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THE DEATH OF MR. J.S. HAYES THE SINGLETON ARGUS FRIDAY, 25TH SEPTEMBER, 1964
– One of Singleton’s well know personalities, who was one of the oldest living farriers in the Hunter Valley, was laid to rest in the Queen Street cemetery this afternoon. He was the late Mr. J.S. Hayes, who passed away yesterday morning at his home in Boundary Street, after a long illness.
Mr. Hayes was in his 70th year. He had seen much of Singleton and the Hunter Valley growth. He watched the town and district develop its rich rural industry during good times, and he could recall its struggle for existance during time of drought, flood and depression.
Despite his great age, Mr. Hayes always maintained his sense of homour and was renowned for the joyful stories he could relate on the early days of Singleton and the people he was associated with. Unfortunately his health failed him in recent years and he was confined to bed. Born at Congewai, near Millfield, in 1867, Mr. Hayes was the second eldest in the family of eight children born to the late Mr. and Mrs. Michael Hayes.
His family ties with the Hunter Valley extend well over a century, as his father was a carrier during the pioneering days, carrying goods from Morpeth, which was one of the main goods distribution centres, to Narrabri. Mr. Hayes was only a small boy when the family took over a section of virgin land at Millfield, and had to clear it by hand before it was ready to produce crops. He worked on his father’s vineyard until he was 14 years of age, and then ventured out into the world to accept other farmwork, using a bullock drawn plough. He worked in this capacity for two years before being apprenticed to the blacksmith trade, which was to be his life’s work.
Mr. Hayes commenced work on New Year’s Day 1868, as an improver with Mr. Bourne of Wollombi. Some years after he moved to Singleton to work for Mr. Hugo Munro, and had been a member of the Singleton community ever since. Mr. Hayes opened his own business, after working for another employer, Mr. J. McFadden, for 13 years, 3 of them as Manager. Vehicles made by Mr. Hayes, in his own business, often were sent far afield, as special orders were received from such places as Atherton and New Mexico in Queensland.
Mr. Hayes also earned a reputation for his efficiency with a forge and anvil. A record set by him, as a younger man, is believed to be still unbroken. It is the all-Australian record for making 48 horseshoes in the quickest time with the best workmanship. His time was 54 minutes 12 seconds. A Victorian set the first record of 9 sets in less than an hour. This record was subsequently broken by another Singletonian, Mr. J.E. Lancaster. A contest between both Singleton men led to Mr. Hayes being named the winner. During his leisure moments Mr. Hayes enjoyed Amateur Musical productions. Up till the time of his death he was the sole surviving member of the original Singleton Musical Variety Company.
His wife was formerly Miss Elizabeth McDermott, of Vere, whom he married in St. Patrick’s Church. Much of Mr. Hayes work as a ‘smithy’ is incorporated in many of the older buildings in Singleton. He did all the steel work during the building of the Singleton Presbyterian Church, including intricate iron scroll work. Although he officially retired about 1928, Mr. Hayes did not seek a life of leisure. He continued to make useful household tinware articles out of old metal, which he distributed to his many friends. During the second World War he stepped up production of his ‘jewellery’, as he called it, for the war effort. Over 3000 articles were distributed to soldiers’ organizations. His versitility with these articles was such that more than 20 varieties of objects were made by him and at one stage his total was almost 7000.
Mr. Hayes passing is a loss to the community and to all who knew him. Members of his family, who survive him, are his children – Evelyn (Mrs. Schubert, Boundary Street), Joseph (Boundary Street), Veronica (Mrs. Byrnes, Manilla), Catherine (Boundary Street), Elizabeth (Mrs. Storey, Woodburn), Daniel (New Lambton) and Stephen (Mayfield). He was predeceased by his wife, Elizabeth, and a son, John. After a funeral service at St. Patrick’s Church, the remains were interred in the Queen Street cemetery.