John Coffee Hays
John Coffee Hays (January 28, 1817 – April 21, 1883) was a captain in the Texas Rangers and a military officer of the Republic of Texas. Serving in a number of armed conflicts from 1836 to 1848, he gained a reputation as a true leader of the Rangers.
Two of the conflicts he encountered was the fight with the Comanche tribe and his role as a military officer during the Mexican-American War.
John “Jack” Hays migrated from his home in Tennessee to Texas in 1836, at the young age of 19. Sam Houston persuaded just about every young man to become a Texas Ranger, as there were conflicts with the Comanche Indians at the time.
Due to Jack’s leadership abilities, he led a group of Rangers on a campaign against the Comanche Tribe. During this time period a number of Indian tribes were waging war against each other and so it was no surprise when Jack joined with the Apache Chief named Flacco. Together, and with a group of Rangers, they led the charge against the Comanche tribe. The duo of Flacco and Jack inspired the Rangers.
In 1840, the Rangers tracked down a large Comanche war party culminating at the Battle of Plum Creek. The Rangers were successful in this battle.
When Mexico invaded Texas, Hays commanded a force of Rangers. The Mexican-American War lasted between 1846 through 1848. The most talked about engagement was the Battle of Monterrey. The Rangers assembled six companies to face the Mexicans. Hays commanded the First Regiment and this group was able to defend the northern and western frontier of Texas. He was later given command of the Second Regiment of Rangers in Winfield Scott’s Mexico City campaign.
Hays was the first to use the Navy Colt Patterson five-shot revolver. Hays was so impressed with the revolver that later he met with Samuel Colt and urged Colt to design the legendary Colt Walker six shot revolver used in the Old West.
On April 29, 1847, Hays married Susan Calvert in Seguin, Texas, where they had a home.
By this time the Comanches had made peace with Texas and upon the birth of Hays’ first son, chief Buffalo Hump sent the Hays family a gift. The gift was a golden spoon engraved “Buffalo Hump Jr.”
In 1849, Hays was appointed by the U.S. government as the U.S. Indian agent for the Gila River county in New Mexico and Arizona.
Hays would later join the migration to California leading, a party of Forty-Niners from New York. Settling in Oakland, he amassed a considerable fortune through real estate and ranching enterprises.
Upon the beginning of the Civil War, Hays did not respond and would not be involved in fighting for either side.
Jack died in California on April 21, 1883, and his remains were interred at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland.
Hays County, Texas, was named to honor this pioneer who fought for Texas.