What is the Abraham Hays Foundation?
The Abraham Hays Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, founded to promote and preserve the legacy of one of America’s most storied families and one of Pittsburgh’s oldest standing structures, Harden Place, otherwise known in the Pittsburgh area as Hays Mansion. The foundation receives its namesake from the family patriarch, Abraham Hays, Jr. Abraham and his wife, Francis "Fannie" Pittee, were among the first settlers of Pittsburgh in 1767. With 248 years of rich family history, spanning from the end of the French-Indian War through the Civil War, Industrial Revolution and into modern America, the Hays family legacy is not one to be forgotten.
On June 19, 2013, Harden Place was saved from demolition and one of the most important legacies in Pittsburgh's history is now on a path towards restoration and preservation by members of the Hays family and dedicated friends. To learn more about Harden Place and the Abraham Hays Foundation’s current efforts, click here.
How did the Abraham Hays Foundation begin?
For founder James M. Deibel, the genesis of The Abraham Hays Foundation, Inc. is one of honor and incredible discovery. In February 2012, during a celebration of his father’s 84th birthday, Jim's father, John Eyman Deibel announced that he wished to travel to Homestead, Pennsylvania, to visit his mother's grave. Margaret "Peggy" Eyman Deibel died in January 1929 when he was eleven months old. Jim's dad also reminisced that, aside from his granparents, John Harold and Flora Edna Hays Eyman and his Aunt Mildred and her son Teddy, he knew no one in his mother’s family. Compelled by his father’s comment, Jim decided to begin research to locate and find any living relatives of his father.
This launched Jim into what is now a five-year extensive journey into the Deibel family history, particularly his great-grandmother Flora Edna Hays Eyman's family, the Hays family. Throughout his journey, Jim has been assisted by renowned historian and author David McCullough, and the President and CEO of the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, Andrew E. Masich. To-date Jim has discovered over 5,000 living Hays descendants and currently has some 28,000 people on his ancestry.com family tree. Additionally, through the generosity of Mark Draper, Ph.D., and Constance Draper, the foundation was gifted Harden Place in October 2014 by the Drapers.
To read more about Jim’s exciting journey, click here.
Learn more about The Abraham Hays Foundation, Inc. and its founders.
Resource library to historical family documents, local Pittsburgh history, historical societies, and other resources.