Eighth May Generation
Biographical Sketches
Fred T. May - 2002

Thomas May (1787-1867)
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1818 Map of Floyd County | Photos of eight children | Grave site & family tree

- Genealogists -

During the past few years, I have been in contact with 96 descendants of Thomas May and know of a number others who are actively continuing research on their respective family lines. Being one of Thomas' descendants, I am continuing my research for a detailed history of his life and the lives of his children and grandchildren, through the 10th May generation.

A partial list of cousins from this branch of the family who have provided information for my research in recent years includes (in alphabetical order): R. Vaughn Cassell; Edna May Clevinger; Roberta Daws; Mia K. Adkins Fleegel; Emilee Clevinger Jones; Amy Strasser Kistulinec; Eldon J. May; George D. May; Jon May; Nancy May; John Picklesimer; Charles & Pat Prendergast; Virginia Burke May Rhoades; Wanda May Rose; Scott & Ginger May Sanders; Joseph B. Sparks; Sharon L. Sternberg; Martha Hite Tant; and Moya Lear Tsatsos.
Special thanks are also due Sam Hatcher - a great-great-great grandson of Thomas May - who has served for a number of years as president of Friends of the Samuel May House, Inc.

Family of Thomas May | Introduction | The Patton Family | Early Years on Shelby Creek | Early Years of Marriage: 1813-1823 Formation of Pike County: 1821-22 | A Growing Family: 1823-1842 | The Empty Nest: 1842-1860 | The Civil War | Notes

Family of Thomas May
1 Thomas MAY b: 1 Feb 1787 Hampshire Co., VA [now WV] d: 3 Sep 1867 Robinson Cr., KY, buried there across the road from the Post Office age at d: 80
.. +Dorcas PATTON b: 18 Oct 1790 Virginia m: 19 Aug 1813 Pike Co., KY d: 9 Jun 1872 Robinson Cr., KY, buried beside her husband age at d: 81

2 Daniel MAY b: 29 May 1814 d: 3 Dec 1816 age at d: 2

2 Col. Reuben MAY b: 23 Jun 1815 Shelby Creek, Pike Co., KY d: 26 Sep 1902 Vernon County, WI, buried in the Springville Cemetery near Viroqua. age at d: 87
..... +Emmariah (Emma) Virginia HONAKER b: 7 Mar 1820 Pike Co., KY m: 5 Mar 1835 Pike Co., Ky. d: 28 Jan 1881 Viroqua, WI, buried in the Springville cemetery there. age at d: 60
*2nd Wife of Reuben MAY:
..... +Phoebe A. AIKEN b: 4 Jul 1817 m: 28 Feb 1883 d: 6 Oct 1883 Vernon County, WI, buried in the Springville Cemetery near Viroqua. age at d: 66
*3rd Wife of Reuben MAY:
..... +Caroline S. BENNETT b: 26 Mar 1826 Charleston, SC m: 6 Apr 1884 Viroqua, WI d: Jun 1910 Omaha, NE, of pneumonia age at d: 84 est.

2 Thomas Patton MAY b: 3 Aug 1816 Robinson Creek, Floyd (now Pike) Co., KY d: 28 Aug 1910 Pike Co., KY at his farm on Johns Cr.; buried in family cemetery there. age at d: 94
..... +Elizabeth Margery LESLIE b: 8 Jun 1824 Pike Co., KYon Johns Cr. m: 4 Mar 1841 Pike Co., KY d: 19 Jan 1909 Pike Co., KY on Johns Cr.; buried in family cemetery there. age at d: 84

2 Cynthia Patton MAY b: 30 Oct 1817 Robinson Cr., Floyd (now Pike) Co., KY d: 3 Sep 1870 Robinson Cr., Pike Co., KY, buried in the Marrs Cemetery, about one mile below the mouth of this creek. age at d: 52
..... +John MARRS b: 11 May 1814 Tazewell, Co., VA m: 22 Nov 1833 Pike Co., KY d: 22 May 1902 Robinson Cr., Pike Co., KY, buried in the Marrs Cemetery, about one mile below the mouth of this creek. age at d: 88

2 William James MAY b: 9 Jan 1819 Robinson Cr., Floyd Co., KY; (now Pike Co.) d: 2 Jul 1883 Prestonsburg, KY; buried in the May Cemetery on the May farm age at d: 64
..... +Eliza Jane HARMAN b: Virginia m: 17 Jun 1845 Floyd Co., KY d: 6 May 1848 Prestonsburg, KY; buried in the cemetery on the May farm age at d: ?
*2nd Wife of William James MAY:
..... +Cynthia Ann POWERS b: 10 Sep 1832 Salyersville, Floyd Co., Ky. (now Magoffin Co.)
m: 11 Sep 1851 Floyd Co., Ky d: 9 Sep 1907 Prestonsburg, Ky.; buried in May Cemetery next to her husband age at d: 74

2 Samuel MAY b: 17 Apr 1820 Robinson Creek, KY d: 23 Sep 1904 Prestonsburg, KY, buried in the May Cemetery age at d: 84
..... +Mary OSBORN b: 9 Oct 1823 Russell Co, VA, near Castleville m: 9 Mar 1843 Russell Co., VA d: 17 Jun 1909 Prestonsburg, KY, at the home of her son, Bascom May age at d: 85

2 John MAY b: 3 Jun 1821 Robinson Cr., Pike Co., KY d: 23 Jul 1908 Coeburn, VA, where he is buried age at d: 87
..... +Martha Jane OSBORN b: 31 Dec 1826 Castlewood, Virginia m: 1843 Russell Co., VA d: 29 Apr 1891 Coeburn, VA, where she is buried age at d: 64

2 Sarah A. MAY b: 6 Dec 1822 Robinson Creek, Pike Co., KY d: 9 Aug 1914 Hannibal, MO, buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery age at d: 91
..... +William Spencer ADKINS b: Abt. 1809 Floyd Co., KY (now Pike Co.) m: 14 Dec 1839 Pike Co., KY d: Abt. 1871 Harrisonville, MO, buried in Oakland Cemetery age at d: 62 est.

2 Henry MAY b: 2 Mar 1824 Robinson Creek, KY d: 3 Dec 1902 North Tazewell, VA, and buried there in the family cemetery age at d: 78
..... +Rhoda HARMAN b: 4 Nov 1825 m: 20 Oct 1847 Tazewell County, VA d: 7 Sep 1897 North Tazewell, VA, and buried there in the family cemetery age at d: 71

2 Harvey George MAY b: 27 Apr 1825 Robinson Creek, Pike Co. KY d: 5 Feb 1905 Harrisonville, MO, buried in Oakland Cemetery age at d: 79
..... +Louisa ADKINS b: 1 Feb 1827 Pike Co., Ky. m: Abt. 1844 Pike Co., KY d: 15 Sep 1912 Harrisonville, MO, buried in Oakland Cemetery age at d: 85

2 Dorcas MAY b: 1 Sep 1826 Robinson Creek, Pike Co. KY d: Aft. 1914 Harrisonville, MO age at d: 88 est.
..... +Silas W. Robert OWENS b: 1824 Pike Co., KY m: 21 Jul 1847 Pike Co., KY d: Harrisonville, MO

2 David MAY b: 13 Feb 1828 Robinson Creek, Pike Co. KY d: 12 Jun 1864 in the Battle of Cynthania during the Civil War; buried in Battle Grove Cemetery, Cynthiana, KY age at d: 36
..... +Mary Elizabeth BICKLEY b: 24 Mar 1828 Russell Co., VA M: aft 1850 d: 20 Oct 1907 Robinson Creek, Pike Co. KY, buried in the family cemetery near her home. age at d: 79

2 Mary MAY b: 13 Mar 1830 Robinson Creek, Pike Co. KY d: Jan 1911 Auburn, NE, where she is buried age at d: 80 est.
..... +Elias George W. HARMAN b: 28 Aug 1820 Tazewell Co., VA m: Abt. 1847 Pike Co., KY d: 6 Jun 1903 Auburn, NE, where he is buried age at d: 82

Thomas May, the third child of John and Sarah May, should be remembered as the son who stayed on the family homestead on Shelby Creek after his father died in 1813 and cared for his mother and younger brothers and sisters. He was a farmer and land owner who helped establish Pike County and over the years was very generous with his children, seeing that they had land for their own farms. In their later years, he and Dorcas provided care for some of their grandchildren, with particular concern for the well-being of the family of his youngest son, David, who died in service during the Civil War.

Our earliest collection of information on Thomas' family was compiled over a period from the early 1930s to the mid-1950s by a descendant, Mrs. Tress May Francis of Prestonsburg, KY. Thomas' will names all of his children as heirs and we also have confirmation of the names and birth dates of members of his family from the Bible of Garland Hurt, a great-grandson, who was reared by Thomas Patton May on Johns Creek, KY.

Early Years on Shelby Creek
Thomas was thirteen in 1800, when his parents ventured northwest over the mountains from Eastern Tennessee to Shelby Creek in Floyd County, KY, which had recently been formed from Fleming, Mason and Montgomery Counties. He certainly must have had vivid memories of this trek to the valley where he would spend all of the adult years of his life. By 1803-04 his two older brothers had left the May homestead, so at the age of sixteen Thomas became the oldest child living at home.

In 1810 the first U.S. Census for Floyd County was enumerated. It lists eight people living in the household of John May and appears to account for all of the known members of the family that hadn't yet left home. In 1813, when John died, Thomas, at the young age of 26 years, assumed his father's role for the family, especially for his two youngest brothers; twelve year old Reuben and seven year old Tlepolard (Phillip Pollard).

Thomas' 21 year old brother, Daniel, might have been living with his brother, Samuel, soon after their father's death. He was active in Court proceedings in Prestonsburg and was appointed as administrator of their father's estate. [Floyd CountyCourt Book 2: March 28, 1815 session] His two sisters were still living at home, but soon were married: Elizabeth (Betsey), age 23, married James W. Little in June 1813 and Mary (Polly), age 16, married Peyton Justice in July 1814. Sarah signed wedding bonds for both of her daughters and Thomas was a witness on one of them. Betsey lived on an adjacent farm on Shelby Creek for a number of years before her young family migrated to Alabama about 1829. Polly was divorced from Peyton on November 4, 1816 and married John Hamilton by 1817. She and John spent their married lives together in Morgan County, KY in the Licking River Valley.

On August 19, 1813 Thomas married Dorcas Patton, a daughter of James Patton and Florence Graham. Her father's permission and the minister's certification of the marriage are preserved in a Floyd County marriage bond: ". . . the oral consent of James Patton, father of Dorcas Patton, was given in my office the 19th day of August 1813." Their marriage certificate reads:

"This is to certify that the within named Thomas May
and Dorcus Patton was this day joined together
in Marriage by me this 19th Day of August 1813"
-   Simeon Justice

Prior to the marriage, Dorcas lived in the home of her parents in the vicinity of Prestonsburg. Simeon Justice, who lived on the Big Sandy River above the mouth of Shelby Creek, must have come down the river with Thomas for the ceremony, which - according to prevailing customs - would have been performed in the Patton home. Thomas' mother and younger siblings probably accompanied the party on horseback. His brother, Samuel, lived near the Patton farm, so he and his wife were also likely in attendance.

Tress May Francis tells us in her history of the family that after their marriage Thomas took pack horses, traveled 117 miles north to Catlettsburg, KY at the mouth of the Big Sandy River, and carried the goods needed to start housekeeping back to his farm on Robinson Creek fork of Shelby Creek. I have yet to see any evidence that Thomas was living on Robinson Creek when he married, but I am confident he moved there within a few years.

The Patton Family
The Patton family was well established in Floyd County when Dorcas married Thomas May. Born about 1751 in Augusta Co., VA, her father, James Patton, settled first on a tract of land on Peak Creek, a tributary of the New River, in 1771. This land was in the part of Augusta County, VA that had become Botetourt County in 1769. His marriage to Florence Graham is recorded in a writ dated 1773.

James and his brother, Thomas, were "sworn to the State in Capt. McCorkle's Company" of the Montgomery Co. militia in Virginia on Sept. 6, 1777. Numerous records show James buying land and being on the tax rolls of Montgomery and Wythe Co., VA - formed from Montgomery in 1789. [Wythe County Deed Book 1:459-460] In 1795 he and Joseph Patton joined petitioners for the creation of Tazewell County, which was subsequently formed in 1799. James and Florence sold their two tracts of land on Peak Creek in Wythe Co. in December 1796, prior to moving to Eastern Kentucky He is last listed on the tax rolls of Wythe Co. in 1798.

James Patton was one of the first Clerks of Floyd County, serving as early as November 1803. He was appointed Sheriff at the 1809 sitting of the Court and served until December 31, 1810. He is last mentioned in the Floyd County Court records in August 1815, when he and Henry Patton were ordered to mark the road near John Wireman's shoals, a few miles down the Big Sandy River from Prestonsburg. Proof that James is the father of Dorcas Patton is found in his oral consent to the marriage of Thomas and Dorcas. Also the names of her parents are on the shared grave stone of Thomas and Dorcas Patton May.

The only Floyd County census record of the household of James Patton was recorded in 1810. Listed with him are: one female over 45 [his wife, Florence]; two males age 16 to 26 [Samuel and William]; one male age under 10 [?]; two females age 16 to 26 [Jeany and Dorcas]; one female under 10 [Florence]. Other Patton households residing in the county in 1810 were those of James Patton's married sons, Henry, John and Christopher.

Florence Graham was a sister of John Graham (1765-1836), one of the most influential men in Floyd County during the first three decades of the 19th Century. He was a Revolutionary veteran who owned several large parcels of Big Sandy land. During his years as a surveyor, merchant , judge and banker, Graham attained prominence and respect among the people. In the early 1780s, he explored land between Tazewell County, Virginia and Limestone on the Ohio. On May 3, 1797, while he was a deputy surveyor of Mason County, KY, Graham filed "A plan of a town laid off on the North side of Sandy River opposite the mouth of Middle Creek, and to known by the name of Prestonsburg." He laid out the town "by direction of Major Andrew Hood, Matthias Harmon & Solomon Stratton for the adventurers under Colonel John Preston's grant."

James Patton died about 1818, at the age of 67, and Florence Graham Patton died about 1848 at the age of 91.

Early Years of Marriage: 1813-1823 Map of the creeks where the May family lived
During the first ten years of their marriage, Dorcas gave birth to eight children. On May 29, 1814, her first child, Daniel, was born and two and a half years later he died. - the only child of the family who didn't survive childhood. In the meantime, two more sons were born: Reuben on June 23, 1815 and Thomas Patton on August 3, 1816. Their first daughter, Cynthia Patton, was born on October 30, 1817 and three more sons were born by 1821: William James on January 9, 1819; Samuel on April 17, 1820; and John on June 3, 1821. Their second daughter, Sarah, was born on December 22, 1822, so by the end of 1822 there were five boys and two girls under eight years of age living in the home.

The May homestead, where Thomas' family lived, was still located within the boundary of the original Floyd County when his name first appeared as a grantee on a deed. On May 22, 1816, Thomas paid Philip Cole of Botetourt Co., VA $787.50 "good and lawful money of the United States" for 450 acres on Shelby Creek. On September 24th of the same year he paid Robert G. Scott $200 for another 320 acres on Shelby. By this time, his father's estate probably had been settled and he had extra cash for the first time in his life. Thomas' two older bothers, John Jr. and Samuel, also purchased land in Floyd County during this period.

On July 23, 1817, only fourteen months after purchasing 450 acres from Philip Cole, he and Dorcas deeded it back to Cole. The deed from Cole had no mortgage provisions in it, but for some unknown reason it was sold back to him for the same amount Thomas had paid him in 1816. On October 31, 1817 Thomas sold a tract of land on the Licking River to Thomas Rollings. This land must have been part of the inheritance from his father, but a deed for its purchase isn't recorded. It likely was destroyed when the log court house in Prestonsburg burned in 1808.

These four deeds were the only ones recorded to or from Thomas May in Floyd County until twenty-five years later, when he paid-off a number of mortgages on property owned by his brother, Samuel. The total amount of land that Thomas owned by 1818, according to these records, was 320 acres on Shelby Creek, the acreage he purchased from Robert Scott in 1816. Thomas' subsequent land transactions were recorded in Pike County, which was formed in 1821-22. His mother lived for another 30 years, so some of his father's land may have remained in her name.

The 1820 U.S. Census for Floyd County shows Thomas, who was 33 at the time, as the head of a household with a total of eleven members. The other three May families in the 1820 census were those of Thomas' brothers, John (Jr.) and Samuel, who lived near Prestonsburg, and Caleb May [not related], who lived in the Licking River Valley near the site of present-day Salyersville. A neighboring farm to Thomas was owned by his brother-in-law, James W. Little, husband of Betsey, and they had two children in their home - Mary and Thomas May Little, who were born in 1817 and 1819, respectively.

Formation of Pike County: 1821-22
Pike County, named in honor of General Zebulon Pike, was legally established from the large territory of Floyd County by the General Assembly of Kentucky on December 19, 1821. In a meeting at the house of Spencer Adkins on March 4, 1822, the first Justices of the Peace were commissioned and a court was formed for the County of Pike. Spencer Adkins was appointed as clerk of this court and Thomas May was one of six surities for his bond in the amount of 1000 pounds. This meeting was held just below the mouth of Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River.

Three weeks later, the first recommendation for the site of the county seat - Liberty (present-day Garden Village) near Adkins' home - was rejected and a second commission was appointed by the County Court in 1823. On December 24, 1823, "Peach Orchard Bottom" was chosen and Elijah Adkins donated one acre of land as a site for the County Court House. James Honaker surveyed the site on March 23, 1824. The survey map was to contain lot boundaries, streets and alleys for the entire town.

The Court first convened at its new location in May 1824 and appointed three commissioners, John Bevins, Thomas May and William Ferguson, to report on plans to build the first courthouse. It was to be "of hewed logs, 24 ft. square . . . to be a story and a half high covered with shingles. . ." A report with details on the construction materials and furniture for the courthouse was filed six months later by another set of commissioners, Jacob Heabertin, Spencer Adkins and William Ratliff. It appears that the builder was James Honaker. This log structure served the county until the 1880s, when it was replaced by a brick building.

When the first post office was established on August 4, 1825 it was simply named "Pike." In 1829 the post office was renamed "Piketon," and in 1850, two years after the town was incorporated, it was known as "Pikeville." Thomas May served as one of the Trustees of the town, as noted on deeds for 13 town lots in 1827.

The total number of people qualified as voters in 1823 by Spencer Adkins, Clerk of Pike County Court, was 329 - of 354 total taxable persons. Nineteen households of "taxables" are listed as living on Shelby Creek. By local standards, the May households at the time were very prosperous. Thomas May owned the 320 acres he purchased seven years earlier; his brother, Reuben, owned tracts of 200 and 300 acres [the largest holdings on the creek]; and his brother-in-law, James Little, owned 100 acres. Other family groups on the creek owning 100 or more acres were; Adkins, Branham, Bevins, Damron, Mullins, Roberts and Tackett.

Home on Robinson Creek
Most family records say the birthplace of the children of Thomas May was Robinson Creek. However, it is reasonable to assume that he didn't build his home there immediately after his father's death and his marriage to Dorcas Patton in 1813. Being the oldest son at home, he needed to remain to help his mother and younger siblings with the farm. Also, his father's estate was still being settled as late as 1815. As previously noted, Thomas is named on four deeds in Floyd County in 1816 and 1817. Thomas' next deed was recorded in Pike County for 50 acres on Robinson Creek, which he purchased from George Tackett on May 20, 1823 for $250. By this time he had been married almost ten years and had seven children living at home. I postulate that this property became the site of his permanent home. If 1823 is about the time he left the homestead settled by his parents on Shelby Creek and moved further upstream to his new land on Robinson Creek, then Henry May, his ninth child, would have been the first born in the new home.

A Growing Family: 1823-1842
Five more children were born to Thomas and Dorcas between 1822 and 1830: Henry on March 2, 1824; Harvey George on April 27, 1825; Dorcas on September 1, 1826; David on February 13, 1828; and Mary on March 13, 1830 - their last child. During their first seventeen years of marriage, Dorcas gave birth to thirteen children, twelve of whom survived to adulthood.

In the 1830 U.S. Census for Pike County, KY, eighteen people are listed in Thomas May's household. The official totals for the county enumerate 2,677 people. Thomas' brothers, Reuben and Tlepolard (Phillip Pollard), who had lived with him since the time of their father's death in 1813, were no longer in his household. Reuben married Sarah Allen in 1825 and lived on Beaver Creek in Floyd County. Tlepolard might have been one of the males, age 20-30, living in the home of his older brother, Samuel, in Floyd County. He isn't listed as the head of a household in either Pike or Floyd County.

In 1830, at the age of 43, Thomas was in the prime of his life. Dorcas, who was three years younger, had a large family under her care and could depend on the older children to help with the young ones. No one over the age of 50 is listed in the household, so this record doesn't appear to account for his 70 year old mother, Sarah. It is possible she was tallied by error in the age 40-50 column for females in the home. The age ranges of the youngsters in the home match all twelve of their children living at the time. Sarah is assumed to have continued to live in the home, but she was aging and the condition of her health is not known. We know she was living as late as 1848.

Cynthia Patton May was the first of the May children to leave her home on Robinson Creek, when she married John Marrs of Pikeville on November 22, 1833. The next to leave was Reuben, who married Emmariah (Emma) Virginia Honaker of Pikeville on March 5, 1835, and Sarah, who married William Spencer Adkins, from a nearby farm below the mouth of Russell Fork of the Big Sandy, on December 14, 1839.

1835 Tax List
A tax list of Pike County, compiled in the summer of 1835, shows Thomas May as one of the largest landowners in the county. The county was assessed in two districts and Thomas was the only May listed in the first district. The unrelated families of James May and his sons were listed in the second district. Of particular interest to descendants of Thomas May, are land holdings of the Lesley (Leslie), Honaker, Adkins and Marrs families. The Leslie family is descended from William Robert Lesley, the first settler in the region. James Honaker died before this list was compiled, so his extensive estate was in the name of his widow, Louisa Honaker. Between 1823 and 1835 Thomas May had acquired an additional 1,000 acres in Pike County, bring his holdings to 1,320 acres. Only six taxpayers in the county owned over 1,000 acres and none of them owned as much as 1,500 acres.

During the 1830s, Thomas' brother, Samuel, served as a State Representative and State Senator. The most significant service he rendered to his constituents was his campaign for establishing the first State road crossing Eastern Kentucky, beginning at Mt. Sterling and ending at Pound Gap on the Virginia border.

According to Dr. Perry's account: "On January 14th, 1837, Senator Samuel May introduced a bill 'to improve the road from Mount Sterling, by way of Prestonsburg, to the Virginia line.' A month later the bill was passed and signed into law by Governor James Clark. To fund the project, the Assembly appropriated $25,000. According to Mary Verhoeff, the amount actually spent was $23,243.40. The work was performed by local contractors, including Samuel's brother, Thomas May, who was paid $3,000 to improve a seven-mile stretch of the road from Piketon to 'the top of Island Hill.' The greater part of the work consisted of 'grading and draining the worst hills and bridging some of the worst water-courses.' Six bridges were built over the Big Sandy between Piketon and Prestonsburg."

The fourth child to marry was Thomas Patton May, who wed Elizabeth Margery Leslie at her home on Johns Creek on March 4, 1841. Though a farmer, he also served as a Methodist Minister for 60 years and was a trustee of Snively Chapel, built in 1853, which was located near his home on Johns Creek. In 1860, seven years before the death of his father, Thomas P. May's estate was valued at $11,500, which was unusually large for the region.

In 1840, there were thirteen members of Thomas May's family in his household plus four male slaves. Apparently his mother, Sarah was in the home, since there was a female 70 to 80 years old in the household.

The Empty Nest: 1842-1860
By 1842 the estate of Thomas' brother, Samuel, was in disarray. His creditors were demanding payment on numerous loans and mortgages and he turned to Thomas to purchase his farm north of Prestonsburg, "Which includes all the land I own in Floyd County heretofore not sold." Thomas saw this as an opportunity to get a farm for two of his sons, William James, age 23, and Samuel, age 22, and paid $2,250 to cover Samuel's debts to Henry C. Harris and others, with additional reference to some money Thomas had already paid for Samuel's debt to the Bank of Kentucky.

The two young brothers soon moved to the large home on the farm and lived together and worked the land until they both married, at which time they divided the farm. Samuel married Mary Osborn of Russell County, VA on March 9, 1843 and another brother, John, married Mary's sister, Martha Jane Osborn, in the same year. In 1844, Harvey George May married Louisa Adkins. In 1845, William James May became the owner of the large brick home his uncle had built, after he married his first wife, Eliza Jane Harman. She died in 1848, soon after their only child was born, and he married Cynthia Ann Powers three years later. He lived in this home the remaining years of his life.

The next May children to marry were: Dorcas, on July 21, 1847, to Silas W. Robert Owens; Henry, on October 20, 1847, to Rhoda Harman; and Mary, also in 1847, to Elias George W. Harman. The last child to wed was the youngest son, David, who married Mary Elizabeth Bickley soon after 1850.

In 1850, Thomas was listed in the Pike County census at age 63 and Dorcas at age 60. Only one child, David L. age 22, was living at home. Also, some grandchildren were in the household: Adaline, the four year old daughter of William James May and his late wife, Eliza Jane Harmon; and John Little, the son of James W. Little and Betsey May, who had moved from Pike County twenty years earlier. Two young Hambleton (Hamilton) men were laborers on the farm and possibly were also related. The May farm, valued at $6,000, was one of the largest in Pike County.

Thomas and Dorcas were still living in Pike County in 1860 and their estate had grown to a value of $12,400. The household only lists the two of them living together at ages 73 and 70. Obviously, the land was not being farmed by Thomas at his advanced age and the crops were probably tended through leases to farmers in the area.

The Civil War
Perhaps the most difficult period of the life of Thomas May was not the years of hard work clearing the land with his father and brothers in the virgin forests of Shelby Creek, nor the rearing of a large family remote from doctors and the conveniences of life, but instead, must have been the anguish brought on by the Civil War, when he lost his youngest son, David, and had his oldest living son, Reuben, leave his native state, never to return.

Most members of the May family chose to support the Confederacy but, as was common in Kentucky, there were instances of brothers and cousins serving in opposing armies. Examples in the family of Thomas May are illustrated by the following brief accounts of some of his sons and grandsons.

* Reuben May had moved away from the family farm in Pike County a number of years before the outbreak of the Civil War. When the war began, he was living in Clay County, Kentucky near Manchester and owned a successful salt-making business. When Reuben enlisted in the Union Army on September 23, 1861, he was 46 years old. He advanced to become a Colonel in the 7th Kentucky Regiment Union Volunteer Infantry and was engaged in a number of well-known battles of the war including: Perryville, Kentucky in 1862; Stone River, Tennessee in 1863, where he was wounded; the siege at Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1863; Conee Creek, Louisana in 1864; and St. Charles, Arkansas in 1864.

About 1864, Reuben's family moved to Vernon County, WI and after the war he joined them and lived the remainder of his life there. He was the owner of a prosperous 700 acre farm and soon developed an interest in politics. Reuben was a Wisconsin State Representative for two terms and failed by only six votes in an election to the State Senate in 1875. In 1879, at the age of 64, Reuben ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Wisconsin on the Greenback ticket. Again in 1890 he was an unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate from the Union Labor Party.

* Other stories are known about members of the May family being wounded and killed in the Civil War. The most tragic involved the Battle of Cynthiana, Ky., where Thomas lost his youngest son, David, and a grandson, Solomon (the oldest child of Samuel). David served in the Confederate Army in the Civil War after joining on June 1, 1863 at Camp Bowen, Va. He was a Second Sergeant when he was killed on or about June 12, 1864. Family traditions, related by a grandson, Lucien May, say he "was not killed by bullet or sabre, but was drowned in action," and that his widow was denied any benefits "due to the manner of her husband's death." Lucien related that the drowning occurred when a dam for a millpond was blasted open by the Union soldiers. David May's grave is in Battle Grove Cemetery, Cynthiana, KY.

Prior to the war, David was a merchant and a farmer with an estate of $1,800 in 1860. He had been elected as a State Representative from Pike County on August 5, 1861, for the 1861-63 term along with another Southern sympathizer, John M. Elliot of Prestonsburg, who represented Floyd and Johnson Counties. David was expelled on August 29, 1862 for "joining or aiding the Confederate Army."

* Another son, John May, served under the command of his first cousin, Andrew Jackson May and also fought in the Battle of Cynthiana. John was a large land owner in Pike County with as estate of $12,000 in 1860. He advanced to the rank of Captain of a regiment. After the war he served one term as a Kentucky State Representative. John's son, Solomon, also served in the Confederacy and was captured. He then agreed to fight for the Union Army and is said to have received pensions from both sides.

* Another son, Henry May, also served under the command of his first cousin, Andrew Jackson May, and later fought in the Battle of Cynthiana. He was a large land owner in Pike County with an estate of $10,000 in 1860. When his nephew [Samuel's son, Solomon] was killed at the age of 18, Henry took Solomon's horse, rode it throughout the remainder of the war, and then safely returned it home.

Death of Thomas May
Thomas May died on September 3, 1867, at the age of 80. His will, dated July 12, 1865, is filed in Pike County Will Book B:65-66. The administrator was his son, Thomas Patton May, who had the will probated on November 4, 1867.

Death of Dorcas Patton May
After the death of Thomas, Dorcas lived with her son, John, on Robinson Creek. Her daughter-in- law, Mary Bickley May, widow of David, lived on a farm nearby with her seven children. Dorcas died on June 9, 1872, at the age of 82 and is buried beside Thomas on their old homestead near the mouth of Robinson Creek. They now rest in an old cemetery beneath a large marble gravestone, which is located across the highway from the Robinson Creek Post Office.

In her 1956 history of the May family, Tress May Francis compiled 272 pages on Thomas May and his descendants. Francis, Tress May, May Genealogy: Southern Branch with Biographical Sketches: 1776-1956. Unpublished - filed at Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort, KY, 1956.This large source of information is the basis for most of my records on this branch of the family, many of whom still live in Eastern Kentucky.

The text in this section is an abstract from a history I am writing about Thomas' branch of the family.

Most of the records we have of James Patton and his wife are found in a well-researched book by Dr. David Agricola, "Descendants of James and Florence [Graham] Patton." Some contradictory records are found in a book by Mrs. Verle H. Parrish, in which she gives dates of their births and marriage - and the births of some of their children - that are later than Agricola's records.

Only the name of the head of a household was recorded in the U.S. census prior to 1850. Names of residents can only be inferred, based on knowledge of their ages are at the time of the census.

A leather-bound ledger from John Graham's store has been preserved. It lists Thomas, Daniel and Samuel May among his many customers.

Referenced Floyd County Deeds-- Book A:400 - Book A:424 - Book A:493; Book A:514.

There is no supporting evidence that Sarah Phillips May ever retained any ownership of land in Kentucky.

Henry B. Mayo from the Prestonsburg area made his final enumeration of the 1820 Floyd County census on Feb 23, 1821. The total population of this vast region was 7,867 White, 194 Free Colored and 313 Slaves.

We now have new information on the family of James W. and Mary May Little from a book: We, The Little People, Sewell, Juanelle S. - McDowell Publications, Itica, KY, 1987. Sandy was a speaker at the 2002 MAy Family Reunion in Prestonsburg.

Fact on the formation of Pike County from: 150 Years, Pike County, Kentucky: 1822-1972, Sesquicentennial Issue Vol. I, Pike County Historical Society. Roberts, Leonard, Editor of Revised Edition. 1972.

Two of Thomas May's children, Sarah and Harvey George, married children of Spencer Adkins around 1840 and both families later moved to Harrisonville, Missouri. Reuben May, the oldest son of Thomas, married James Honaker's daughter, Emma, in 1835.

Pike County references-- Deed Book A:252 - Order Book 1:78 - Deed Book A:300 & A:303.

The 1835 Pike Co. Tax list was compiled by Dorcas Hobbs from Microfilm. Published in Pike County Historical Papers, Number Six, Pike County Historical Society, 1987.

Dr. Robert Perry gives a full account of the Pound Gap Road on his web site.

Elizabeth Leslie, wife of Thomas Patton May, was the daughter of Allen Leslie and a great-granddaughter of William Robert Leslie, who established the first settlement in present-day Pike County prior to 1790. Thomas Elizabeth probably inherited most of their estate from the Leslie family. A closer look at deeds of the Leslies should shed some light on their land holdings by 1860.
*** At the time of Thomas P. May's death in 1910, he was living with his youngest son, William Reuben May, on the old homestead where he had resided for sixty-three years.
*** Charles & Pat Prendergast of Spring, Texas have researched and documented Thomas Patton May's branch of the family.

Thomas May and Spencer Adkins, reared their families on farms a few miles upstream from Pikeville and had known each other about forty years prior to the marriages of their children in 1839 (William Spencer Adkins to Sarah May) and 1844 ( Harvey George May to Louisa Adkins).

Eliza Jane Harman May was the first family member buried in the May Cemetery, located on the hill behind the Samuel May House in Prestonsburg.

Cynthia Powers (May) was a granddaughter of Archibald Prater, a pioneer of Floyd County in the Licking River Valley,

We know from numerous records that William James May bought and sold many acres of land in Floyd County during his lifetime. He was the County Surveyor for many years, was in the mercantile business at Prestonsburg, and served on the Big Sandy River Improvement Commission in the 1870s. All of his twelve children, one by his first wife and eleven by his second wife, were born in the "Samuel May House." When he died in 1883, his third son - my grandfather, Leonidas Polk May - was seventeen years of age. I donated charcoal portraits of William James and Cynthia Powers May to the Samuel May House. They were displayed for many years in my grandfather's home, where I was reared. A photo of a similar portrait of William James May is in the files of the Zebulon Masonic Lodge No. 273 of Prestonsburg, noting him as their fourth Lodge Master. After his death, two of his sons, Beverly Clark and Lee P., were elected Sheriff of Floyd County and Beverly also served as County Judge. In the 1940s, a grandson, Alex Davidson, was also County Judge of Floyd County.

I haven't determined the respective relationships of the Harman spouses of the May siblings - William James May, Henry May and Mary May.

Sharon L. Sternberg, a descendant, of Marshfield, WI is heading an effort to research and document the life of Col. Reuben May.

Family traditions of the descendants of David May were provided by Nancy May, a great-great granddaughter and an organizer of recent May family reunions. David's grandson, David Darwin May of Prestonsburg, was the first Floyd Countian to enter West Point Military Academy, where he graduated in 1942.

More biographical sketches