For charts, indexes and information on Rutherford and Lucy Webb Hayes' ancestors and descendants see our genealogy website:
One of Rutherford Hayes’ favorite pastimes was researching and learning about his ancestors and the history of their towns and states. It is because of this interest that the Hayes Presidential Library & Museums has a large library of genealogy and local history books and materials.
“I have an attack of genealogical mania. It came on about ten days ago, superinduced by reading a family tree which a friend sent me. It is in a violent form but I trust it will soon abate. I have got up into the Cooke tree and am lost. Can you help me out?"
Rutherford B. Hayes to “Uncle Scott,” Cooke, March 4, 1870
Rutherford B. Hayes' Thoughts on Genealogy
Diary Entry, March 6, 1870 -
"I have always thought of myself as Scotch, but of the fathers of my family who came to America about thirty were English and two only, Hayes and Rutherford, were of Scotch descent. This, on my father's side. On my mother's side, the whole thirty-two were probably all of other peoples beside the Scotch.
Again, I have been proud of my descent (not very of course, only a trifle so,) from the famous Rutherfords; but it is plain that the brains, energy, and character possessed by my grandfather's children and grandchildren-- by the children and grandchildren of Rutherford Hayes--are mainly derived from our plain ancestor, whom [who] Uncle Sardis says was the homeliest woman he ever saw (!), Grandmother Chloe Smith.
I have been digging into Savage and other books on genealogy during the last week. I trace my lineage up almost to the Mayflower but not yet into it. I have only run back on the line of my father's side of the house, and the important family of the Smiths is left out!! Almost one-half of the stock! To be exact, it leaves out exactly one-fourth of the stock, as I find nearly one-half of the Smiths.
Now, the new idea I get by this study is, how futile it is to trace one's descent from a distinguished name in the past. Two hundred and thirty or forty years ago my ancestors were from thirty to a hundred different persons. The Hayes or the Rutherford of 1625 was only one out of forty or more who are equally my ancestors. What does it signify that John Russell was able and pious in 1640? I am but one part in forty to sixty of his blood. We attach more importance to the deeds of ancestors of our own names. But this is a mere figment of the imagination. I am just as much a Trowbridge, referring now to the Thomas Trowbridge who founded the family in New Haven in 1640, as any of those now living there who bear his name. The blood, the physical, mental, or moral qualities which distinguished an early "father," do not follow the name; do not accompany it."
Governor Rutherford B. Hayes on a Genealogy Road Trip to Connecticut:
From his diary:
"July 21, 1871. Friday. - After a tolerable night's rest got up in time to learn before breakfast that no horse and buggy could be had for love or money. The next best thing was to go on back to Willimantic at 8 A.M.
I rode three and a half miles on the outside of the hack with an intelligent, communicative driver, who gave me full and accurate information about the villages, roads, trains, and people of the two towns of Windham and Mansfield. In ten minutes after we reached Willimantic I was in a good buggy on the road to Mansfield Centre, well posted as to the old graveyards and town clerks, present and past, of the old town. About 10 A. M. I reached an old graveyard in excellent condition near the center of the town of Mansfield. Going into it, I found many stones whose inscriptions were not legible from age, and others as old as 1750. The curious thing was the number of stones of all ages with the name of Barrows. That name seemed to be on one- fourth of the monuments. No Birchard was in the old graveyard. The village of Mansfield Centre was a fine old place, remarkable for its large maple trees. Many were three feet,perhaps almost four feet, in diameter, and with their aged rough bark resembled white oaks in looks and size.
As I approached the village I was told that the town clerk was Bradley M. Sears, and that he lived near the Baptist Church about two miles beyond on the road to Mansfield Depot. I had written to Sears on family history and received a very civil reply, so I felt at home. When I drew near the church I saw a large number of men hard at work haying. . . I asked if Mr. Sears was there. A young, fine-looking, athletic man replied, "That is my name." I told him my name was Hayes and that I was from Ohio. He replied, "Oh yes, Governor Hayes, I presume. I am glad to see you here." He immediately said,
"I will go with you." We went back to Sears' house. The town records were in perfect order, and went back to the first settlement of the town. There were a number of vellum-covered volumes of different sizes going back to perhaps A. D. 1700. I found the following interesting items relating to the Birchard family…
After finishing the examination of the records, Mr. Sears and I rode down to Mansfield station four and a half miles. There I rechecked my trunk to New London. We returned to Mr. Sears' via Eaglesville. We had a substantial lunch, after which I bid good-bye to Sears and drove to Willimantic about six miles, via Perkinsville or Pudding Lane. Mr. Sears directed me to Mr. Martin's, where I was to learn the route to Samuel Perkins, who would know all that anybody knew about the old Birchard homestead.
I found Mr. Perkins living in a small white house near a considerable tract of pretty good bottom-land. He was raking hay with a horse-rake. His daughter, a barefoot child of perhaps ten years old, was riding the horse. As soon as I made known my business, he said, "Yes, yes, you have come to the right place. There," pointing to a wooded elevation about a quarter of a mile distant, "is 'Birchard Hill.' It is always called so, and the Birchard house stood near the foot of that hill. I never expected to see a Birchard here. They are gone this eighty or a hundred years. I am only fifty-two, but I have heard the old people talk. There is a song about the hill which the school children sing." Here the little girl broke in, "I can sing it," and she sang:-
"We come, we come from Federal Street,
We come, we come from Perkinsville
With nimble feet over Birchard Hill,
From up on distant Mansfield Road,
We come from many a bright abode
From many a pleasant home."
Mr. Perkins told me I could easily find the place where the house once stood by the cellar. As I left he urged me to stay with him; to stop when I came again that way. I easily recognized the little old cellar, grown up with bushes. I borrowed an axe of a poor woman living where the Perkinsville Road entered a large road leading to Willimantic, two miles distant, and cut a couple of sticks from the cellar. The place is not now attractive. The neighborhood is full of Perkinses, good people.
I rode to Willimantic, took the cars for New London, and about 9 P. M. was safely in a stateroom on the beautiful steamer Cityof Boston, bound for New York City."