Eighth May Generation
Biographical Sketches
Fred T. May - 2002

Phillip Pollard (Tlepolard) May (1805-1839)
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- Genealogists -
He had no known family. The information I have compiled on the last child of John and Sarah Phillips May is repeated from my research as written in The Shoemaker's Children.
Naming Tlepolard May | Floyd and Pike County records | Notes

Phillip Pollard (Tlepolard) May
Phillip Pollard (Tlepolard) MAY b: 26 Jul 1805 Shelby Cr., Floyd Co., KY [now Pike Co.] d: Abt. 1839 Pike Co., KY.  age at d: abt. 34

Naming Tlepolard May
Though we don't know much about Tlepolard May, we do have a faint handwritten scrap of paper telling of the origin of his name. This paper was included among documents submitted by his mother in 1845, when she applied for a widow's pension for John's service in the Revolutionary War. A transcription is shown below, with a facsimile of the original handwriting from of the last line. It tells of the birth of the youngest child of John and Sarah. It probably was written by John, possibly giving us some direct proof of his literacy. Note that he gave "son" an English spelling, but used a capital German "S."

"Tlepolard May the son of John May and Sarah May born in the year o f [our] Lord one thousand eight hundred and five July the twenty sixth was born the fourteenth year of the Commonwealth of Kentucky
Whose name was taken from Homer
Tlepolard the son of Hercules and King Rodiah or Rodes"


 A sample of John May's handwriting.

In a translation of Homer's "The Iliad," a collection of twenty-four poems, we find the reference John made to the Greek character, Tlepolard. With the benefit of an index and a comprehensive pronouncing glossary, the brief but heroic story of "Tlepolemus" (tle-po -le-mus), is found in a modern printing of Homer's Book 2: "The Great Gathering of Armies." The death of Tlepolemus is told in Homer's dramatic style in Book 5: "Diomedes fights the Gods." Tlepolemus, a grandson of Zeus, the King of Gods, fell in mortal combat with Sarpedon, a son of Zeus.

We don't know if John had a copy of "The Iliad" in his possession, or if he simply recalled the names and the story of these heroic characters from Homer's classic poems of the Greek and Trojan Wars. It is most likely that John's version of the story was from a German translation, perhaps passed down from his father. This might explain the spelling of the hero from the story as Tlepolard instead of Tlepolemus. The reference to "Hercules," another mythical character, instead of Heracles as the father of Tlepolemus might lead us to believe that John didn't have a book to refresh his memory of the characters in the Greek myths.

Floyd and Pike County records
When Tlepolard was born in 1805, his two oldest brothers, John and Samuel, had already moved away from the May homestead on Shelby Creek. He was only seven years old when his father died in January 1813. Afterward, he was reared by his mother in the home of his brother, Thomas, on Shelby Creek and Robinson Creek. His brother, Reuben, probably was his closest friend and he soon got to know his nephews and nieces as they were born to the families of Thomas May and Elizabeth (Betsey) May Little. By the time Tlepolard was twenty in 1825, Thomas had nine children in his home under the age of twelve and - living nearby - Betsey had three children. His sister, Mary, was living a number of miles away in Morgan County, so he likely had very little, if any, contact with them as he grew to manhood. Reuben was married in November 1825 and left the Shelby Creek area to live on Beaver Creek before 1830.

Tlepolard was sixteen when Pike County was formed from Floyd County in March 1822. This is probably when he first became aware of the workings of the local government and learned of the involvement Thomas had is helping establish the new county seat of Pikeville. A gleaning of deeds in county records gives us a brief glimpse of some of his activities. On November 14, 1824, he was named on two deeds as "Till Pollard May," when he witnessed the purchase of parcels of land on Shelby Creek from Crabtree Price of Russell CO., VA by his brothers, Thomas and Reuben. [Pike County Deed Book A:126 & A:127]

In 1829, Tilpolard purchased 50 acres at the mouth of Mud Creek in Floyd County from Rhodes Mead (in the name of Pollard May) and 50 acres on Hurricane Creek in Pike County from Turner Branham (in the name of Till Pollard May). As far as I have determined, this appears to have been the extent of his land dealings. [Floyd County Deed Book C:175 & Pike County Deed Book A1:55]

We know of Tilpolard's death before 1839 from a Commissioner's deed decreed in the May 1839 term of the Pike Circuit Court, naming: "Thomas May, Samuel May, Ruben May, John May, Daniel May, Polly Hamilton (formerly Polly May) & John Hamilton (her husband), Elizabeth Little (formerly Elizabeth May) & James Little (her husband), only Brothers and Sisters of Tilpollard May, deceased. . ."  [Pike County Deed Book B:75] This document also confirms the names of the eight children of John and Sarah May. The property that was probated in Pike County Court and deeded by the heirs to James Damron was the 50 acres Tilpolard had owned on Hurricane Creek, a tributary of Shelby Creek, since 1829. It is possible that he lived on this land, but there are no known records to prove it. This document is also the last record we have of his brother, Daniel, who appears to have left Eastern Kentucky before 1830.

The pension application by Sarah Phillips May, Tlepolard's mother, is Revolutionary War Pension File: R. 7056.

Family records also list the name "Phillip Pollard" for this son, and suggest that he may have been named for Sarah's mother - thought to have been a Pollard. Pike County Deeds also list his name as Tilpolard and Tillpolard.

"Iliad" means a poem about Illium (Troy). For centuries, these poems were passed down in oral form. The first printed edition of Homer's compilation of these poems was issued in Florence in 1488, soon after the invention of movable type by Gutenberg.

Copies of the Bible and some of the Classics, such as the works of Homer, were often the only literature found in homes on the frontier.

It appears from Thomas May's deeds that he probably moved his family to Robinson Creek about 1823, the year that Tlepolard celebrated his eighteenth birthday.

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