Born: April 4, 1825, in Hartford County, Connecticut
Died: February 5, 1900, in Tempe
As a young man, Charles T. Hayden moved from Connecticut to Independence, Missouri. By 1848, he started running freight wagons on the Santa Fe Trail. In 1858, he bought his own wagons and supplies and established a freighting business in Tucson. In those days before the railroads came to Arizona, Hayden supplied army posts, mining camps, and towns across the territory. One day in the 1860s, Hayden left Tucson on a business trip to Florence and Prescott. When he reached the Salt River, the water was too high, and he had to camp for two days before he could cross. During this time, he climbed up a butte near the river and looked across the valley, noting the potential for development in the area. In November of 1870, Charles T. Hayden and four associates filed a claim in Yavapai County to 10,000 inches of water from the Salt River for the Hayden Milling and Farm Ditch Company. He also filed a homestead declaration on 160 acres in section 15, the land near the butte that would eventually become downtown Tempe.
Charles Hayden is generally credited with being the founder of Tempe. He was the first to establish commerce and industry in the area, which made a permanent settlement possible. When Hayden heard that settlers were building a canal on the south side of the Salt River, he brought his wagons up and offered much-needed tools and supplies for the workers. In 1872 he opened a store and laid the foundation for a flour mill. A canal was extended along the base of the butte to bring water to the mill to turn the grind stones. In 1873, he started building an adobe house with a walled patio (see Hayden House/La Casa Vieja). He built a cable-operated ferry on the river, and eventually relocated all of his freighting operations to the Tempe area. The mill was completed in 1874, and the settlement, which was known as Hayden's Ferry, had a blacksmith shop with three forges, a store, an orchard and vineyard.
Hayden was appointed as a federal Judge for the Tucson district in 1858, and he was known as Judge Hayden for rest of his life. He was a strong promoter of education, and was influential in encouraging the Territorial Legislature to choose Tempe as the site for the Territorial Normal School in 1885. He also helped raise money to acquire and donate property for Normal School, which grew to become Arizona State University. Hayden was involved in the development of the community in many ways. He was a director of the Tempe Irrigating Canal Company, a member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, 1880-1882, a trustee of Tempe School District No. 3 in 1884, and president of the Territorial Normal School Board of Education, 1885-1888.
Charles Hayden married Sallie Calvert Davis in Nevada City, California, on October 4, 1876. They had one son, Carl T. Hayden, who would later serve as Arizona's longtime Congressman and Senator, and three daughters, Sally, Anna, and Mary.