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March 20, 2007 > William Hayward - City Namesake

William Hayward - City Namesake

The names of our communities come from somewhere - either the name of a first explorer to the area, a derivative of an older Spanish or Mexican name, or from one of the early settlers. The City of Hayward meets the latter description with an interesting twist.

William Dutton Hayward was born in 1815 in Hopkington, Massachusetts, a small town southeast of Boston. He lived on his father's farm until adulthood when he moved to Georgetown to work in a shoe factory. In 1838, he married Lois Bartlett who died in 1840 leaving Hayward to raise a daughter, Sarah Louise.
News of the discovery of gold in California reached around the world in 1849. Like hundreds of others, William decided to head west to seek his fortune in the gold fields. In early 1849 he left Sarah Louise in the care of family members and departed on the steam ship Unicorn. Six months later, after rounding Cape Horn, William arrived in San Francisco. Gathering his supplies, he headed to the gold fields. Two years later, he decided to return to the San Francisco Bay area and chose a route that led him into the Amador Valley through the Livermore Pass and close to the mouth of Palomares Canyon. He pitched his tent here.
In a later interview, William said, "I thought if I could get a little land in this paradise, I would be satisfied." This just so happened to be on the land belonging to Guillermo Castro. Two of Castro's vaqueros reported a squatter to Castro, who rode out to investigate. Hayward did not happen to be there at the time, so Castro left a note inviting Hayward to visit him at his home. Hayward obliged and this led to the sale of some 40 acres of Castro's land near to his homestead in present day downtown Hayward on the northwest corner of the present A and Main.
Hayward pitched a large tent here to serve as a general store and saloon until he could get a building built. In 1852, Hayward started work on a two story hotel and tavern which did so well that he expanded it in 1856. The 1856 addition included a separate meeting house building that became a center for community meetings. Stagecoach service from Oakland to San Jose would stop at the hotel to change horses and passengers would disembark to stretch their legs and grab a drink or two or a meal at the tavern. There was another expansion in 1866 and by 1891 the hotel had grown to 100 rooms. Along with the buildings from the Castro Rancho, the town began to grow as a resort community. There were soon several other hotels, including the Oakes Hotel and the Central Hotel, that would serve visitors to the community. The weather in the Hayward area was so much better in the summer that it was a desired location to spend some time as compared to foggy San Francisco.
As a part of his hotel operation, William Hayward petitioned the U.S. Postal Service to establish a post office in his hotel lobby to service the local area. On January 6, 1860 the post office was established as Haywood, California. There are two theories about this name difference. One is that Mr. Hayward's handwriting was so bad that there was a clerical error made when the application was processed. The other, and more plausible story, is that the U.S. Postal Service had a rule about naming post offices after living persons. Since Hayward was very much alive, it was decided to call it Haywood instead. Mr. Hayward was named the first postmaster. When the town was incorporated by the State Legislature in 1876 as Haywards, the removal of the apostrophe before the "s" circumvented the name problem. It remained Haywards until 1911 when the "s" was dropped. Hayward remained the postmaster until 1889.
In his personal life, William met Rachel Rhodes Bedford, a widow with a daughter, living in the community and after a short courtship married her in 1866. At that time, Hayward's daughter came from Massachusetts to live with them. In 1867, William and Rachel had a son, their only child, William M Hayward, known as "Willie." Willie died in 1893 and Sarah Louise died in 1909 without marrying or having children so there are no direct descendants of William Hayward. After their marriage, Rachel played a major role in the operations of the hotel greatly adding to its success.
Hayward worked closely with Castro, Atherton, and C.T. Ward to develop plans for the Town of Hayward. He would often use his own funds to achieve the goal of developing some of the first roads in the area.
Some of his other community involvement included serving as the first Roadmaster for Eden Township and as a County Supervisor in 1856 and 1869. After the disbanding of the Hayward Home Guard, a unit established during the Civil War, he served on a committee to use leftover funds to purchase land for a cemetery. This would become Lone Tree Cemetery. Hayward served as an original Trustee from 1873 - 1891.
Hayward died on July 9, 1891 as a result of skin cancer at Hayward's Hotel. His illness had been a long and painful ordeal and he was treated regularly with morphine to manage the pain. He was 76 years old. His funeral was held at the Congregational Church (now Eden UCC); The International Order of Odd Fellows and the Hayward Volunteer Fire Department, both organizations that he had helped found, were integral in the service. The procession from the church up Cemetery Road (now D Street) to Lone Tree Cemetery was 2 miles long. All business closed that afternoon and flags flew at half staff in his honor. He was buried in a grave that overlooked the town that he helped to build.
In his obituary there is a great quote from a eulogy from Rev. Dr. MacKenzie that is aptly prophetic: "Our friend was not only the founder of our town, but one of the pioneers of this state. We not only feel an interest in him today, but a hundred years hence there will be a greater interest in knowing just the spot where he pitched his tent and how he spelled his name. His name is historic, his life is historic; they belong to the history of this State."

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