People

Notable People

Kaufman Hays - Merchant and Banker

10229 Lake Shore Boulevard
Kaufman Hays 1886
Kaufman Hays 1886

Kaufman Hays, merchant, banker, and civic leader, was born on March 9, 1835, to Abraham and Bertha Hays in Storndorf, Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany. He immigrated to the United States in 1852 and settled immediately in Cleveland, where his sister had been living since 1850. As a young man, Hays worked in several local retail stores owned by Jewish merchants. In 1860, he joined his father-in-law, Simson Thorman, in his hides and wool business.

Kaufman left the business in 1964 to establish the Hays Bros. clothing store with his brother Joseph. Hays Bros. remained in operation until 1885 when it was sold to Klein & Lehman.

Hays was among the organizers of the Teutonia Insurance Co. in 1867. Against his advice, the company directors decided to insure businesses in Chicago, and the company was subsequently wiped out financially by the great fire of 1871.

In 1868, Hays purchased stock in Citizens Savings & Loan Co., becoming a director in 1875. He also held stock in City National Bank. In 1886, he established Euclid Avenue National Bank with Myron Herrick, Charles Brush, and Solon Severance. He was elected vice-president in 1893 and held that position until 1905 when the bank merged with Park National Bank to form the Euclid-Park National Bank, which became the First National Bank of Cleveland, and ultimately part of the Union Trust Company. Hays was a vice-president until his death.

When the Turner Manufacturing Company, a textile company, failed in 1893, Hays became secretary of the reorganized company. The directors asked him and George Hodgson to manage the firm. They built the company into Cleveland Worsted Mills, which was the city’s largest textile mill by the turn of the century. It was said that enough cloth was woven each year to make two million suits.

Hays was elected to Cleveland City Council in 1886., Hays was appointed acting treasurer following embezzlement of city funds by the treasurer in 1888. Hays was credited with saving Cleveland’s credit and returning the city to sound financial ground.

Hays was a founder of the Hebrew Benevolent Society and a member of Temple Tifereth Israel (The Temple) and served as the congregation’s president from 1867 to 1871.

Kaufman married Elizabeth (Lizzie) Thorman on May 8, 1861. She was born in Cleveland on December 20, 1841, to Simpson and Rachel Thorman. Simpson Thorman was one of the first permanent Jewish settlers in Cleveland. Kaufman and Lizzie had four daughters: Isabelle (Marks), born on June 25, 1862; Rolinda (Joseph), born on October 16, 1864; Henrietta (Huebsch), born on June 5, 1867; and Frances (Gries), born on December 4, 1876, Hays built an estate of four stucco houses in Bratenahl for himself and his four daughters.

Lizzie died on March 5, 1907.  Kaufman died at his Bratenahl home on April 12, 1916. Both are buried in the Mayfield Cemetery