Sunday, February 15, 2015

Mouse Island and the Hayes Family

View of Mouse Island by Platt Studios
Charles E. Frohman Collection

Cabins ca. 1912

There is something romantic in that idea of having an island all to one’s self. Ex-President Hayes felt it years ago when his children were young, for he bought a mile or so off the [Catawba] Peninsula, a small island ” …. so wrote Henry Howe in his history of Ohio. Howe further described the island as "a very small affair, so small one might someday take a fancy to pick it up, slip it in his vest pocket as he would his watch and walk off with it.”

In 1874, then Governor Hayes purchased Lake Erie’s Mouse Island jointly with Fremont attorney Ralph Buckland and Dr. L. Q. Rawson. The private island, sometimes called Hat Island in early records, was acquired from Ira Dutcher of Catawba.

Hayes believed it would be a great spot for his family to camp, boat, swim, and especially fish (Lucy’s favorite past time). When Hayes returned to Ohio during his presidency, the family spent time on the island. In 1879, Hayes purchased Dr. Rawson’s portion of the island. And at the turn of the century, the Bucklands exchanged their portion of Mouse for land Hayes and the Bucklands owned jointly in Omaha, Nebraska.

Through the years, Hayes had numerous opportunities to sell the island, but his children and their friends continued to enjoy time spent each summer on the heavily wooded island. President Hayes’ son Birchard and his children Webb, Scott, and Walter, built two cabins, a boat house, dock, ice house, tennis court, and a hand ferry to shore. They also supplied the island with water.

The brothers worked each summer to repair damage brought on by the previous winter’s storms. But time and weather continued to take a toll on the island’s structures. With Scott’s move to Los Angeles and Admiral Webb Hayes away much of the time, there were fewer opportunities for the Hayes grandchildren to visit the island. Even though time spent at Mouse became rare, it was not until 1966 that they finally decided it was time to part with the “emerald isle” the family had enjoyed for more than 90 years!  

Native Stone Chimney 1912

Fireplace 1912

Titled "Hayes Construction Company"
Birchard Hayes and Sons Scott and Walter
on their Newly Built Dock

Dalton Hayes and Elizabeth Boarding Their Boat the "Owl"

Mr and Mrs. Birchard Hayes at the Cabin

The Dock 


Dorene from Ohio said...

So much fun to learn some history of Mouse Island!

Lee Hisey, Realtor, Howard Hanna, RSPS, Epro, AWHD, Certified Relocation Specialist said...

Great info. Thanks for that wonderful bit of history!

S.Ellis, MyGreenBuildings said...

My Mother and her Family spent a summer on the island around 1937 and she wrote a story about it in detail. She passed away this June and we found it among her memoirs. THey stayed with descendants of President Hayes. Mr. Hayes was a friend and Partner of my grandfathers insurance company in Toledo Ohio. They enjoyed the tennis court and had a constant flow of guest that summer that they brought over in a small boat with outboard from the mainland.