William James May and Wife

William James May (1819-1883) and his wife, Cynthia Powers May, owners of the "Samuel May House" for many years. In 1842 his father, Thomas May, paid off some mortgages and saved William's uncle, Samuel, from financial ruin. Initially William and his next youngest brother, also named Samuel, lived in the large home located on the north end of Prestonsburg.

Samuel married Mary Osborn (in 1843) and they continued to live there until William James married Eliza Jane Harman (in 1845) - according to the May genealogist, Tress Francis May. Then they divided the farm, William James taking the part with the brick house, where he lived until his death in 1883. In 1846 Eliza gave birth to a daughter, Adaline Lavolet May. On May 6, 1848 Eliza died and left Willliam with a two-year old child. In 1850, we know that Adalline was living with her grandparents, Thomas and Dorcas May on Robinson Creek in Pike County.

After their marriage in 1851, William and Cynthia raised Adoline and their own eleven children on the May Farm. The family grew with the births of: Emily, 1853; Elizabeth, 1854; Beverly, 1856; Mary, 1858; Thomas, 1860: Ellen, 1861; Laura, 1863; Leonidas, 1865; William, 1867; Cynthia, 1869, and John, 1872. Coming to Floyd County in 1842, William served for many years as county surveyor. He also engaged in real estate speculation, and when he died in 1883 he owned over 10,000 acres. He served on the Big Sandy River Improvement Commission in 1871. Cynthia continued to live in the home until about the time of her death in 1907.

These are my great-grandparents, who are buried in the May Cemetery in Prestonsburg. I have the two original charcoal drawings that are shown above. Each of their children were given their own originals of similar drawings.

Fred T. May

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