On July 3-4, 1985, our town of Hayes Center and the people who dreamed, worked, and built it from its christening in January 1885 to the present, were honored during a two-day centennial celebration. A special pageant written and portrayed by Hayes County people, a parade of over one hundred entrants, free buffalo barbecue, trail drive, and a time capsule to be opened in 50 years, were all evidence of the love and pride of Hayes Center descendants.
1867 found General Custer and his Seventh Cavalry heading south to fight the Indians, resulting in a military trail crossing Hayes County near Frenchman River east of what is now Palisade. In 1880 the famous Texas cattle trail crossed the west part of Hayes County to Ogallala. Located centrally between trails, a town emerged named "Hayes Centre." Both Hayes County, created by the state legislature in 1877, and the town were named for President Rutherford B. Hayes.
The first seat of government was held in a private home rented for $10.00 a month. Offices moved from time to time until the first courthouse was erected. It burned in 1891 and a larger courthouse was built in 1906. The first Hayes County High School Senior class graduated here. A modern building built in 1954 ably serves our people today.
The first weekly newspaper was published the day before Hayes Centre was elected as county seat. Two newspapers were in competition during the 1880s and 90s, however the "Times Republican" persevered and celebrated its centennial publication in 1985. At one time, local businessmen purchased the business to ensure its continued publication.
1890 found 27 business places, two doctors, four lawyers, three carpenters, a school, and many handsome residences. The town of Hayes Center, one of the few towns to survive as an "inland town" with no railroad -- or hope of getting one -- was off to a good start!
One hundred two years later, Hayes Center is still a thriving town with a population of 266. Although small in size, the town is structurally sound with pride evident in its new and well kept buildings, beautiful homes and yards, its First National Bank which has never closed its doors, and young people remaining or returning to manage businesses, farm, teach, etc.
Hayes Center businessmen have kept faith and weathered many battles that include: the great drought of 1894 that caused many pioneers to move on, grasshopper plagues, prairie and business fires, the Depression and drought of the Dirty 30's, loss of good men in the wars, as well as the current economic stress of the 1980s.
Searching for guidance from God has benefited Hayes Center people. 1885 diaries tell of holding Sunday school in private homes. Today, five denominations have active churches in Hayes Center!
From one public windmill in the middle of main street in 1885, our town has progressed to a modern water and sewerage system. While in the early days horses carried supplies in, trucks now travel an all-weather highway connecting the town to interstates 70 and 80 and the local highways.
A consolidated county K-12 school system located in Hayes Center is well supported as local people enjoy the school activities and sports.
The 4-H fair grounds, league ball games, rodeo arena, sand green golf course, and a well stocked library all offer enjoyable social activities. The lack of a doctor is overcome by a well staffed volunteer fire department with EMT rescue squad and ambulance. A four-unit low income housing is an added plus for the elderly.
For the past eight years, many local farm families have received 100-year continuous operation awards. The rich farm lands surrounding Hayes Center continue to be the primary source of income. A new feed lot north of town and expanding oil drilling promise a boost to the economy. Currently, 20 or more businesses serve the community.
Throughout the years the people of Hayes Center have been there to support each other in times of need and happiness. May God lead them on in faith!
By Lillian Fielding, Hayes Center, NE 69032.
Typist, Jeanne Bishop. Photos compliments of: Alice Lindekugel, Terry Wortman, Geraldine and Fauneil Glee, Maggie Dawes, Ellen Fielding, George and Carl Kittle, Lila Hoback Johnson, Hazel Liston, Charlotte Johnson, Mildred Doak, Mickey Mintling, Iris Nelms, Van Korell, Florence Counce, Sheryl May, Cheryl Scott, and Lillian Fielding. Reprinting by Lana Lapp and Mrs. Ivo Pennington.
Hayes county heritage book - 100 years of progress 1877-1977
"Hayes Atlas," by Doover, 1980 by Western Cartographers
"Times Republican" articles from 1885-1987