Albert H. Hayes

Too many of the old homesteads of New Hampshire have gone to decay. Deserted and dilapidated buildings, decrepit fences, and unharvested crops of briers and weeds, where but a generation ago there were the homes of comfort, industry, and thrift, tell a sad story of what our state has done to supply the brain and brawn which have developed the resources of others. But now and then there is a farm which has not only been preserved, and made to retain its old-time attractions, but improved, beautified, and adorned, by liberal outlays dictated by good judgment and cultured taste, until it has become the envy of all who admire elegant buildings, fertile fields, and fine flocks and herds. Many of these are the property of men who grew up rugged, strong, and self-reliant among our hills, went out in early manhood in quest of greater opportunities than could be found or created at home, and, having won fortunes abroad, have loyally brought them back to the town of their nativity to rescue old firesides from irreverent ownership, to erect upon old sites modern mansions, to coax from an unwilling soil great crops, to furnish people with employment and courage, and to return in a hundred ways substantial thanks for the privilege of having been born in New Hampshire. Of this class is the Hayes farm in Alton, now owned by Dr. Albert H. Hayes, who has brought back, from the golden sands of the Pacific, the ample means which enable him to add to the natural attractions of his lakeside birthplace all that money can command in the creation and embellishment of a country home.

David Hayes, who was a sturdy farmer of Scotch descent and a native of Strafford, purchased and settled upon a farm in Alton about the year 1790. He had three sons and three daughters, and in time the oldest son, Joseph, succeeded him as the holder of the title to the farm. This son married Betsey Brewster, a daughter of George Brewster, of Wolfeborough, by whom he had eight children, of whom six still survive. The seventh was born September 6, 1836, and named Albert Hamilton. His parents were well to do and appreciated the value of an education, so that, as he grew up, while he did his share of the work on the farm, he had the advantage of the winter schools, and was afterwards sent to the academies at New Hampton and Northfield. At the age of twenty-one he had completed his studies at these institutions, and concluded that it was easier to buy farm produce than to raise it, and that a place containing more people and more money would suit him better than Alton, and, going to Boston, commenced the study of medicine with Dr. Abner Ham, of that city. Subsequently, he attended lectures at Columbia College in the District of Columbia, and graduated at a Pennsylvania university. Meantime he had served as a hospital surgeon in the army for two years, and in 1870, having acquired the necessary funds, made a prolonged European tour.

On returning to America, Dr. Hayes extended his travels through this country, and in 1874, with an eye to business and pleasure, went to California. Here he soon became acquainted with John W. Mackey, the Bonanza king, and other prominent financiers on the coast, and as a result formed a partnership with J. M. Walker, a former partner of Mackey, under the firm name of Hayes & Walker. As a member of this firm, and as an associate with Mackey, Mr. Hayes, during the next three years, did an extensive banking and brokerage business, handling a vast amount of money, and reaping handsome profits, which enabled him, a little later, to buy largely of the stock of the Bonanza mines, which were then pouring a steady stream of wealth into the laps of their owners. Becoming convinced that this would not continue, and that other mining properties were more desirable, he sold out his interest, and after a long investigation bought outright the Red-Hill gravel mines, in Trinity county, California. This purchase, which includes eleven hundred acres of land, in which are located seven mines, and extensive water rights, upon which in that country the value of a gold mine largely depends, makes Mr. Hayes the sole owner of by far the largest and most valuable mining property held by a single individual in the state of California, and establishes his place among the few who have been able to seize and hold the glittering prize for which so many have striven since the western slope began to yield its treasures.

While thus seeking his fortune elsewhere, Mr. Hayes has retained his residence in Alton and his lively interest in all that concerns the town and state. The homestead upon which he was born is his, and he makes it his home during the summer. He has expended a large amount in improving it, a barn costing fifteen thousand dollars being among the latest additions. When the house, which he has planned to match it, is erected, the establishment will be one of the finest in the state.

In 1876, 1877, and 1878, Dr. Hayes represented Alton in the legislature.

He married, in 1877, Jessie B. Benjamin, daughter of E. M. Benjamin, Esq., of San Francisco, a relative of Judah P. Benjamin, of Louisiana, and a lady of rare literary attainments and social accomplishments. Their only child—Lloyd Benjamin Hayes—was born May 21, 1880.

With so much success behind him, Mr. Hayes is still a young man, as cheery and active and energetic as when he first left New Hampshire. He has an extensive knowledge of the world, a wide circle of acquaintances among those who shape the politics and business of the country, and hosts of friends who have been won by his unfailing good nature, liberality, and courtesy. He is pledged, when he has done making money, to come back to New Hampshire and spend it.