Ranger John Coffee “Jack” Hays was born in Little Cedar Lick, Wilson County, Tennessee, January 28, 1817. In “Texas Rising,” he seems to be a somewhat less important character, likely because most of his service as a Texas Ranger occurred after the Texas Revolution. Hays was related to Andrew Jackson’s family in that Mrs. Jackson was his great aunt. His father fought with Andrew Jackson and gave Jack his middle name Coffee in honor of Gen. John Coffee who had also served under Jackson.
When Hays was still a young man, he left Tennessee and moved to Mississippi where he learned surveying. Some accounts have him coming to Texas in 1836, early enough to serve under Erastus “Deaf” Smith and Henry W. Karnes while others maintain that he arrived in late 1837 or early 1838. Regardless, he had settled in San Antonio by February, 1840 and apparently “rangered” while he also served as a surveyor. He fought in the Battle of Plumb Creek and in 1840 he became Captain of a company of Rangers under Mirabeau B. Lamar, during the interim years after the Texas Revolution but before the Mexican-American War. In addition to Plum Creek, he was also involved in action at Cañon de Ugalde, Bandera Pass and Painted Rock. Read the rest of this entry »