By KRISTINA SMITH
Hayes Presidential Library & Museums
Fremont and Villa Hayes in Paraguay will become sister cities on Monday, Nov. 12, 140 years after President Rutherford B. Hayes arbitrated a land dispute in Paraguay’s favor and became a national hero there.
The public is invited to a brief ceremony where officials from the two cities will dedicate a tree in honor of the agreement at 12:15 p.m. on the grounds of Spiegel Grove.
Then at 1 p.m., they will sign the sister city agreement in the Presidents Gallery of the Hayes Museum. The public is also invited to this ceremony, which will last about a half hour. Live music will be included.
A reception in the rotunda with light refreshments will follow.
Ambassador German Rojas of Paraguay, Villa Hayes Mayor Esteban Rios Ayala, Fremont Mayor Danny Sanchez and Hayes Presidential Library & Museums Executive Director Christie Weininger will speak during the event.
This will be Rojas’ second visit to the Hayes Presidential Library & Museums after he was one of the speakers during the institution’s centennial celebration in 2016.
“We’ve been working on a sister city relationship ever since the centennial anniversary of the Hayes Presidential Library & Museums in 2016,” Weininger said. “We’re so excited to formalize the relationship between Fremont and Villa Hayes.”
Villa Hayes will be Fremont’s first sister city. Sanchez said he was excited to meet the officials from Paraguay.
“This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Sanchez said. “We hope it helps to broaden the appeal of Fremont and the Hayes Presidential Library & Museums to more than just the Sandusky County area.”
Villa Hayes, as well as a province, soccer team and museum in the South American country are named for President Hayes. On Nov. 12, 1878, he arbitrated a land dispute between Paraguay and Argentina after the Paraguayan War.
Hayes awarded the Gran Chaco region – which is about the size of Michigan – to Paraguay, giving the country 60 percent of its land. Hayes’ memory continues to be honored by Paraguayans, who celebrate Nov. 12 as a holiday.
There is a replica bust of President Hayes at the Rutherford B. Hayes School in Villa Hayes. In a 1956 ceremony, James Keys, the U. S. embassy’s public affairs officer presented the bust to city officials, school administrators and students.
Visitors to Spiegel Grove can learn more about Hayes’ connection to Paraguay.
The Hayes Presidential Library & Museums is America’s first presidential library and the forerunner for the federal presidential library system. It is partially funded by the state of Ohio and affiliated with the Ohio History Connection. The Hayes Presidential Library & Museums is located at Spiegel Grove at the corner of Hayes and Buckland avenues.
For information, call 419-332-2081, or visit rbhayes.org. Like HPLM on Facebook at fb.me/rbhayespres and follow on Twitter at @rbhayespres and Instagram at rbhayespres.
Kristina Smith is communications/marketing manager for Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums, Spiegel Grove, Fremont, 419-332-2081, ext. 217.