Delitha's maiden name is unknown to me. Her husband is unknown to me. She was undoubtedly my great, great, great grandma, mother of Elias B. Hays. Here is what is known.
Hays, or similar spellings, is an incredibly common surname, occurring in some form in all of the British Isles going back to the 12th century. However, I have always been hopeful that the given name of "Delitha" would be helpful in finding her family. Another difficulty with this research is that the Tippah County, Mississippi, courthouse was destroyed during the Civil War.
In 1840, Delitha Hays lived in Tippah County, Mississippi, as head of household, with seven possible children, from toddler age to over age twenty. She herself was age 40-50.
A transcript of an 1837 Tax List of Tippah Co - found online at USGenWeb has an M. L. Hays - if transcribed correctly. Given the confusion of M's and W's as well as L's and S's in the handwriting of this period, I have no confidence in the transcription. I have not seen the actual tax list.
Another researcher of this family, told me Delitha was in the 1841 and 1845 Mississippi State censuses but never sent me actual copies. She doesn't seem to appear in those censuses as they have been posted on Ancestry, but that could be a transcription or indexing problem. She should have been there because she was still in Tippah County in 1850.
1850 Census, Tippah Co MS, Dwelling #1038.
"Delilah" Hays, age 53, born NC [this would place her year of birth circa 1797]. Parthena, age 12, b. TN [Parthena will later testify that she was present at the marriage of Elias & Martha Crutcher Hays in Tippah Co in 1847.]
Probable granddaughters: Mary Ball, age 11, Alethe Ball age 9, Elizabeth Vincent, age 4. [There was a marriage in Shelby County, Tennessee: Charles Vincent to Polly Hays, 12 Apr 1834. A Charles Vinson was listed in the Mississippi State Census in 1845 - there was one male, 4 females in his household. No Hays/Ball marriage has been found.]
I believe the following may be sons, all found in Tippah County and their ages fit well in that earlier 1840 census. It does not account for all in that 1840 household.
Dwelling #1013. Elias Hays, 22, Laborer, born TN. Martha 17, born TN, Mary E. age , age 1, born in Mississippi [Elias is my great, great grandfather.]
Dwelling #1073. Martin Hays, age 21, born NC. Margaret R. age 21, born TN
Dwelling #1074. John Hays, age 26, born NC. Frances, age 23, b. IL, Nancy J. age 6, born TN. And Wiley Martin, age 18, b. AL.
Another Shelby County, Tennessee marriage was for N. R. Hays who married Mary Gilbert 5 Feb 1845. [N. R. Hays fits in age as one of the older sons of Delitha in the 1840 Census. N. R. & Mary Hays are on the Johnson Co AR Census in 1850 in the same Township (Pittsburg) where Delitha & Elias will be found in 1860. But N. R. was not there by 1860. He had in fact gone to California and the 1860 census shows his given name was Nicholas. In 1850 his place of birth was Alabama - it was Tennessee in 1860.]
Soon after the 1850 census, the Hays families moved to Johnson County, Arkansas. Elias Hays's daughter Ann Eliza was apparently born in Arkansas in September of 1851. There were other Hays families already there including the above possibility regarding N. R. Hays. Research of these other families does not indicate they were ever in Shelby County, Tennesse, or in Mississippi - they apparently did originate in North Carolina and some may have lived in Illinois prior to coming to Arkansas.
One of the Hays households in Johnson County, Arkansas, in 1850, is that of Henry B. Hays, age 43, born in North Carolina. Strangely he has a child, age six, named Darlethia and born in Arkansas. An older daughter was born in Illinois.
These records have been found in Johnson County:
April Court, 1853. Johnson Co AR
Delitha Hays petitioned the court to appoint Elias B. Hays as guardian for her granddaughter Elizabeth Vincent under the age of 14. [Elizabeth was 4 in 1850 and in Delitha's household.]
6 Jul 1856. Mary Ann Ball was married to Richard Grantham in Johnson Co at the home of Delitha Hays. [Mary was living with Delitha back in Tippah Co, 1850, when she was 11 years old. Her apparent sister Alethe Ball from 1850 does not appear again.]
1857 (date is incomplete). From Probate Court Records, Johnson Co AR, over 10,000 Names. Compiled by Mrs. R. W. Michel. Copy sent from Jane Lumsden: Richard Grantham petitions to remove Elias Hays, guardian of Elizabeth Vincent. Petition was denied and Elizabeth remained in the home of Elias for the 1860 Census.
Here is the family in 1860, Johnson County, Arkansas
1860 Census. Johnson Co AR, Hh 341.
Delitha Hays age 58, b. NC [she should have been 63, if she gave her age correctly in 1850]. Margaret Hays age 28, b. TN. Parthena, age 20, b. MS
Ardenia age 9 and Arkansas age 7, both born in AR. [I believe Margaret to possibly be the widow of Martin, but this is a long shot. This is the last known record of Delitha.]
Elias Hays & family was also in Johnson Co in 1860. He gave his place of birth as Mississippi [I have several conflicting records about his birth, but I believe it is most likely he was born in Tennessee.] Baby Mary from 1850 was now age 11 and born in Mississippi. Ann, "Dolitha", John & William have all been born in Arkansas. Elizabeth Vincent, now 14, is with his family.
Next door to Elias lived Nathan & Sarah Grantham, parents of Richard who had married Elias's niece Mary Ann Ball.
Richard Grantham, age 19, b.LA, and Mary [Mary Ann Ball] age 21, b. Mississippi, and Sarah, age 1, were also living in Johnson Co.
There was also a John Hays, age 39, b. in NC. No spouse. Daughter Isabella age 7 and son Francis age 4, both born in AR. [No way to determine if this was the John Hays from 1850, Tippah Co MS - if so, his wife Frances has died and the daughter Nancy, born about 1844 has either died or married or is living elsewhere. It is noted that his birthplace is NC and he has named a son Francis. This could also very well be the John Hays, son of Henry & Elizabeth Dillard Hays [they are said to also be the parents of the Henry B. Hays mentioned above] who was a single man in Johnson Co in 1850. The age really doesn't match either John and he could of course be totally unrelated to either family.]
I have not found Delitha in any record after 1860. Elias Hays appears on the Muster Roll of Co. C, 17th Arkansas Infantry [Confederate] in November of 1861. He had enlisted at Clarksville, Arkansas, which is in Johnson County; I have considerable details about his service but that is not pertinent to the hunt for Delitha's family. Elias and family, including his nieces, were in Crawford County, Arkansas by 1869 and probably a few years earlier. None of Delitha Hays's family appears to have remained in Johnson County by 1870, except for Richard Grantham and his wife Mary Ann Ball.
More to follow about my search.