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John Hays collection

 Collection — Folder: S1820
Identifier: S1820

Scope and Contents

This collection includes photostatic copies of correspondence, treaty proceedings, and speeches related to the activities of Indian agent John Hays that were obtained by the Indiana State Library from the National Archives. The first two folders contain correspondence dated from September 15, 1819 to November 13, 1821 that covers the transfer of the Fort Wayne post from William Turner to Hays. Much of the correspondence is among Indiana agents Turner, Hays, John Johnston and B.F. (Benjamin Franklin) Stickney. Other correspondents include Lewis Cass, governor of the Michigan Territory and U.S. superintendent of Indian affairs at Detroit, Michigan; J.C. Calhoun, U.S. Secretary of War; and less frequently William Woodbridge, the acting governor for the Michigan Territory. Topics covered include available funds, rations issued to and payment of annuities to Miami and Eel River Indians, supplies for Indian children at McCoy's School and agricultural implements for the elders, and the investigation of whiskey peddling and mishaps. Contracts for building saw and grist mills and for the delivery of beef and bread are also included.

Folder three contains a copy of "Proceedings of the Treaty at Chicago," a 34-page record kept by Henry R. Schoolcraft and sent to Secretary of War Calhoun about the August 1821 negotiations and treaty with the Ottawa, Chippewa, and Potawatomi tribes. Folder four contains documents from 1822, including a speech by Mitiyea (or Mitea), principal chief of the Potawatomi, to the President of the United States; instructions for dealing with Wea and Kickapoo annuities; and permission given by Governor Cass for a Baptist mission at Fort Wayne. Folder five consists of correspondence regarding Hays resignation as Indian agent and Governor Cass's permission to use the mills first erected for the Miami as a mission. Some additional correspondence was written by Benjamin Kercheval. Calendar cards were added to the collection, but the indication of a subject is sometimes fragmentary.


  • 1819-1823


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

John Jacob Hays was born in New York circa 1770. He settled in Cahokia, Illinois territory around 1790. He was a merchant and engaged in trade with Native Americans living in the Mississippi River Valley. He served as sheriff of St. Clair County from 1802 to 1818 and Justice of the Peace from 1807 to 1818. He was the only Jewish resident known to live in Illinois when it became a state in 1818. In 1820, he was appointed Indian agent for the Potawatomi and Miami Tribes at Fort Wayne in Northeastern Indiana. In 1823, he resigned and returned to Cahokia, where he continued to live until his death in 1836.


Illinois State Historical Society. "John Jacob Hays (1770-1836)." Historical Markers. Accessed February 18, 2021.

Illinois State Historical Society. "John Jacob Hays Historical Marker Dedication." Publications: Illinois Heritage. Accessed February 18, 20121.


0.05 Cubic Feet (5 folders)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts from The National Archives in 1943 and 1947.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing and finding aid completed in 1999 by Philip N. Williams. EAD finding aid revised 2021/02/22 by Laura Eliason.
John Hays collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.