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Samuel M. May
(1839-1926)

 

Samuel M. May

Samuel M. May was born on March 15, 1839 in Juniata Township, Bedford County, PA, the son of Leonard and Maria "Catherine" (Younkin) May. He grew up with boyhood friends who later served with him in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Samuel stood 5 feet, 7½ inches tall, with a dark complexion, dark eyes and dark hair.

On March 7, 1867, when he was 27 years of age, he married Mariah Amanda Barbara Beltz (April 11, 1844-1906). Justice of the peace David Miller performed the ceremony. In an interesting twist, Samuel's sister Louisa married Maria's brother Oliver Beltz.

The couple produced nine offspring, among them Alice Augusta Holler, Calvin Samuel May, Charles M. May, Harvey J. May, Anna "Annie" Darrah/Darr, Norman L. May, James Abram Garfield May, William H. May and others who died before 1926.

Daniel's home at the time of enlistment was Dry Ridge near Buffalo Mills, Bedford County. He and four of his brothers joined the Union Army during the war, "rallying promptly to the call for troops to preserve the Union," said the Meyersdale Republican. He enrolled for a three-year period on Aug. 22, 1861 and was assigned to the 2nd Potomac Home Brigade, Company H. But after only five months, he deserted and went back home. Back on the family farm, he and Jacob Hardman labored in the fields.

Not long afterward, he went to Harrisburg and mustered in during the month of August 1862 with the 138th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, where "all my friends were in Company F," he later wrote. He is known to have bunked with William Beltz for part of the time.

At some point, his right knee was thrown out of joint when he mis-stepped near Relay House, MD, a transportation hub along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. There, he also contracted a case of typhoid fever.

When President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation pardoning deserters if they would return to their regiments, Samuel took the advice of his commanding officers Capt. John W. Fike and Major May to leave the 138th Pennsylvania and rejoin his original unit, the Potomac Home Brigade. He did so on March 31, 1863, after being stripped naked and examined head to toe by army surgeons, who pronounced him as sound in health. He told his new commanding officer that he had gone home because of illness. Shortly afterward, while stationed at Romney, WV, he contracted the measles.

 

Above: emaciated Union prisoners at Andersonville. Below: the sprawling, filthy Andersonville prison. Famous Leaders and Battle Scenes of the Civil War.

 

Then on Jan. 3, 1864, a supply train he was guarding between Keyser and Moorefield Junction, WV, was overrun and captured. The Confederates shipped him to a series of prisons -- among them Pemberton Prison, Scott's Prison and Belle Isle in Richmond. At Belle Isle, he had no shelter protecting him from rain and snow, and he contracted rheumatism. "Often my clothing was frozen to the ground at night while I slept," he recalled.

He then went to the Confederacy's notorious prison camp at Andersonville, GA, where was stricken with diarrhea and pain in his legs. To walk, he used a stick as a type of cane. His only shelter was a hold he dug in a small bank of earth, where he slept on brush and rubbish. Friend John Holler said he "looked like a skeleton." He occasionally saw his friends Joseph M. Furstenburg and John Pelton. Sadly, his bunkmate William Beltz and friend John Merrine (spelling?) died there as prisoners. He thence was shifted to Florence, SC and after a short time was paroled -- having been held for six months -- and exchanged at Savanna, GA.

Some six-plus decades after the war's end, the Republican summarized his military career this way:

Samuel May was a good soldier, and during the years he was in the army saw much hard service... After two years of service he was taken captive, and after being confined in Belle Isle and Libby prisons for a short time, he was transferred to that hell on earth known as the Andersonville prison, where he suffered from hunger and hellish treatment for a year and three days. The happiest moment of his life, Mr. May used to say, was when the news came to him that the war was over. He was always popular among his army comrades, and also numbered many other people among his personal friends, as he was a man of genial disposition, who readily made friends wherever he went.

He received an honorable discharge in Baltimore on Feb. 27, 1865 and returned to Bedford County. En route, in the snow, he stopped at the home of his friends, the Brants, at Buffalo Mills. The Brants' son Josiah brought Samuel home "one mile and one half on my Horse," Josiah recalled. "He could not walk. He was verry poor and weak..." Josiah also noted that "he was nothing but a mere skeleton -- he was so very weak seemed to be full of pain -- said his bones all hurt him -- his eyes were sunk in his head."

Upon arriving at home, Samuel's father took him in a buggy to see their family physician, Dr. John C. Ealy, of Schellsburg, Bedford County.

 

Prescription from Dr. Weller of Hyndman, filled at the Rhodes Drug Store

 

Circa 1868, Samuel hired local day laborer Josiah Corley to help dig a cellar for a dwelling house. Corley observed that Samuel "was not able to do much, and he then was suffering with Rheumatism, and apparently was very much cripled up on acount of Rheumatism." Corley continued to provide Samuel with labor over the next few years. Neighbor and fellow army veteran George W. Holler once wrote that the first time they met at home after the war, Samuel "was suffering with Rheumatism  and nearly ever time they would meet he complained of suffering with Rheumatism and was unable to work, that [Samuel] walked with a cane and suffering with Rheumatism in his hips, limbs and at time all through him..." Jeremiah Snyder, who also worked for Samuel at times, said that he "heard him frequently complain of suffering with Rheumatism, saw him that he was scarcely able to get out of bed in the morning, and unable to perform manual labor for two and three days at a strech."

In 1870-1880, he and Mariah were farmers and resided next to his parents’ home in Juniata Township. Later, for many years, the Mays made their home at Boynton, Somerset County. In older age, they lived in Sand Patch, Summit Township, Somerset County.

 

Letter Samuel sent to the Secretary of the Interior, on stationery of a local business, asking for an increase in his pension.

Samuel was granted a military pension as compensation for his wartime suffering. [Invalid App. #244.191 - Cert. #167.104] But when he applied for an increase in monthly pension payments, the government had questions about his desertion and his claims of rheumatism. Several investigators were dispatched to secure his testimony and that of others who were familiar with the facts. In 1899, one investigator wrote that Samuel "is very nervous, has flushed face, is evidently today in pain in his limbs, is not emaciated."

Circa 1890-1891, for about a year, he kept a boarding house at Greensburg, Westmoreland County, PA.

Census records for 1900 show Samuel and Maria in Boynton, Elk Lick Township, Somerset County, with four sons, grandson Samuel "Ross" Darrah (born July 1893) and boarder Albert Rob in the household.

Noted the Republican, Samuel "was a man of rugged health during most of his long life, and was a member of a family noted for longevity." But as he aged, he was burdened with heart and kidney disease.

The early years of the 1900s were filled with heartbreak. In 1901, son Harvey, a 27-year-old coal miner, was shot and killed by a police officer in Salisbury, Somerset County, after a night of drinking and near-rioting, while son Calvin and possibly also son James were wounded. The news was printed in newspapers all throughout the state, and the policeman was exonerated after a coroner's inquest. Some 50 family and friends escorted the remains back to Bedford County, where they were placed into rest in the Trinity Reformed Church, today's Trinity United Church of Christ, on Dry Ridge.

Not allowing the matter to rest, Samuel received the clothing that his son had been wearing, and he and his family "made a closer examination," reported the Republican. "They found that while there was a bullet hole in his coat and shirt at the point just just below the shoulder in the back, and a hole in the shirt in front, they could not find any in the coat, and they determined upon having the remains disinterred and another examination made."

Two local men -- a physician and an undertaker -- were authorized to do so. Their study of the corpse found that "the bullet entered at a  point just below the shoulder blade and passed clear through the body, coming out in front." Since the evidence contradicted the oral testimony, Samuel then traveled to Somerset to swear out a warrant for arrest of the shooter, J.R. Joy, the acting chief of police in Salisbury. Joy gave himself up and was jailed, with a bail set by the county court at $2,000.

Within a short time, son Calvin was arrested at Salisbury for his role in "assault and battery with attempt to hill," said the Press. His bond was set at $500.

The Mayses engaged the services of well-known Bedford attorney and politician Major Robert C. McNamara to represent their interests in in the prosecution of the trial. Serving as co-counsel was Gen. W.H. Koontz. Serving as defense counsel were Coffroth & Ruppel, F.J. Kooser and J.C. Lowry. On Dec. 19, 1901, the Republican related that the trial had begun and taken three full days. "A great many witnesses have been subpoenaed by both sides and a great deal of itnerest is manifested in this part of the county over the result," said the article. "The witnesses have all been heard on both sides and the lawyers are having their say to-day."

 

Marker for Samuel, Maria and Harvey, Dry Ridge Trinity United Church of Christ

The jurors all were from Somerset County, and Samuel must have felt that Providence dealt him a serindipitous blessing when one of them turned out to be distant cousin Benton Younkin, son of David and Maria Sophia (Culver) Younkin of New Centerville. The other jurors were Cyrus Berkebile of Shade; Edward Bowmaster, William Musser and J.C. Werner of Brothersvalley; Philip Getz of Southampton; Samuel Hoffmeyer of Larimer; Jacob Phillippi of Upper Turkeyfoot; J.P. Rayman of Stonycreek; Valentine Sass of Greenville; John Uphouse of Milford; and James A. Wilkins of Addison.

Just before Christmas 1901, the jury acquitted the policeman after three hours of deliberation. The Republican reported at length on the ruling, stating:

The verdict was no surprise, and was what had been anticipated by those who had heard the trials of P.L. Livengood, editor of the Salisbury Star, and Policeman Joy, of the same place, against Calvin May, a brother of the deceased, he having been found guilty on two charges that had been preferred [sic] against him. The judge was very lenient with the latter gentleman, and he was let off with giving bond for his good behavior in the future and paying the costs in these cases, which were considerable, but under the charges upon which he was convicted he could have been sent to the penitentiary for a term of years, and the judge was undoubtedly prompted to do as he did by a feeling of pity and compassion for the family, and we have as yet to hear anyone find fault with him for doing so, and it is the best ending that could have been given under the circumstances. Calvin May, who was the prime cause of all this trouble and anguish to himself, his parents and friends, should learn a life lesson from this terrible affair, and it now remains to be seen whether he will profit by it. We trust that he may do so, for when he is not in liquor he is and always was a good, hard-working citizen, who was always ready to aid a friend in trouble, and who has been his own worst enemy.

The Mays' lives returned to a brief period of quiet in the aftermath. In 1906, Maria began to suffer with diabetes insipidus, a rare disorder where the body cannot process fluids which leads to excessive thirst and the urge to urinate. After enduring the illness for 40 days, she passed into eternity on April 18, 1906, just a week after her 62nd birthday. Son James, of Boynton, was the informant for the death certificate. Burial was beside her ill-fated son Harvey at Trinity on Dry Ridge, referred to on the death certificate as "Buffalo Mills."

But the Angel of Death continued to cut away at the family later that year. In August 1906, Samuel's 13-year-old grandson Samuel "Ross" Darr/Darrah burned to death while at play, trying to light  coal mining explosive powder.

Samuel survived his wife by two decades. Census records for 1910 list the 68-year-old residing on the property of Jacob R. and Annie S. (Ohler) Crissey in Fairhope Township, Somerset County, and providing labor for odd jobs. In 1911, his post office was in Meyersdale.

Samuel died in or near Sand Patch at the age of 87 years, five months and 20 days on either Sept. 5, 1926. Reported the Republican, "his remains were taken to his native county and interred in Dry Ridge cemetery, near Buffalo Mills. The obsequies were conducted by Rev. H.M. Couchenour pastor of the Berlin and Salisbury M.E. congregation." He was survived by 16 grandchildren. Son Calvin signed his official Pennsylvania certificate of death.

 

Lincoln Highway approaching Schellsburg, Bedford County

 

~ Daughter Alice "Augusta" (May) Holler ~

Daughter Alice "Augusta" May (1866-1955) was born on Dec. 9, 1866 (or 1867) in Bard, Bedford County.

She married Albert "Ross" Holler (June 19, 1861-1934), son of Washington and Louise (Metzger) Holler of Bedford County.

Their known offspring were James Holler, Leona Wolf Bolin, Alice Corley (or "Curley"), Amanda Johnston, Clara Warnick, Anna Barker, Ernest Holler and Hiram Holler.

They lived in Elk Lick Township, Somerset County in 1920 and in Boynton, Elklick Township, Somerset County in 1926. Ross was a longtime coal miner in and around Somerset County.

Sadly, stricken with gangrene of his left leg and foot, Ross died on Jan. 27, 1934 at the age of 71.

Alice outlived her husband by more than two decades. She resided in 1942-1946 in Cornville, AZ. Upon reaching the age of 80, she was profiled in the Meyersdale Republican, which said she "is in a remarkable state of preservation for one of her years, as well as being in possession of all her faculties. When at home she drives her own automobile, and has a record during the past ten years of having visited in 21 of the 48 states, besides having toured in many of the districts and cities of the Dominion of Canada. Mrs. Holler hopes yet to add considerably to the list of states visited if her health will permit."

She eventually returned to live in Boynton.

At the age of 88, widowed, she bore heart disease and died on Jan. 3, 1955. Funeral services were held in the home of her son Ernest in Boynton, officiated By Rev. Wilson E. Kelley. Her remains were lowered into eternal repose in the Salisbury IOOF Cemetery. An obituary in the Republican said she was survived by 14 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and seven great-great grandchildren.

Son James A. Holler (1902- ? ) was bon in about 1902. At age 18, he lived at home and worked in local coal mines. He eventually relocated to Arizona and dwelled in the town of Saligman in 1946. By 1955, he was in Central Point, OR and by 1967 had moved again to Wedderberg, OR.

Daughter Leona Holler (1904- ? ) was born in about 1904. She was joined in marriage with (?) Wolf (circa 1934) and later with (?) Bolin ( ? - ? ). She migrated to Arizona, in the town of Cornville, and provided a home for her widowed mother in the 1940s. She later moved to the Pacific Northwest and lived in 1967 in Wedderberg, OR.

Daughter Alice Holler (1906- ? ) was born in about 1906. She wedded Guy Corley ( ? - ? ), son of William Corley of Boynton. The couple bore one son, Clyde Corley. They moved to Akron, OH, where she made family clothes, despite never having had a formal education. In 1950, she won an Akron Beacon Journal prize for sewing, based on a submission of boys' pants. The following year, she entered with a dress and coat she had created for herself, and was pictured in the newspaper. "Her two-piece dress if of gray chambray," said the Beacon Journal. "The blouse is decorated with navy blue embroidered flowers. Her short coat is of gray all-wool material." They remained in Akron for decades.

Daughter Amanda Holler (1908- ? ) was born in about 1908. She wedded (?) Johnston.

Daughter Annie Holler married (?) Barker and resided in Johnstown, Cambria County.

Daughter Clara Holler ( ? - ? ) married (?) Warnick and lived in Boswell, Somerset County in 1955.

Son Ernest C. Holler (1897-1967) was born in about 1897. He was twice married. His first wife was Elizabeth W. Diehl ( ? - ? ). His second bride was Grace (Baer) Diehl ( ? - ? ). In all, he had seven children -- William A. Holler, James Robert Holler, Jane C. Cochrane, Doris Mae Lowery, Peggy Holler, Barry Holler and Dwight Holler. They lived for years in Boynton, Somerset County. Ernest was a veteran of World War I. He was a member of the Earl H. Opel Post of the American Legion in Salisbury and belonged to the local Veterans of Foreign Wars in addition to the Minnequa Club of Shippensburg, PA. Ernest died at home at the age of 71 on Feb. 19, 1967. Rev. William A. Cassidy led the funeral service, with burial in the Salisbury Odd Fellows Cemetery, and an obituary printed in the Meyersdale Republican.

  • Grandson William A. Holler lived in Somerville, NJ.
  • Grandson James Robert Holler resided in West Salisbury, Somerset County.
  • Granddaughter Jane C. Holler married (?) Cochrane. Her home was in Boynton.
  • Granddaughter Doris Mae Holler wedded (?) Lowery. She dwelled in Carlisle, PA.
  • Granddaughter Peggy Holler
  • Grandson Barry Holler
  • Grandson Dwight Holler

Son Hiram Holler (1912- ? ) was born in about 1912. His home in 1946 was in Oregon and in 1967 in California. In 1955, when his mother died, the obituary reported that Hiram's address was unknown.

 

~ Daughter Ida May ~

Daughter Ida May (1868- ? ) was born in about 1868. She is believed to have died young.

 

~ Son Calvin Samuel May ~

Son Calvin Samuel May (1870-1958) was born on May 25, 1870 in Bard, Bedford County.

Unmarried at age 30, he lived at home in 1900 and earned a living as a coal miner, making his home in Boynton with his brother and fellow coal miner Harvey and friend named Carpenter. On the night of July 13, 1901, he and his brothers Harvey and James and friend Carpenter went drinking at the Hay Hotel barroom in Salisbury, a small town six miles south of Meyersdale. Reported the Pittsburgh Daily Post, the community was "terrorized" by these "drunken men" when assaulting a newspaper editor in the saloon. A police officer was called, a chase ensued, and brother Harvey was shot dead by a policeman's bullet. Calvin was carrying a beer bottle, which was shattered by another bullet, "making a wound in his hip that was very trifling," reported the Meyersdale Republican.

While the sensational news of his brother's killing was publicized statewide, Calvin also was named in stories appearing in the Brockway Record, Lykens Register and Bedford Gazette, among others. On Sept. 14, 1901, a warrant was sworn for his arrest, alleging "assault and battery with attempt to kill." He now had become the focus of intense public scrunity, and again his name was published in news stories. He surrendered to the justice of the peace in Salisbury, and his bail was set at $500. He went to trial, and was convicted of two counts of the charges.

Then, just before Christmas, the trial of the killer of Calvin's brother was held, and lasted three days. The jury voted for acquittal. The Republican reported at length on the ruling, stating:

The verdict was no surprise, and was what had been anticipated by those who had heard the trials of P.L. Livengood, editor of the Salisbury Star, and Policeman Joy, of the same place, against Calvin May, a brother of the deceased, he having been found guilty on two charges that had been preferred [sic] against him. The judge was very lenient with the latter gentleman, and he was let off with giving bond for his good behavior in the future and paying the costs in these cases, which were considerable, but under the charges upon which he was convicted he could have been sent to the penitentiary for a term of years, and the judge was undoubtedly prompted to do as he did by a feeling of pity and compassion for the family, and we have as yet to hear anyone find fault with him for doing so, and it is the best ending that could have been given under the circumstances. Calvin May, who was the prime cause of all this trouble and anguish to himself, his parents and friends, should learn a life lesson from this terrible affair, and it now remains to be seen whether he will profit by it. We trust that he may do so, for when he is not in liquor he is and always was a good, hard-working citizen, who was always reado to aid a friend in trouble, and who has been his own worst enemy.

At the age of about 30, Calvin was joined in the bonds of marital wedlock with Helen (1879- ? ). Her maiden name is not yet known, and she may have been married once previously.

The only known son borne to their union was Paul May.

Their home in 1920 was Casselman, Somerset County, where Calvin worked as a coal miner.

Circa 1921, Calvin provided care for his aged father. He wrote an affidavit on the father's behalf, related to his Civil War pension, stating that he was his father's "attendant. When necessary he leads claimant to stool and helps in various ways like must be done around sickly people; that claimant suffers much from a variety of ailments, principally rheumatism, kidney trouble, chronic diarrhea and rupture; claimant has so much annoyance with frequent visitation of stool at nights; claimant hearing is much impaired and his eyesight is bad; claimant is shaky, nervous and it goes hard for him to walk without being led; claimant is generally broken down hysically and gradually on the decline -- spends nearly all of his time in the home because unable to go about much if so wished."

In the mid-1920s they lived Larimer Township, Somerset County. U.S. Census records for 1930 show the Mayses in Stonycreek Township, with him continuing his labors as a coal miner, and no children under their roof. They lived in Holsopple in 1944 and by 1946 had migrated to Flat Rock, MI.

He eventually returned to his native Somerset County and in 1958 resided on Salisbury Street in Meyersdale, Somerset County.

He suffered cardiovascular problems and his late 80s fractured his right femur. He died on Aug. 14, 1958 in Meyersdale Community Hospital, at the age of 88. Interment was in Salisbury IOOF Cemetery, with Rev. Paul L. Westcoat, of St. John's Reformed Church, preaching the funeral service. An obituary in the Meyersdale Republican said that "His wife preceded him in death and he is survived only by two brothers." His grave marker is inscribed "Brother" at the top.

Son Paul May (1908- ? ) was born in about 1908. His fate seems to be lost to history.

 

~ Son Charles M. May ~

Son Charles M. May (1871-1975) was born on March 1, 1872 in Bard, Bedford County.

In about 1900, when he was 29 years of age, he was united in wedlock with Ora B. Hay (Dec. 8, 1873-1973), daughter of Calvin and Crucilla (Devore) Hay, and a native of Ottawa, KS. They remained together for 73 years until cleaved apart by death.

Charles worked as a barber at the time of marriage, and the newlyweds first made a home in Salisbury, Elk Lick Borough.

The couple bore at least two known children -- Iola Lydick and Dixie Otto. Others who may have been children or step-children were Ruby Uncapher, Lester Shaw and Charles Shaw.

They dwelled in Jenner, Somerset County circa 1910, with Charles continuing to earn a living as a barber. Then in Casselman, Somerset County in 1920, Charles operated a coal mine. Later, they moved back to Salisbury and were members of St. John's United Church of Christ. At one point, Charles was elected Mayor of Salisbury. He also was a president of the Salisbury Lions Club and was active in a wide variety of community volunteer groups.

The federal census of 1930 shows Charles' occupation as a house painter. He belonged to the Masons, and was a member for 50 years.

In 1970, they received a visit from cousins Walter Franklin and Helen Ruth (Miller) Robertson, he the son of Louisa Catherine (May) Robertson and grandson of Silas and Anna Elizabeth (Shirer) May. Helen later wrote about the visit in her 1989 book entitled The Robertson and May Families: with Allied Families.

Ora died at home at the age of 99 on Aug. 14, 1973. Rev. David E. Fetter led the funeral service, with burial in Salisbury Cemetery. An obituary was printed in the Meyersdale Republican.

Charles outlived his wife by two years and reached the remarkable age of 103, "believed to be the oldest resident of Somerset County," reported the Republican. He died at home on March 25, 1975.

Daughter Iola May (1910-1998) was born on April 21, 1910 in Boynton, Somerset County. She wedded Dale W. Lydick ( ? -1988), son of Smith E. and Edith (Walker) Lydick of Plumville. They did not reproduce. Iola was a self-employed beautician. Dale earned a living as a machine operator with Helen Mining Company. He served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II. While in Salisbury, they were members of the St. John's United Church of Christ. They moved to Homer City, PA, where they spent many years and are known to have been living in 1973. While in Homer City, they belonged to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion and Auxiliary. By the late 1980s, they were back in Salisbury. Both Dale and Iola died within nine months of each other, Dale on Jan. 12, 1988 in Cumberland, MD and Iola on Sept. 26, 1988 in Meyersdale. Rev. Steven Heatwole officiated at both of their funerals, with burial in Salisbury Cemetery. Obituaries for each appeared in the Somerset Daily American.

Daughter Dixie May married (?) Otto. Her home was in Springs, PA in 1973.

Step(?)daughter Ruby (1913-1982) was born in 1913. She married Robert L. Uncapher (1904-1994). They established a residence in Detroit and were there in 1980. Ruby passed away in 1982. Her remains were placed into rest in Westmoreland County Memorial Park in Greensburg, PA. Robert outlived her by a dozen years and succumbed to death in 1994.

Step(?)son Lester Shaw ( ? - ? ) dwelled in Clarksville, Washington County, PA in 1980.

Step(?)son Charles F. Shaw (1923-1980) was born on March 20, 1923 in Somerset, the son of Leonard and Minnie (Bowman) Shaw. He married Fay Kacher and they resided in Clarksville, Washington County, PA. The children born to this union were Charles E. Shaw, James A. Shaw, Marie Skobel, Diane Shaw and Marsha Shaw. Charles died at the age of 57 on May 30, 1980, while a patient in West Virginia University Medical Center. Burial was in Greene County Memorial Park in Waynesburg.

 

~ Son Harvey J. May ~

Son Harvey J. May (1873-1901) was born on July 22, 1873.

He and his brother Calvin both worked as coal miners circa 1900-1901 for the Duncombe & Hocking coal mine at Boynton. Evidence suggests that they lived in company housing in Boynton, located a little more than a mile from the town of Salisbury, Somerset County. They were good friends with another Boynton man, Mr. Carpenter. Harvey was considered hard-working by his co-workers, and was "very well known in this city," said the Meyersdale Republican. He was a member of Local Union 28 of the United Mine Workers of America.

Harvey made news in the spring of 1901 when he and others got into a fight, with the incident reported on the pages of the Salisbury Star newspaper by its editor P.L. Livengood. The reporting rankled Harvey. But it was only a hint of much worse which was to come.

 

The twice-buried Harvey rests with his parents under this marker, Dry Ridge Trinity Cemetery

Tragically, just a few months later, he lost his life in a shooting at the age of 28. On the night of July 13, 1901, he and his brothers Calvin and James and friend Carpenter went drinking at the Hay Hotel barroom in Salisbury. Reported the Pittsburgh Daily Post, the community that night became:

...terrorized ... by a gang of drunken men ... [who] picked a quarrel with P.L. Livingood. The bartender called in Policeman [J.R.] Joy, who drove the crowd into the street, but when he attempted to arrest them he was knocked down and severely beaten with beer glasses and brass knuckles. Managing to get hold of his revolver the policeman fired five shots into the crowd. Harvey May was shot through the heart expiring instantly. A ball struck a beer glass in the pocket of Calvin May, Harvey's brother and glanced, while another brother, James May, was shot through the calf of the leg. Another man had two ribs broken.... An inquest was held over the remains of the dead, but no verdict was rendered. The body was taken to May's homke at Boynton this afternoon.

The local newspaper, the Meyersdale Republican, called it "a most deplorable affair ... in which the life of a young man was instantly wiped out." It elaborated further on the bad blood between Harvey and the editor, saying that on the night of the incident, Livengood:

...was in the bar room, and May called him to one side and commenced to take him to task for what he had said. Livengood told him he did not wish to talk to him about the affair, when, the witnesses state, May grabbed Livengood by the shirt collar. There was a short scuffle in which Livengood got away and went directly before the burgess and swore out a warrant for May's arrest. This was given to Policeman Joy to serve. In the mean time Conkstable Barney Krause had come in to the bar room and tried to quiet affairs when Carpenter grabbed him and backed him up against a wall and was choking him. Pliceman Joy came in at this time and started to arrest May, when he was obliged to go to the aid of Krause. From the evidence given before the coroner's jury it would see that after a tussle in the bar room the two May's and Carpenter got away from the officeres and started up the stairway leading up through the office on the second floor. Policeman Joy then went out the bar room door and around the hotel and met them in fron to fthe hotel where witnesses state all three attacked him. They got him down, took his mace away from him and were beating him, when he called for help, which was heard clear to the Merchant's store, but no one went to his assistance. He managed to get away from them so he could pull his revolver, at which all three started to run.

Once struck by the bullet, Harvey could only call out "I am shot." He was carried to the office of Dr. Lichty, but died before the physician could provide help. Said the Republican, "the bullet had entered his chest at the side and had severed the main artery to his heart, but the bullet was not found, but another bullet fell out of his clothes on the floor when they unfastened them." A coroner's inquest was held, involving citizens Charles S. Beals, Casper Wahl, Stephen R. McKinley, John J. Livengood, C.A. Wilt and John W. Ringler. The jurors ruled that policeman Joy had fired his gun "while carrying out his official duties, and that in doing so he was fully justified."

News of the tragedy was covered throughout the state in papers such as the Connellsville Weekly Courier, Brockway Record and Newport News.

The Republican further reported that Harvey had been "highly spoken of by his employer and his fellow workmen, and his tragic death is a terrible blow to his parents, relatives and friends.... It is a terrible affair and the bereaved family have the sympathy of the entire public in their terrible affliction and bereavement."

Harvey's remains were lowered into eternal repose in the cemetery of Trinity Reformed Church, today's Trinity United Church of Christ, on Dry Ridge. Some 50 family and friends escorted the body to the graveyard. As an expression of their grief, his fellow members of the United Mine Workers printed a resolution of respect in the Republican, saying that their charter would be "draped in mourning for a pierod of thirty days and a copy of these resolutions be presented to the bereaved family and that we tender them our heartfelt sympathy." The resolution was signed by C.L. Walker, A.B. Robertson and J.E. Garber.

Several days later, the story took another turn when Harvey's parents examined the clothing he had been wearing when killed. They noted discrepancies and asked that the body be exhumed so that a new examination could be conducted. Said the Pittsburgh Press, while the "coroner's jury exonerated the officer, but there still seems to be a contradiction of the testimony given by witnesses at the inquest. The testimony showed that the deceased was shot in the chest f rom the front, while the clothes worn by him at the time of the shooting shows that he was shot from the back."

The family then swore out a warrant for the arrest of policeman Joy, and engaged the services of well-known Bedford attorney and politician Major Robert C. McNamara to represent their interests in in the prosecution of the trial. Serving as co-counsel was Gen. W.H. Koontz. Serving as defense counsel were Coffroth & Ruppel, F.J. Kooser and J.C. Lowry. The trial was held just before Christmas 1901, and Joy was acquitted.

Some years afterward, his parents joined him in burial at Trinity. A large stone was erected at the site with all three of their names inscribed on the face.

 

~ Daughter Anna "Annie" (May) Darrah/Darr ~

Daughter Anna "Annie" May ( ? - ? ) was born in (?).

She married William Darrah ( ? - ? ), also spelled "Darr."

They were the parents of Samuel "Ross" Darr, born in 1893.

Anna may have died young, as circa 1900 their son lived in the household of Annie's father.

William's fate is unknown except that he was alive in 1906.

Son Samuel "Ross" Darrah (1893-1906) was born on July 26, 1893. At the age of seven, in 1900, he lived with his grandfather Samuel May in Boynton. As a young teenager, he was apprenticed to learn the barber's trade. But tragically, his life was snuffed out at the age of 13 in the summer of 1906 in a fiery and excrutiating accident. Reported the Meyersdale Republican:

The unfortunate boy, with several of his playmates, secured a quantity of mining powder, and, placing the same in their trousers pockets, went down to the railroad where they began setting it off with matches. In some manner the clothing of the Darr child were set on fire, which naturally ignited the powder he had in his pockets, and the rest can more easily be imagined than described. The lad was frightfully burned from his hips up, saving his face, which he shielded by covering it with his hands. Medical aid was immediately summoned and everything was done for the little sufferer that possibly could be done, but to no avail. The extent of the burned and charred area upon the child's body, together with the exceedingly fierce nature of the same, being too much for nature to overcome, the child died on Saturday following the accident at the home of his grandfather, Mr. Samuel May, who resides near Boynton.

Ross's exhausted body gave out after a day of suffering, on Aug. 18, 1906. The remains were placed into rest in Dry Ridge Cemetery at Buffalo Mills, Bedford County.

~ Son Norman L. May ~

Son Norman L. May (1877-1953) was born on June 25, 1877.

When he was about 21 years of age, in about 1898, Norman was joined in marriage with 16-year-old Ellen "Ella" Mimna (1882- ? ), daughter of Edward and Mary Jane (Lenhart) Mimna of Sand Patch, Somerset County.

They were the parents of daughters Mary Augusta "Marie" Doyle, Ethel VanDivender and Norma Hoffman.

The family was devastated in 1919 when their married daughter Marie succumbed to influenza at the age of 19. Her widower, 21-year-old Raymond Doyle, continued to make a home with his in-laws for the time being.

When the federal census enumeration was made in 1910, 1920 and 1930, the Mays lived in Jerome, Conemaugh Township, Somerset County, with Norman employed as a coal miner (1910) and coal mine foreman (1920-1930). During those decades, his unmarried brother James Garfield May, a coal miner and coal mine weighman, lived under their roof.

They Mays' address in 1926 was in Davidsville, Somerset County. They were longtime members of St. David's Lutheran Church of Davidsville.

By 1944, they had relocated to Winchester, Loudoun County, VA.

 

Winchester, Virginia, Norman May's home in 1944

 

Sadly, Norman died in 1953.

Ella survived her husband by nearly two decades. She spent her final years in the Allegheny Lutheran Home. She passed away there at the age of 91 on Dec. 5, 1972. Her remains were interred in Maple Springs Church of the Brethren Cemetery. Rev. Luther Gotwald of the family church officiated at the funeral service, and an obituary appeared in the Somerset Daily American. She was survived by five grandchildren and a dozen great-grandchildren.

Daughter Mary Augusta "Marie" May (1899-1919) was bon on Oct. 9, 1899. She was united in holy matrimony with Raymond E. Doyle ( ? - ? ). The newlyweds made their home with Marie's parents in Jerome, Somerset County. Raymond was employed as a clerk in a local coal mine. Tragically, in mid-March 1919, Marie became wracked with influenza and pneumonia. Her system was unable to recover. Four days later, the 19-year-old passed into eternity. Her remains were placed into eternal repose in Maple Springs Church of the Brethren Cemetery in Jerome. [Find-a-Grave] When the U.S. Census was taken in 1920, Raymond continued to dwell with his in-laws in Jerome.

Daughter Ethel May (1901-1995) was born on Aug. 15, 1901 in Boynton, Somerset County. She wedded Robert Ivan VanDivender (June 21, 1904-1988), son of Yarnald and Mary Ann (Keil) VanDivender of Clearfield County, PA. Their union lasted for 64 years until death cleaved them apart. They were the parents of Robert VanDivender, William VanDivender and Betty Hathcock. Robert owned and operated VanDivender Garage located at the corner of Demuth Street and South Avenue in Johnstown, Cambria County. They belonged to the Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, and Robert was a member of the Connumach Lions Club in Davidsville and the Geistown Volunteer Ambulance Association. Ethel held a membership in the Connumach Lioness Club. Their address in 1972 was 246 Churchill Street in Johnstown. As Robert's health failed in 1988, he was admitted to Windber Hospital. He died there on Nov. 7, 1988. Rev. Ronald B. Reed officiated the funeral service held in the family church, with burial in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Conemaugh Township, Cambria County. An obituary was published in the Somerset Daily American. Ethel outlived her husband and in 1994 was in Geistown, PA. Death swept her away in Windber at the age of 93 on Jan. 10, 1995. Rev. Ronald Reed conducted the funeral. The Johnstown Tribune-Democrat reported in an obituary that she was survived by 10 grandchildren and a dozen great-grandchildren.

  • Grandson Robert VanDivender wedded Adele Hein. They made a home in Richmond, VA in 1988.
  • Grandson William F. VanDivender married Joyce Albert. Their residence in 1988 was in Knoxville, TN and in 1995 in Richmond, VA.
  • Granddaughter Betty VanDivender was joined in wedlock with (?) Hathcock. She lived in Chesapeake, VA in 1988.

 

Tribune to George in the Laurel Messenger newsletter of the Historical & Genealogical Society of Somerset County, 1988

Daughter Norma May (1913-1994) was born on Feb. 13, 1913. When she was 25 years of age, in 1938, she married 31-year-old Dr. George W. Hoffman Sr. (Sept. 29, 1906-1987), son of Alvah and Laura (Bowman) Hoffman of Lincoln Township. They produced two offspring -- Carol A. Beemiller and George W. Hoffman Jr. They were members of the Christ Casebeer Evangelical Lutheran Church, where Norma was a church organist and choir director. She also was a life member of the E.L.C.W. George received a bachelor's degree from Gettysburg College, a master of arts from Pennsylvania State University and a doctor of philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh. He began his career teaching history in local Somerset County schools. Eventually, he became an administrator in the Garrett and Rockwood schools. During World War II, he served as a captain the U.S. Army Air Force. In his postwar years, he was hired by the University of Pittsburgh where he played several roles over time -- as Assistant to the Dean of Men, Director of the Teachers Appointment Bureau, Director of the Pitt Johnstown Center, Associate Professor of Education and Dean of Pitt's Johnstown campus. For the final 14 years of his professional life, he served as Director of the Bureau of Higher Education, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction and Acting Superintendent of the Pennsylvania Department of Education. As well, George was active in the local community. Over the years, he served as president of the Somerset Rotary Club, president for four years of the Historical and Genealogical Society of Somerset County and on the board of directors of the Somerset-Cambria Chapter of the American Red Cross. With the H&GSSC, he helped develop its Mountain Craft Days and a strategic relationship with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. One of his favorite hobbies was the study of old firearms, including the Pennsylvania-Kentucky rifle. Sadly, George died in Somerset Community Hospital on Oct. 29, 1987 at the age of 81. An obituary in the Somerset Daily American noted that Rev. George Walton officiated at the funeral service. In tribute, George was pictured and eulogized on the front page of the H&GSSC's Laurel Messenger newsletter in February 1988. The article announced that a tree was to be planted in his memory and the exhibit hall no. 1 of the Somerset County Historical Center dedicated in his name. Norma's later years were spent in Camp Hill, PA, near her son George. She died at home at the age of 81 on Nov. 21, 1994. Funeral services were held in the Casebeer church, and the Daily American printed an obituary.

  • Granddaughter Carol Ann Hoffman married Richard M. Beemiller. They lived in Fredericksburg, VA in 1987-1994.
  • Grandson George W. Hoffman Jr. resided in Mechanicsburg, PA in 1994.

 

~ Son James Abram Garfield May ~

Son James Abram Garfield May (1880-1944) was born on Sept. 1, 1880 in or around Bard, Bedford County. He appears to have been named for Civil War hero James A. Garfield, who at the time was a popular Republican party candidate for President of the United States, and would go on to be elected, only to be felled by an assassin's bullet wound less than seven months into his administration.

Our James taught school in early adulthood in the vicinity of Boynton, Somerset County. At the age of 19, he worked as a coal miner and lost his left arm in a hunting accident.

Circa 1910-1930, when he was in his 30s and 40s, he was single and lived with his married brother Norman and family in Jerome, Conemaugh Township, Somerset County. His occupation in 1910 and 1930 was coal miner and in 1920 coal mine weighman.

He initially lived in Jerome and for 13 years in Davidsville, Somerset County, moving there in about 1931. There, he was employed as a weighmaster for Maple Ridge Coal Company. He also served as justice of the peace at Davidsville and was an active member of St. David's Evangelical Lutheran Church.

James at age 61 married 41-year-old Martha Washington (Shoemaker) Daniels Pyle (Feb. 1900-1986), daughter of William A. and Lena May (Cobaugh) Shoemaker of Meyersdale. Their wedding was held in 1941. She had been married twice before, to Oreon L. Daniels (1896- ? ) and Dwight D. Pyle (1902-1960). Their nuptials were held at the Methodist church over the state line in Grantsville, MD, with a dinner following at the home of his niece, Ethel Van Divender in Davidsville. In reporting on the marriage, the Somerset Daily American said that "The couple are making their home in Davidsville, where Mr. May is a justice of the peace."

The couple did not reproduce.

After just three years of marriage, fate intervened on the morning of Nov. 30, 1944. James was driving to work on Route 53, between Davidsville and Holsopple in Conemaugh Township. Another vehicle came too close and "he was crowded off the road," reported the Meyersdale Republican, " and that in endeavoring to get back onto the concrete road from the berm, the car skidded and turned over." James was knocked unconscious from severe concussion and was rushed to Memorial Hospital in Johnstown. He never recovered consciousness and died three evenings later on Dec. 3, 1944. Burial was in Maple Spring Church of the Brethren near Jerome, with his pastor, Rev. John Fisher, officiating. The grieving widow placed a classified advertisement in the Altoona Mirror, writing that "I wish to express my gratitude to all of my friends, neighbors and relatives for the beautiful flowers, spiritual bouquets and acts of kindness during my recent bereavement."

Martha lived for another four-plus decades after her first husband's tragic death. She married again in 1947 to warehouse manager Louis A. Seiler (Feb. 12, 1899-1961), son of Frank and Anna Julia (Wolf) Seiler of Pittsburgh. The Seilers made a residence in Altoona, Blair County, PA, at the address of 2519 West Chestnut Avenue.

Suffering from heart disease, Louis was admitted to Altoona Hospital. He died there at the age of 62 on Aug. 2, 1961.

She died in 1986 at the age of about 85. Interment of the remains was next to her husband Louis Seiler in Twin Valley Memorial Park and Mausoleum in Delmont, Westmoreland County, PA.

 

~ Son William H. May ~

Son William H. May (1882-1958) was born on Jan. or June 5, 1882.

When he was age 17, in 1900, he labored in local coal mines in Elk Lick, Somerset County.

William was united in matrimony with Ella M. (1884- ? ). Ella's father was an immigrant from Ireland.

The couple produced seven children, of whom six are known  -- Clara Mildred May, James W. May, Mary Rita May, Barnard J. May, John M. "Jack" May and Margaret Patricia May.

When the federal census enumeration was made in 1920, the young family lived in Elk Lick Township, Somerset County, west of the Casselman River. He continued his labors that year as a coal miner.

The Mayses relocated in 1930 to Akron, Summit County, OH, where he had obtained employment as a rim moulder with Goodyear Aircraft. They remained there for several years until the grip of the Great Depression may have caused him his job. The family then returned to Elk Lick by 1935, and William earned a living in 1940 as a carpenter with the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

William was among scores of Younkin cousins and millions of Americans who took advantage of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's WPA program to put unemployed men and women back to work. The WPA is widely considered one of the Roosevelt's largest and most ambitious undertakings of his "New Deal" to get the nation back on sound economic footing. Over the years, the WPA workers built a wide range of public works projects, from roads and bridges to retaining walls and buildings. Many of these structures still exist today and continue to benefit society.

Once the economy rebounded, William appears to have rejoined Goodyear and worked there until retirement in about 1948. After retiring, he remained in the Akron area, with an address in 1958 of 124 Seventh Street NW, Barberton.

Two days after Christmas 1958, at the age of 76, he succumbed to the Angel of Death as a patient in Barberton Citizens Hospital. An obituary in the Akron Beacon Journal reported that "He leaves his wife, Ella May; three daughters and four sons all in California. The body has been taken to Compton, Cal., for services and burial."

Daughter Clara Mildred May (1912- ? ) was born in about 1912 in Somerset County. She was 18 years old when her family relocated to Akron, Summit County, OH.

Son James W. May (1914- ? ) was born in about 1914 in Somerset County. At the age of 16, he joined his parents in their migration to Akron, Summit County, OH.

Daughter Mary Rita May (1917- ? ) was born in about 1917 in Somerset County, PA. She was age 13 when moving to Akron, Summit County, OH with her parents.

Son Barnard J. May (1920- ? ) grew up in both Akron, OH and Elk Lick, Somerset County.

Son John M. "Jack" May (1923- ? ) grew up in both Akron, OH and Elk Lick, Somerset County.

Daughter Margaret Patricia May (1926- ? ) grew up in both Akron, OH and Elk Lick, Somerset County.

 

Copyright 2016-2018, 2020 Mark A. Miner

Research for this page courtesy the late Olive (Rowan) Duff, the late Donna (Younkin) Logan and the late Helrn (Miller) Robertson. Samuel May image courtesy Suzanne (Smith) Chutis.