The following information was taken from an Atlas of Hayes County in Nebraska- containing maps, precincts, township directories, family histories, pictures of schools, churches, families, articles of historical value and many items of interest. It was published in 1980 by Western Cartographers and is the property of Hayes County Historical Society.
Hayes Center is named for President Rutherford B. Hayes. After many months of arguing, it was finally decided that Hayes Center would be the county seat. Of course, the town then needed a courthouse. The first one was built at the site of an old filling station owned by Bill Hobeck. On May 6, 1881, it burned down, so a second courthouse was built where the new addition to the high school was being built. It was a two room, wooden building, and as time passed it “became crowded and out of style,” which led to the construction of a new brick building set farther east down the block from the high school. This courthouse would be a two-story building with much more space and more offices. It was built in 1954 and is still used as the current courthouse.
Once upon a time, the high school and elementary school shared the same lot where the current elementary school now stands. Among the old buildings in Hayes Center were “livery barns, a hotel run by Mrs. Samuel Rathburn, two apartment houses, an ice house, and dance hall. There was also a barber shop. One of the most useful buildings was the present shoe shop. It was built in 1883, and was a bank, post office, and doctor’s office. When telephones started coming into style, a telephone office was built where Mr. Philo lives now. The Hayes Center doctor and dentist was Ervin Barker. Windmills were used often. There used to be a well in the intersection of Main Street. The last windmill was taken down in 1966.”
A report from the Hayes County Times and the Hayes County Republican (1890) – “Hayes Center’s growth has been marvelous for an inland town. The business proper consists of: three general merchandise stores, two hardware stores, two drug stores, three implement establishments, three banks, two newspaper printing offices, two livery stables, one harness shop, one meat market, two blacksmiths and wagon shops, one barber shop, two millinery stores, one boot and shoe store, four attorneys, two physicians, three carpenters, one painter, a handsome and large public school house a pretty good sized hotel, two restaurants, two boarding houses, and many handsome residences.”