Eighth May Generation
The Old May Mill

Reuben May (1800-1840)

  Biographical Sketch | More biographical sketches | Reuben May Chapel

Views of Maytown

Fred T. May

Millstones located in 2008

In the 1940s an article in a local newspaper by Tommy Thomas tells that a

"Grist Mill Older Than Kentucky Still Grinds"

Thomas began by saying, "The Old May Mill —a turbine grist mill in Floyd County— isn't very impressive to the eye, but it's a landmark which a court once decided was older that the Commonwealth of Kentucky." He reported on his personal visit to the mill in Maytown on Beaver Creek, walking along the railroad track across from the small community and being startled by the "devilish-near ping of a rifle." "That ain't nothing," a young fellow explained to him later. "Them boys shoot like that all the time. Plumb crazy, I guess, Ain't killed nobody yet." Soon Thomas met a couple of pretty girls singing "Down by the Old Mill Stream." Though repaired over the years to keep it operational. He continues that "There are parts of it —the big red-beech logs used to support the house and the logs used in the dam-work— which are still very ancient looking " and that "operations are expected to resume next spring if sufficient current is available." Three years earlier an old settler praised a 'turn' he had milled there, saying that it made "the finest bread he had ever eaten." John Wireman, known locally to have been a "half-breed Indian," built the mill and years later he sold it to Reuben May.1

Family traditions say that the mill had been erected before 1792, the year the Commonwealth was formed from the mother state of Virginia. This tradition was presented as fact by John May, one of Reuben's sons, in defense of retaining a mill dam on the creek. Right Beaver had been declared a navigable stream by the State Legislature and the dam prevented the transport of goods on the stream. John May won his point, either by logic or bluff, by contending that the State had no authority to remove the dam, since it was built before the State came into existence, and the only recourse was to buy the picturesque landmark.

George Allen May, A grandson of Reuben, is said to have been the last of the family to operate the mill before it was razed.

1 Reuben May, a son of John and Sarah Phillips May, married Sarah (Sally) Allen in 1825 and they first lived on Shelby Creek in Pike County. About 1829 he and Sally moved to a farm on Beaver Creek where Sally's family had lived for a number of years. His interest in owning the mill probably stemed from experience he had working in the mill his father had operated on Shelby Creek. In 1832 Reuben purchased 100 acres from a brother-in-law, Henry Patton for $300 —thought to be the same land which became the location of Maytown. Reuben died in 1840 at the age of 40, leaving Sally with eight young children and a daughter —named Reuben Ann— due in a few months.

Biographical sketch of Reuben | More biographical sketches | Reuben May Chapel

Millstones at Maytown
Fred T. May - 2008

In 2008, while in Floyd County for the May Family Reunion, I went with Edsel Moore, a descendant of Reuben May, to see the new stones place on the graves of Reuben and Sarah. As we came back down the dirt road from the gravesite, we met T.A. Combs, who owns the property, and he invited us to stop by at his home. In the back yard he showed us millstones that were saved when the mill was finally destroyed, probably in one of the frequent floods that have plagued Beaver Creek for many years. Here are some photos I took of the stones.