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  Lucy Hayes

by John T. Marck

First Lady: 1877 to 1881

Wife of President Rutherford B. Hayes

Born: August 28, 1831 Died: June 25, 1889

Lucy Webb was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, the daughter of Dr. James and Maria Cook Webb. Her father was from Lexington, Kentucky and her mother from Connecticut. When Lucy was two years old, her father died of cholera on a trip to Lexington to free some slaves he had inherited. Her mother, with Lucy and her two brothers, searched for a place to settle where the schooling was the best. On this search, Lucy met Rutherford Hayes in Delaware. However, they did not stay in Delaware, but settled in Cincinnati. Three years later, Hayes rediscovered Lucy, and fell in love. They were married a year and one half later, on December 30, 1852, in the home of Lucy's mother in Cincinnati. For almost twenty years, Lucy was occupied and concerned mostly with her eight children. Three were born before the Civil War; two were born and died during the war, and three after the war, as well as one more baby who died shortly after birth.

Rutherford Hayes served during the Civil War, lastly as a Commander of a Brigade. After he was badly wounded at the Battle of South Mountain, Lucy searched many hospitals for him, finally locating him in a private house near Frederick, Maryland, and nursed him back to health. At the end of the war, Hayes was elected to Congress. Lucy believed this to be a turning point for him as she knew he loved politics. Upon his election to the Presidency, Lucy, as mistress of the White House, held informal receptions, where guests were free to stroll around the rooms and grounds, have dinner, and return home early.

Lucy adapted her own way of life to the White House, in a manner few others brought there. They would have simple prayers at breakfast, and would sing hymns each Sunday evening. Rutherford and Lucy retired to a home they inherited called Spiegel Grove, in Fremont, Ohio. In retirement, Lucy was busy working and lending her name as former First Lady to many charities.

On June 28, 1889, Lucy suffered a stroke and died.

Copyright 1990-2022 by John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author. From The First Ladies of the Unites States by John T. Marck.