Boy from Scotland becomes Texan judge

by Scott Gibson

George Hay

George Hay was born in Erskine, Scotland, in 1836. His parents, Alexander and Jessie, were the first members to be baptised in Scotland on January 14th, 1840. With his parents, he sailed for America from Liverpool, England, in 1841. They landed at New Orleans on October 19, 1841, from where they proceeded to Nauvoo, the Latter-day Saint city in Illinois.

Church records confirm that Alexander Hay was ordained a seventy in 1846, and Alexander and Jessie received their own endowment in the Nauvoo temple. In September 1848, hearing of opportunities in Texas, and seeking a land free from the antagonism directed at that time to Latter-day Saints, the family started their journey with others to Texas in wagons drawn by mules. A long trip was ahead of them with all sorts of dangers and perils, but fearlessly the little band pursued their journey. George Hay was then a small boy, 12 years of age.

Their destination was Zodiac, a Latter-day Saint settlement on the Pedernales river, which they reached after nearly three months ‘on the road’. In company with a large party of Latter-day Saints, they decided to transfer their location to the county of Bandera, reaching there in March 1854. On his arrival in Bandera, George subsequently said, 'This was a beautiful country then, a wilderness it is true, but inviting and offering our people wonderful possibilities.”

George Hay was appointed deputy clerk, then county clerk, and then became Judge George Hay of Bandera County, Texas—so a boy from Bishopton, in the Paisley Scotland Stake, became Judge of Bandera County, Texas.

Judge Hay says, 'In 1861, when the Civil War came on, ... I was commissioned a lieutenant, but being an officer made no difference to me. I went into ranks, stood guard, and performed all the duties of a private.”

He continues, “There are many thrilling incidents connected with the history of this country. Many tragedies have taken place, many hardships were endured by the first settlers, ... many of our sons have gone out and won high places in the world, many of our daughters have married and raised manly sons and lovely daughters who are today filling places of usefulness in different parts of the country. I am proud that I can look back upon the sixty-nine years that I have spent here and realise the wonderful changes that have taken place, all for the betterment of mankind and the glory of American manhood and womanhood that brought these things to pass.”

Judge Hay spent his declining years at the old family homestead in Bandera, where for many years he and his good wife kept open house to travellers and entertained many distinguished visitors under their roof.

George Hay died at the age 89 on 6 February 1925 and was buried in Bandera. His wife Virginia passed away in Bandera on 6 November 1941 at the age of 97.

This story can be found in the Hondo Anvil Herald newspaper, Texas USA 1st April 1922