William Hays was born on June 27, 1774, the son of John and Jane Walker Hays of Northampton County, PA. The family moved to Pittsburgh when William was a child, the youngster apprenticing as a tanner and evolving as a wealthy manufacturer/merchant by the turn of the century. Hays’s first Pittsburgh tannery was located at Diamond Alley and Liberty Avenue near Pittsburgh’s old Market Square, the streets indicating a demarcation point for a growing leather district. Doing business in today’s Duquesne Borough, his business became “William Hays and Sons” by the 1830s; and “Hays and Stewart,” employing 14 people, after his death. A popular man, William served as a trustee for Western University (Pitt) in 1818; the state House of Representatives, 1830; and the state Senate, 1831-1835. He married Lydia Semple. Senator Hays died on October 14, 1848.