When the Country's Founding Father is Your Founding Father- page 7 | History | Smithsonian
President William Howard Taft and his sons, Robert, right, and Charles Phelps. (Bettmann / Corbis)

When the Country's Founding Father is Your Founding Father

The descendants of American presidents are the athletic trainers, lawyers, salesmen and executives of everyday life

Stephen Hayes Potomac, Maryland

Stephen Hayes
(Courtesy of Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center)
Stephen Hayes, a great-great-grandson of Rutherford B. Hayes, was born in Washington, D.C., where he works as president and vice chairman of the executive search firm DHR International. But from age 5 to 15, he lived for part of each year in President Hayes’s former home at Spiegel Grove, a 25-acre estate in Fremont, Ohio.

Hayes, 58, has fond memories of playing with his three brothers in the 31-room, red-brick mansion, where the 19th president lived with his family from the end of his term in 1881 until his death in 1893. In the president’s bedroom, on the first floor, Hayes recalls there being a tall bed with a bed skirt. “My little brother and I would play hide-and-go-seek all the time, and we would go hide under that bed,” he says. Then, near the front door was a telephone installed by Alexander Graham Bell. “That was kind of fun,” says Hayes. (Rutherford B. Hayes was the first president to have a telephone in the White House.)

Today, the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center consists of the residence, which was deeded to the state of Ohio by Stephen’s father, Webb C. Hayes III, in the 1960s; the gravesite of the president and his wife, Lucy Webb Hayes; the presidential library; and the museum, all on the same property. Stephen Hayes is the president of the center’s board of trustees, a position that his uncle and his father held before him.

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