Township History

hayes township hall on van tyle

Hayes District #4 School House, Van Tyle/Estelle Road

Hayes Township was incorporated in 1877 as a general law township. The Township was named for then President Rutherford B. Hayes. To acknowledge the lumbering industry’s importance to the beginning of Hayes Township’s existence, the DNR named a portion of the state land located in the SW section of the south township, Deward Woods after D E. Ward.

There were four school districts in Hayes Township organized between 1870 and 1880. Three of these schools were in the northern township. District #1 was the Fisher or Pink School which was located at the bends in Hayes Tower Road near the Lake Manuka Road. District #2 was known as the VanTyle School and was at the corner of VanTyle and Coger Roads. District #3 was known as the Swanson School and was located near Otsego Lake in Section 13 of the South Township. There were two District #4 schools. One was located at the corner of Estelle and VanTyle Roads while the other was on Old Alba Road. The school on Old Alba Road was operated by the Antrim Iron Company and was called The 40 House Camp. Today, all of Hayes Township lies within the Gaylord Community School District.

In 1986 Grace Baptist Church became the first church to open it’s doors in Hayes Township. They now operate a church school as well as the church from their location on South Townline Road near the M32W intersection.

1927 W Hayes Potato ClubIn the early 1900’s the Hayes Grange #871 began construction of their building on the SW corner of VanTyle Road and Estelle Road across the road from one of the District #4 schools. As construction progressed, the funds decreased so the Grange and Hayes Township formed a partnership to build a Community building. The main floor was used by the township for it’s meetings and the second story was used by the Grange for their meetings. All social functions in the community were held on the main floor. This partnership existed until the 1980’s when the Grange built it’s own building adjacent to the Hall. In 1993 the Hayes Township Board had the opportunity to purchase the property adjacent to the Hayes cemetery at the corner of Hayes Tower Road and M32W. The existing building on the property which was once a garden nursery, was converted into the current Township Hall and the old Hall was sold and is now being used as a private residence. The new Hall is more visible, handicapped accessible and is part of the 16 acres which includes the Hayes Cemetery on the east side of the property. There is room for expansion for the next generations.

Hayes Township was a rural agricultural township. Although it was a stable community, it did not see much growth until the 1960’s. The area was covered by forest which grew up after the lumber industry moved on to new areas. Today, there is one farming operation. The Estelle Farms which raises a variety of crops including potatoes, carrots and strawberries.

Old Town HallDuring the late 1960’s the area known as Lake Arrowhead was platted with 1500 lots. The development began as a week-end retreat type of community and is now a year round major population area in the township. Lake Arrowhead operates as a private association. During the 1970’s, the Glasser family began dividing lands around Lake Manuka into several subdivisions that have become very populated. George Wellington Smith developed Wilderness Valley in the south township on the south side of Mancelona Road into the Wilderness Valley Golf Course. His grandson, David Smith, completed the second course known as the Black Forest Course. During the late 1970’s North Hayes Township was divided into hundreds of ten acre tracts by Jack Morris and as many of the plats were on Hayes Tower Road and Old Alba Road, building began and the population grew rapidly.

In 1980 the census population for Hayes Township was 870 and in 1990 it was 1437 making it the fastest growing township in Otsego County. With the number of new homes that continue to be constructed within the township, we predict that the 2000 census will exceed 2000 people. Currently there are over 1200 registered voters in Hayes Township.

The current Township Board continues to address issues such as land division requests, the freehold forest development, the request for road upgrades, zoning variances and the improvement of the Cemetery grounds and Memorial Gardens. Hayes Township has had an active role with the Otsego County Townships Officers Association which began in 1974. Supervisor/Assessor Mary Sanders has been the Secretary/Treasurer since 1977 and Mike Hyde, Trustee is currently serving his 1st term as Chairperson. This group has been a focal team for many issues for local government and this organization allows the townships to work with the County agencies as a unified group.

hayes township studentsHayes Township honored the Sanders family in January 1999. The Sanders family moved into Hayes Township during the depression years locating their farm in the center of section 10 of T29N. Charles Sanders, was a long time Supervisor and Treasurer who served 24 years. His son, Louis Sanders, was Supervisor for 25 years. Two daughters, Marjorie and Vergeline, served as Township Treasurers each over 14 years in Hayes Township and Otsego Lake Township. Charles’s son Stanley Sanders, served as Hayes Trustee from 1984 until his death in 1999. Another son, Tommy Sanders served as cemetery sexton for many years. The Sanders family has served the township since the 1940’s with dedicated and respected services. Mary Sanders continues the tradition. She has been the Township Assessor since 1974 and was appointed as supervisor after her husband Louis’ death in 1997. Mary was elected to the office of Supervisor in 1998.

The goals of the Hayes Township Board continue to be responsive to the citizens of the township. Through the years, the responsibilities have changed and increased along with the population. The Hayes Township Board is a diverse board with persons who are dedicated to maintaining the quality of life with managed growth and safeguards for the environment.

During the 2000-2020 Hayes Township has continued to grow in population and continues to be a bedroom community. Wilderness Valley Golf Course closed and that was the only commercial venture in the township. Now the township has a storage unit complex near the intersection of M 32 W and South Townline Rd. The township board continues to work for the good of the citizens and continues to be dedicated to fulfilling the mission of better local government. The township was able to purchase the adjacent property to the cemetery for future expansion.

Homestead Patents

  • CHELLIS HOOKER – November 25, 1892, land office, Reed City, Pres. Chester Arthur – 80 acres
  • FRANTZ KULKA – January 27, 1890, land office, Reed City, Pres. Ben Harrison – 160 acres
  • JUDSON HOOKER – April 3, 1885, land office, Reed City, Pres. Chester Arthur – 160 acres
  • SARAH COOMER – October 19, 1883, land office, ReedCity, Pres. Chester Arthur – 80 acres
  • JAMES DOWKER – July 8, 1897, land office, Grayling, Pres. Wm. McKinley – 160 acres
  • GEORGE WELCH – April 12, 1935, land office, Detroit, Pres. Chester Arthur – 150 3/100 acres
  • ALONZO WELCH – April 30, 1886, Pres. Grover Cleveland – 157 7/100 acres

Historical Elections Years 1886-1938