Hays House History

Seth Hays, Daniel Boone's great-grandson, came to Council Grove with a license from his cousin A.G. Boone to trade with the Kaw (Kansa) Indians. When he came in 1847, this town was already a wagon train rendezvous on the bustling Santa Fe Trail. Hays soon built a log cabin and began the business of serving food and trading goods. The Hays House building was built by him in 1857 and sits straight on the Santa Fe Trail, now askew with Main Street.


From the mid-to-late 1800's this restaurant and trading post was also the site of many other local activities. The U.S. government rented space in the building to hold court and mail was distributed there. History tells us that on Saturday nights the bottles were covered up so church services could be held on Sunday mornings.


In the early years, when the roof was peaked, theatricals were held on the second floor. In 1886, a fire destroyed several buildings on the north side of Main Street and it was probably this fire that burned the roof. The story which has been passed down is that many of the local citizens came to save the Hays House first. Whether it was because it was the local tavern or other reasons, we will never know.  Soon after the sides were raised, the roof became flat and the second floor became ten "rooms to let." We have not had sleeping rooms since the 1940s.

We encourage you to look around the Hays House Restaurant, a National Register Historic Landmark, when you visit.  From the Cellar in the basement to the Crystal Room on the second floor which houses the Judd Family's prized collection of crystal, there are things to see on every floor. Be sure to ask about the turn-of-the-century collection of vintage handbags.