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 John Lord Hayes portrait before restoration /


John Lord Hayes was born in 1812 and grew up on Academy Street in what is today remembered as the Hayes House, residence of the headmaster of Berwick Academy. Hayes was a student in the 1820s when the academy was the area’s only secondary school, and his sister, Hetta Hayes, was one of the first girls ever admitted. Their father, Judge William Allen Hayes, was president of the trustees.

After studies at Dartmouth and Harvard Law School, the younger Hayes practiced law in Portsmouth and was appointed Clerk of the United States District Court in New Hampshire. A strong opponent of slavery, he became a leader in the Free Soil movement.

He became general manager of the Katahdin Iron Works Company of Maine. Later he was secretary of the Mexican, Rio Grande, and Pacific Railway Company, and in the 1850s helped organize the construction of a railroad across Mexico.

Moving to Washington, DC, Hayes rode in Lincoln's first inaugural parade. He became chief clerk in the United States Patent Office and the first president of the National Tariff Commission. Throughout his life Hayes authored several scholarly works, including a translation of Latin hymns from the early and middle ages published just before his death in 1887.

Art historians, including Tom Hardiman of the Portsmouth Athenaeum, have considered the possibility Hayes was painted by portraitist William Stoodley Gookin (1799-1873) of Dover, NH, and Saco, ME. Gookin had South Berwick ties and was related by marriage to Hayes’s sister. A known Gookin portrait is on display today at the Counting House Museum, and others at the Saco Museum.   – Wendy Pirisg, OBHS

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