Hayt School: Stephen K. Hayt--the man

Vol. XXVIII No. 4 - FALL 2017

By LeRoy Blommaert
This is the first in a series of articles about the persons for whom Edgewater public schools were named.
Stephen K. Hayt was not an educator, businessman or elected official. He was a soldier who died in the service of his country. And, like most soldiers who die in combat, he was a young man when he died – only 24 years old. Very probably he was the youngest person for whom a Chicago public school was ever named.
Stephen Kingman Hayt was born October 24, 1880, the first child and first son of Walter V. (Voorhees) and Alice Baker Hayt. He was born not in Chicago nor even in Illinois but in the town of Santa Fe, in what was then the Territory of New Mexico. (The territory did not became a state until 1912.) His father came from New York state and was a stationer and bookseller in Santa Fe. The Victorian house he had built there in 1882 (now known as the Hayt-Wientge house) still stands and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Hayts sold the house in January 1888, and Walter moved to Illinois and the City of Lake View in the same year, if not before. There is a possibility that the rest of the family came later
Even before entering the army, Stephen moved around quite a bit during his young life. In Chicago, he and his family lived at five different addresses before he joined the army – all on the north side. At first they settled in the Belmont-Clark-Halsted area where they lived at two different addresses; however in 1892 or 1893 they moved to the then very new Sheridan Park subdivision in what is now Uptown. They lived in three different houses there before he left for service, the last being 3242 Dover (currently 4647).
In 1893, when he was either 12 or 13, Stephen’s father remarried. Clara was at most just 10 years older than Stephen, and possibly only 7 or 8! (On her application for a Social Security number she gave her date of birth as September 30, 1873.) We have not been able to determine what happened to his mother, Alice – whether she died or whether she and his father separated or divorced. However, it is probable that she died, because it appears from comparing census data that Clara was Stephen’s mother’s younger sister and thus was both Stephen’s aunt and stepmother.
Stephen presumably attended Lake View High School, as it was the closest to his home, but a review of the graduates of that school for the years 1896 to 1900 failed to find his name, so it possible he did not attend high school at all, or that he attended a private one, or that he attended Lake View but did not graduate. (The same is true for grammar school.) The Chicago Board of Education Archives has no record of his attending any Chicago public grammar school, so it is possible that he was either home schooled or else he attended a private school. However, a check with the Episcopal diocese historian revealed that there was no Episcopal school in Chicago at that time.
According to one source it was Senator Shelby Cullom who encouraged him to make the army his career. He enlisted in Chicago on July 9, 1900, when he was 19 years and 8 months old; he gave his occupation as clerk. The army enlistment records show him as of fair skin, with blue eyes and light brown hair and standing 5 feet 7 inches tall. He was discharged on May 7, 1902, at Lingayden in the Philippine Islands, but re-enlisted just 6 days later on May 13 of the same year in Manila. On August 18, 1903, he was promoted from sergeant to 2nd lieutenant at Ft. Niagara, New York. While there he met Kathryn Gorman of Youngstown, New York; they were married September 2, 1904. She joined him during his second assignment to the Philippines.
As a lieutenant he was in command of a group of 37 members of the Philippine constabulary (the 58th Philippine Scouts) when they were ambushed on December 23, 1904 on the Island of Samar at a place called Dolores by an overwhelming force of followers of a native religious leader named Pulajanes that had been terrorizing the local population. He and all but one of the members under his command were killed. Kathryn was made a widow just less than four months after they were married.
When news of his death reached Chicago his father was reported to be devastated. When plans were made for a new school to replace the Rosehill school which could no longer accommodate the expanding school population in the area, the Board voted in January 1906 to name the new school in his honor.
On January 24, 1906, Stephen’s father wrote a poignant letter to the Secretary of the Board (which for us is also especially informative), an excerpt of which follows:
“I want to convey to you and to the members of the Board how highly this act is appreciated by his young widow, my family and Stephen’s friends in this immediate community. Here he spent his boyhood, loved by his associates and known by the older people of the Community by his sweet face, long curls and beautiful voice when a choir-boy at the Church of Atonement at Kenmore and Ardmore avenues. The children of his playmates will attend this school. No more fitting monument can be erected to any man, more lasting than marble or granite and having none of the coldness of either, but alive with young life, love, and happiness.”
However this kind act was not to last. On February 13, 1907, the Board voted to rename the new school for Nathaniel Pope, Illinois territorial delegate to Congress, and an official who was instrumental in adding today’s northern counties including Cook to the state’s territory. The renaming was evidently not popular, and some four months later, on June 26, 1907, the Board rescinded its earlier renaming, and the school reverted to its original name, which was never removed from the stone over the central entrance, and which it has retained ever since. See the photo at the right, which is a postcard of the school when it was briefly named Pope. It is signed by the Principal of the time. (In 1918, the Board named another school for Pope. It was located in North Lawndale, but is now closed.)
Stephen had two brothers. One named Walter D. was born two years later than he in 1882. Walter also joined the army but apparently saw no combat. He was discharged at Walla Walla Washington on June 11, 1908. Edward the other brother was one Stephen never saw; he was born in 1906, after Stephen had been killed.
In 1913 Stephen’s father, stepmother, and two brothers left Chicago for Placer County California where the father and older brother became fruit farmers. Ironically, though Stephen died young, at age 24, his father lived to be 92 (1857-1949). Stephen’s widow Kathryn was given a pension of $25 a month by a Special Act of Congress.
Stephen and his brothers could trace their lineage on their father’s side back to the American Revolution, in which one of their ancestors fought. Stephen was listed as a Son of the American Revolution on the Society’s roster of 1902.
Stephen Hayt is buried at Graceland cemetery in what is now an unmarked grave. Prior to his burial on March 26, 1905, services were held at his family’s home on Dover then at All Saints Episcopal Church on Wilson, where he had been a congregant as early as 1894. He was buried with full military honors.
Sources: Census records, City Directories, Chicago Board of Education proceedings. A.T. Andreas, History of Cook County. Chicago Tribune Proquest archives, California Death records, Sons of the American Revolution, National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the Hayt-Weintge house in Santa Fe New Mexico, 1975, Army enlistment records, records of All Saints Episcopal Church, emails with Episcopal diocese historian.