Lucy Webb Hayes
1831 - 1889
Lucy Webb Hayes, wife of Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th president of the United States, died June 25, 1889. She was 57.
Mrs. Hayes was born Lucy Webb on August 28, 1831 in Chillicothe, Ohio. Her father died when she was two. The family moved to Delaware, Ohio where her brothers attended Ohio Wesleyan University. Lucy herself went to Wesleyan Female College in Cincinnati where she graduated in 1849, becoming a well-educated woman, an unusual distinction for a female in the 19th century.
A young attorney, Rutherford (Rud) B. Hayes began a courtship with Lucy, who was nine years younger. They married in 1852 and had eight children, five of whom reached adulthood.
The next nine years were rather uneventful as the Hayes family lived a quiet life in Ohio, but the advent of the Civil War brought big changes to their lifestyle.
Mr. Hayes joined the Union army, rising to the rank of brevet major general of volunteers. Lucy pitched into the war effort with as much gusto as her husband. She became known affectionately as Mother Lucy to the troops of the 23rd Ohio Infantry. She spent two years nursing wounded soldiers back to health.
When her husband was elected a U.S. Congressman in 1865, Mrs. Hayes didn’t sit idly by. She worked diligently in various humanitarian and religious causes. She worked as a volunteer in state charities and helped to establish the Ohio Soldier and Sailor Orphan Home.
Mrs. Hayes became First Lady of Ohio in 1868 when her husband was elected Governor. She accompanied him on many of his official functions to state reform schools, prisons and mental institutions.
In 1876, her husband was the Republican candidate for president. In one of the closest elections in history, it appeared Hayes had won a one vote electoral victory over Samuel J. Tilden. The election was contested and was not officially certified in Hayes favor until early 1877.
During her years in the White House, Mrs. Hayes did not allow the serving of alcoholic beverages. She received the nickname of Lemonade Lucy for her temperance activities. A popular First Lady, the Hayes’ celebrated their silver wedding anniversary in the White House in 1877.
Her husband had announced that he would only serve one term as president. In 1881 they retired to their home of Spiegel Grove in Fremont, Ohio. Lucy Hayes died there on June 25, 1889. Her husband died in 1893.