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HAYES, WILLIAM ROBERT (1835–1910). William Robert Hayes, soldier, rancher, and county judge, was born on December 30, 1835, in Hickory County, Missouri, the son of Joseph and Lavina (Young) Hayes. His mother died in 1842, and the family left Missouri in 1846, bound for Texas, but sojourned in Sevier County, Arkansas, until 1854, when Joseph Hayes moved to Medina County. William had left from Fort Smith, Arkansas, earlier that year, to work his way to the California gold fields on a wagon train. The party wintered at Salt Lake City and then entered southern California in the spring of 1855. There Hayes mined until December 1858, when he prospected for a time on the Fraser River in British Columbia. In January 1859 he followed his father to San Antonio, Texas, by way of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico, and New Orleans.

In April 1859 Hayes purchased land in Bee County and set himself up as a farmer and stock raiser. In 1861 he married Amanda Fuller; the couple had eight children. In 1862 Hayes enlisted as a private in Company F of Col. Alfred Marmaduke Hobby's Eighth Texas Infantry. He saw duty in Texas and in the Red River campaign and rose to the rank of sergeant. Close to the end of the Civil War he transferred at Galveston to Col. Charles L. Pyron's Second Texas Cavalry and took part in the defense of Corpus Christi.

Hayes was appointed treasurer of Bee County in 1870 and was elected to several successive terms until April 1876, when he was elected county judge. He served on the bench for eight terms-a total of 18½ years-until November 1892. During this time he was also ex officio superintendent of Bee County schools and served for six years as a county commissioner. With J. W. Flournoy he negotiated the extension of the Aransas Pass Railroad into Beeville. He was also the first treasurer of the Texas County Judges' Association. In 1872 he purchased a ranch near Skidmore, where he died on May 22, 1910. Hayes was a member of the Church of Christ. John Henry Brown described him as "six feet in height and straight as an arrow," with fair skin and blue eyes.

John Henry Brown, Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas (Austin: Daniell, 1880; reprod., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). Lewis E. Daniell, Personnel of the Texas State Government, with Sketches of Representative Men of Texas (Austin: City Printing, 1887; 3d ed., San Antonio: Maverick, 1892). Lewis E. Daniell, Types of Successful Men in Texas (Austin: Von Boeckmann, 1890). A Twentieth Century History of Southwest Texas (2 vols., Chicago: Lewis, 1907).
Thomas W. Cutrer

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Thomas W. Cutrer, "Hayes, William Robert," accessed November 18, 2017,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.