Thursday, April 24, 2014

How My Father Got His Name

Thad S. Hays


Proud father with first daughter


My father was born 110 years ago today—or maybe yesterday. He was born at home. It was late at night. Nobody was looking at the clock. Those on the scene decided to call it the 24th.   There was no birth certificate—no need for one at the time. It only became a problem some time in the 60's when he needed a birth certificate to apply for a passport. He had to find a couple of witnesses to attest to the fact that he was born when and where he said he was.

Had my father had a birth certificate in 1904, it would have shown that he was named Charles Carrol Hays—after his grandfather. (Yes, the Civil War grandfather of the captured flag story.)  My grandmother Hannah wanted her son to have his father's name: Thaddeus Stevens Hays. But my grandfather was having none of it.  Having suffered with that name throughout his life, he was adamant.  He would not saddle his son with such a name.  But a few months later he died suddenly, and his widow renamed their son with the name she'd wanted in the first place.  She was reported to have said that she missed having a Thad around the house. And so it was that my father became Thaddeus Stevens Hays.

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