Hayes Home | Bradford County, Florida | built c. late 1800s
Each time I visit this home, my imagination spins about what it might’ve looked like and what life was like here. And while it might look rustic by today’s standards, this home is impressive in its own right, once you account for the years and years of harsh Florida weather that this rustic home has endured.
How many hurricanes? How many thunderstorms? How many lightning strikes has this home lived through?
The Hayes Family in South Carolina
Enos Wilson Hayes and his wife Elizabeth Ann Rogers would marry in Marion County, SC in 1848, and to them, 7 children were born before Elizabeth passed away in 1863. Each of their sons and daughters would stay in South Carolina, except for Nathan Gamewell (sometimes spelled Gainwell) ‘N.G.’ Hayes who would marry Hannah D. Barry in 1875 near her home in Lacrosse, FL.
The Hayes Family in Florida
Soon after they wed, her father, William F. Barry gave them land near his homeplace in Bradford County, FL where they spent the next years building this house. Hannah and N.G. had 8 children, at least 4 of whom were born in this very building. They grew cotton and raised cattle here, along with other crops like watermelon, soybeans, and tobacco.
Nathan Gamewell Hayes II worked in his early years as a flagman for the railroad in nearby Worthington Springs until he took to farming full-time on the farm his parents had built. He lived here with his wife, Ruby Bethea Hayes, until 1973 when he passed away. The home hasn’t been lived in since.
Today, the home is still owned by Hayes Family relatives who care dearly for the old homeplace, although they’ve decided that the house is too far gone to be repaired. Instead, descendants have been offered pieces of the home that are salvageable to be used for another generation. One family member turned some of the doors into dining room tables, ensuring that some parts of this home will continue to live on after she finally falls.
The Hayes Family contacted me in February 2022 to let me know that the house had been lost to fire in January of 2022. A family member was working to clear the land and accidentally lost control of a burn pile and the fire quickly consumed the house. The family is sad about the loss of the old home but over the years, parts of it had been repurposed so I hope that their memories of it and its pictures here can help to ensure she isn’t lost forever.