Friday, April 15, 2011

John Hay and Crystal Park

JOHN HAY (1838 – 1905)

John Hay was a statesman, diplomat, author, journalist and private secretary to Abraham Lincoln.

He became a secretary to Lincoln at age 22.  He was Lincoln’s friend, confidant, companion and doer of odd jobs.  He lived in the northwest corner bedroom on the second floor of the White House, a room he shared with fellow secretary and future co-author John G. Nicolay.  Hay was present when Lincoln died after being shot at the theater in Washington.

Hay first came to Crystal Park in 1883, and, like many others, he was immediately taken with it’s beauty, eventually buying most of what is now the Upper Park, which he owned until his death in 1905.  Hay spent several summers in the Park, and Nicolay visited him here on a number of occasions.  Portions of their definitive ten-volume work on the life of Lincoln (Abraham Lincoln: A History, published in 1890) were written in Hay’s cabin, which stood at the Gateway (entrance to the Upper Park).

In 1897, President William McKinley appointed John Hay Ambassador to the United Kingdom.  In August of 1898, he was named Secretary of State, a post he held under both McKinley and President Theodore Roosevelt until Hay’s death in 1905.  His contributions to the United States included negotiating over 50 treaties, developing the Open Door policy in China, and preparations for the construction and usage of the Panama Canal.  Hay also was a writer and poet of some renown, and was one the first seven people chosen for membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1904.

Hay’s Cabin in 1907.  Note the burro in the background.  This was before the road to Crystal Park was completed.  Burro trips from Manitou were a common way for tourists and visitors to get to the Park

Hay's cabin sometime around 1890 (estimate)

John Hay 1904

John G. Nicolay, Abraham Lincoln, John Hay.  Taken by Alexander Gardner in
Washington D. C. on November 8, 1863, 11 days before the Gettysburg Address.
Photo of John Hay taken during the Civil War by Matthew Brady, the most famous
photographer of the time.
Notice in the New York Times on November 8, 1908, regarding the sale of Crystal Park for $40,000 and plans to build a hotel and other improvements.  This is one of many plans for the Park that never materialized.