Friday, December 27, 2013

Hinkle Cain Hays (1890-1957)

From the Terre Haute Star, November 29, 1957.

    For many years a leading light in Sullivan County, Indiana law circles, Hinkle Cain Hays was an attorney for nearly forty years and later found additional distinction when he served as part of the Indiana delegation to the 1936 Republican National Convention. Being endowed with an odd first name like "Hinkle" is guaranteed to elicit a laugh from anyone, and the story behind his unusual name is interesting to say the least!
   Born and raised in Sullivan County, Hinkle Cain Hays was born on November 12, 1890, the son of John Tennyson (1845-1919) and Mary Cain Hays. The younger brother of the more famous Will Harrison Hays (1879-1954), a former U.S. Postmaster General and the man behind the Motion Picture Production Code (popularly known as the "Hays Code"), Hinkle Hays' peculiar first name is given passing mention in his brother's memoirs (published in 1955), which notes that he was bestowed his first name in honor of local physician James Reid Hinkle (1832-1914), and further relates that "My parents had such affection for the good doctor that they named my younger brother after him--Hinkle Cain Hays." Hays' middle name "Cain" stemmed from it being his mother's maiden name.
   Being born into a distinguished Sullivan County family (his father John Tennyson Hays was a past Prosecuting Attorney, farmer and bank director), Hinkle C. Hays attended Sullivan County public schools and was a graduate of the Sullivan County High School. He was later enrolled at Wabash University and during his time here was viewed as one of the school's outstanding young orators, being a member of the Inter-Collegiate Debate team and the Student Debate Council. Hays was awarded first place in the Baldwin Oratorical Contest held during the 1911-12 school year, and also took part in the varsity debate proceedings on May 12, 1912, when Wabash University defeated Indiana University.


From the 1912 Wabash College Yearbook.

Hinkle Hays (pictured left) on the Wabash debate team, from the 1912 Wabash Yearbook.

   Following his graduation from Wabash in 1912 Hays began the study of law under his father. After being admitted to the Indiana bar he joined his father's firm, which his brother Will Hays had joined some years previously. 1912 proved to be an important year in Hays' life, and following his graduation and law study married to Ms. Lucile Benefield (1891-1975). The couple would later become the parents of two sons, John Tennyson Hays (1913-1983) and Charles Edward (1916-1970).
  The 1920s and 30s saw Hinkle Hays practicing law in Sullivan County whilst also being active in other aspects of civic affairs, being a member of the Sullivan County School Board as well as the Sullivan Public Library Board. In 1925 Hays' native county of Sullivan was beset by tragedy when on the morning of February 20th a spark ignited an explosion which claimed the lives of 51 miners at the City Coal Mine at Sullivan City. The outpouring of grief was immediate, and in the weeks following the disaster Hinkle Hays played a prominent role in aiding the families of those lost in the tragedy. Hays' 1957 Terre Haute Star obituary notes that he 
"Directed the effort which successfully raised over $100,000 for the relief of families deprived of livelihood in the City Mine disaster in February of that year."
    A decade following his fundraising efforts for the families of the City Mine disaster, Hinkle Hays served as part of the Indiana delegation to the 1936 Republican National Convention held in Cleveland that nominated Kansas Governor Alf Landon for the Presidency. After completing his service as a delegate Hays returned to Indiana, and was appointed as a member of the Indiana Flood Control and Water Resources Commission during the first administration of Governor Henry F. Schricker (whose term extended from 1941-1945). Hays was later reappointed to this commission by Schricker's successor, Henry Fesler Gates, and served during his gubernatorial administration, (1945-49). 
    In addition to law and politics, sources of the time denote Hays as a prominent fixture in the social scene in Sullivan County, belonging to a number of civic organizations and clubs. He maintained a life membership in the Sullivan Elks Lodge and Murat Temple Shrine of Indianapolis, as well as being a member of the Sullivan County, Indiana State and American Bar Associations. A religious man, Hays was for nearly all his life connected with the First Presbyterian Church of Sullivan, serving as a trustee and ruling elder late in his life. His connection to church work wasn't just limited to his native county however, with the Terre Haute Star noting that he was member of various church extension committees as well as the Historical Society of the Presbyterian Church of the United States. Hays also remained connect to his alma mater, the Wabash College, serving as the president of its National Association of Wabash Men alumni group from 1937-38.
   Hinkle C. Hays died at the Hays family home in Sullivan a few weeks after his 67th birthday on November 29th 1957. His brother Will had preceded him in death three years previously and both were interred at the Center Ridge Cemetery in Sullivan. Hinkle Hays was survived by his wife Lucile, who died in 1975 at age 81. Both she and her two sons were interred at Center Ridge following their deaths.


A portion of Hays' obituary from the Terre Haute Star, November 29, 1957.

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