Civil War Major, co-founder of the Union Veteran Legion
Albert Buell Hay was born in Zelienople, Butler County, in 1844. His father, Robert Hay, eventually moved the family to Allegheny City where he became the proprietor of a shoe store on Federal Street. Young Albert attended school at Connoquenessing Academy in Zelienople and was a student at Jefferson College [later Washington and Jefferson College] at the start of the Civil War. Bypassing the approval of his parents, 15 year old Hay bluffed his way into the Union Army but was sent home when his real age was discovered. In 1861, at age 16, he joined the 78th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantrymen, Company H. As a member of the 78th, he saw action in the battles of Stones River, Chickamauga and the siege of Chattanooga. He was decorated for bravery and rose to the rank of Major. Hay was mustered out at the end of the war in November of 1864.
Young Major Hay resumed his studies in 1864 and was admitted to the bar in January of 1868. Hay was active in the Republican party and met then presidential candidate William McKinley in 1896 as one of several Republican Delegates representing Allegheny County. Hay served as a solicitor for Allegheny County from 1906 until 1916. He was appointed an assistant district attorney in 1918, a post he held until shortly before his death in 1934.
Twenty years after the end of the Civil War, Major Hay and General A. J. Pearson founded The Union Veterans, a veterans’ group whose membership was limited to those who had served a minimum of two years in the Union Forces or who had been wounded in battle. Hay also served as a legal consul to the soldiers’ committee for what became Soldiers and Sailors Memorial in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
At the time of his death at age 90, Hay was the oldest lawyer in Pittsburgh as well as the oldest member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. He had been predeceased by his wife but was survived by five sons and four daughters.