raising engages the attention of John W. Hays, who owns between five and six hundred acres of excellent land, located on sections 24, 26, and 35, North Otter township, part of which is under cultivation. He was born on the place where he now resides on the 27th of January, 1837, being a son of Eli and Nellie (Hurley) Hays, the father a native of Indiana and the mother of Germany. The father came to Macoupin county in the early ‘30s and preempted two hundred and forty acres of land, the papers issued by the government giving him title to the property now in the possession of the son John W. Mr. Hays engaged in the cultivation of this land until his demise in 1881. The mother passed away about ten years previously. To Mr. and Mrs. Hays were born ten children, namely: William, Willis, James, Aaron and Jane, all of whom are deceased; John W., our subject; and Nancy, Sarah and Mary, also deceased; and Elizabeth, the widow of the late Ely Jones, of Girard.
John W. Hays began his agricultural career at the age of eight years, when he was put to work plowing with a team of steers. In the acquirement of his education he attended the district schools of the vicinity at such times as his services were not required for the work about the farm. After becoming familiar with the common branches, he devoted his entire attention to farming. He had acquired extensive holdings prior to the death of his father, following which he purchased the interests of the other heirs in the homestead. In connection with the tilling of his extensive fields he raises and feeds many cattle and hogs. A man of practical ideas at the same time progressive in his methods he has met with excellent success and is now known as one of the affluent agriculturists of Macoupin county. He has practically lived retired for the past ten years, leaving it to his children to carry on the farm work.
On the 6th of December, 1856, John W. Hays was united in marriage to Miss Lucinda England, a daughter of Joseph and Mary (Hays) England. Mrs. Hays passed away on the 28th of December, 1892, and was laid to rest in Union cemetery in North Otter township. Mr. and Mrs. Hays were parents of twelve children: George and Samuel, both residents of Macoupin county; Edward, who is at home; Mary Ellen, the wife of Edward Coe; Osa Lee, who is deceased; Robert Owen, also a resident of Macoupin county; Cephas, living on the old home farm; and Cenie, also at home. The four eldest children died in infancy.
The religious faith of the family is manifested through their affiliation with the Methodist Episcopal church, in which the mother held membership. Politically Mr. Hays is a democrat; he always takes an active interest in community affairs and has held various township offices. In every sense of the word Mr. Hays is a self-made man, having acquired practically all he owns through his own personal endeavors. His life is but one more proof of the fact that success is not so much a matter of opportunity as it is the ability to recognize and adapt opportunity to individual needs.