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Catharine (Younkin) May


Catharine's grave, with the date obscured by a cement patch

Maria "Catharine" (Younkin) May was born on July 28, 1798, the daughter of Jacob and Hannah (Nicola) Younkin Sr

Her father died in 1811 when she was 13 years old. In December 1813, her uncle Frederick was assigned as her and her brother Samuel's legal guardian.

Catharine was wed to Leonard May (1795?-1889), son of Bedford County pioneers Daniel and Elizabeth May of Bedford Cove.

The Mays initially dwelled in Colerain Township, Bedford County in 1810-1824 when their eldest three sons reputedly were born, and later in Somerset County, where their son Silas was born in 1833. They eventually settled on a farm near the village of West End in Juniata Township, Bedford County.

For more than three decades, their family physician was Dr. John C. Early.

Their nine known children were John L. May, Mary Ann "Anna" Kellerman, Elizabeth Tipton Metzger, Daniel H. May, Samuel M. May, Louisa Beltz, Marcus "Mark" May, Hiram May and Silas May. Several other individuals -- David May, William May, Henry May -- may have been their children or step-children, with more confirmation needed of their life details.


Village where the Mayses dwelled

The Juniata Township area where the Mays lived in the antebellum years was about a dozen miles from the famed Bedford Springs. Built as a resort in the early 1800s, its mineral waters were widely known for their healing properties and the Greek Revival building billed as a "palace in the wilderness." The Mays would have well known about the site and then as Presidents James Polk visited in 1848 and Zachary Taylor in 1849. From 1857 to 1861, President James Buchanan considered Bedford Springs as his summer White House and, in August 1858, received the world's first transatlantic telegram there, sent by Queen Victoria in England.

Whether or not the Mayses sold any of their farm produce or provided labor at the always-expanding Bedford Springs is not yet known.

When the federal census enumeration was made in 1860, the Mays dwelled on a farm in Juniata Township. In addition to children Samuel, Mark, Hiram and Silas, three-year-old Mary Mull also lived under their roof. Residing nearby were Leonard and Catharine’s sons John and Daniel and their families.


Left: President James Buchanan, who used the Bedford Springs as his summer White House. [Courtesy Library of Congress] Right: The resort circa 1884.



1884 History of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton

During the Civil War, five of their sons and three sons-in-law served in the Union Army -- for a total of eight -- with only youngest, underage son Silas, not taking part. Son John was wounded in battle at Sailor's Creek; son-in-law James Lewis Kellerman shot in the knee and feet at the battles of Monocacy Junction and Cedar Creek; son Daniel developed kidney blockage; son Samuel was infected with the measles and held as a prisoner of war in some of the Confederacy's most notorious prisons; son-in-law Samuel G. Beltz suffered from fever and diarrhea; and son Hiram was struck by shell fragments at Winchester, VA. In addition, son-in-law Noah Tipton contracted malaria and returned home, but died within six months.


Leonard's grave, Dry Ridge.

The Mayses remained in Juniata during the decade of the 1860s and 1870s. It appears that in 1870, all of the children had left the home except for their youngest, 20-year-old Silas. Also in the household were their teenage grandchildren, 13-year-old George Tipton and 13-year-old Mary Kellerman.

The 1880 census, also of Juniata, shows that they provided a home for 17-year-old granddaughter Sarah Beltz, whose mother had died four years earlier.

Leonard was featured in a paragraph in the 1884 book, History of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania, produced by Waterman, Watkins & Co. The paragraph, in the section about Juniata Township, said: "Leonard May, now upward of eighty years of age, is a native of Milligan's cove, and a son of one of the early pioneers. Mr. May had five sons in the army during the late war, and all lived to return."

In July 1883, perhaps impacted by the untimely death of his married daughter Elizabeth Tipton Metzger, Leonard dictated his last will and testament. Because he could not write, he spoke his words and signed his name with an "X." The document was witnessed by Frederick Mowry and Casper Straub. At the time, Leonard stated that he was "of sound mind and memory and understanding..." He first decreed that his remains be "decently interred in the cemetery or graveyard at the Stone church on Dry Ridge according to the rites and ceremonies of the Lutheran church. Leonard then directed that the eastern end of his farm -- where he was then living, comprising about one-half of all his land -- be sold in order to pay funeral expenses and settle debts.

Son Marcus was to inherit the west half, of about 125 acres, the boundary line of which included hickory and blazed locust trees, and was to pay $10 per acre in five equal yearly installments. Marcus also was "not to be allowed anything for building the barn which he built on said farm," Leonard said, "the three hundred dollars which I agreed to allow him for building said barn I have allowed him in the sale of the said land." The widowed Catherine was to make her home with Marcus and to receive a share of the income produced by the son's farm. The residual value of the estate was to be divided equally among all of his children, whom he named as "My son John L., my son Daniel, my daughter Elizabeth (now dead), her heirs, my daughter Mary Ann (now dead, her heirs), my son Samuel, my daughter Louisa (now dead, her heirs), my son Marcus, my son Hiram and my son Silas." In closing, Leonard appointed his son Marcus and "esteemed friend" M.C. Miller as co-executors.


Leonard's last will and testament - Will Book 6, page 451. Courtesy Register of Wills, County of Bedford, PA.


Leonard passed away in their home in Juniata on Feb. 1, 1889, just 15 minutes before the noon hour.


Helen Robertson's book

Among the couple's household possessions inventoried were a cow, heifer, bushels of wheet, lot of corn, cook stove breakfast table, kitchen table, bureau, five chair, clock, dough tray, bedstead and bedding, spinnig wheel, wool wheel, cupboard, copper kettle, crocks and apple butter. Other items were chickens, oats, cutting box, forks, split baskets, pots, bowl, tinware, quilts and sheets and $11.50 in cash.

Catharine survived him by three and a half years. During that time, in 1890, a new church building was dedicated at the cemetery where Leonard was interred, known at that time as the Trinity Reformed Church along Dry Ridge.

She died in Juniata Township on Aug. 22, 1892, at the age of about 94.

They rest for eternity in what today is known as Trinity United Church of Christ Cemetery. [Find-a-Grave] The graveyard is located six miles west of Manns Choice along Glade Pike.

In 1989, Helen Ruth (Miller) Robertson, the wife of their great-grandson Walter Franklin Robertson, compiled and published a 249-page family book entitled The Robertson and May Families: with Allied Families. She appears to have gathered some of her information from Donna (Younkin) Logan, publisher of the Younkin Family News Bulletin and organizer of the Younkin Reunion-East, and also from the founder of this website. While containing a number of errors, the book contains a number of key facts and anecdotes that are available nowhere else.

Both of their grave markers appear to have been broken in half over time. Both have been repaired with a patch that appears to be cement-or-concrete-like. The stones today stand upright, but with the patch obscuring potentially valuable texts.


Dry Ridge Trinity United Church of Christ, August 2020


~ Presumed Son David May ~

Son David May (1810-1836) reputedly was born on Nov. 20,1810 in Colerain Township, Bedford County. If so, his mother was only 12 years of age at the time.

According to MayHouse.or records, David passed away at the age of 26 on Dec. 10, 1836. This all needs to be confirmed.


Sons of Leonard and Catharine May, 4 of whom were Civil War veterans. Front: L-R: Samuel, Daniel, Marcus. Back, L-R: Hiram, Silas. Courtesy Suzanne Smith Chutis.


~ Presumed Son William May ~

Son William May (1813-1837) was allegedly born on Jan. 12, 1813 in Colerain Township, Bedford County. If so, his mother was only 15 years of age at the time.

Records of MayHouse.org suggest that William passed away at the age of 24 on May 12, 1837.


~ Presumed Son Henry May ~

Son Henry May (1824-1905) was born on May 24, 1824 in Colerain Township, Bedford County.

His birth is documented in the records of MayHouse.org and as published in the 1989 book entitled The Robertson and May Families: with Allied Families, authored by Helen Ruth (Miller) Robertson.

He reputedly passed away at the age of 81 on Oct. 6, 1905. More about him will be added when learned.


Copyright 2016-2021 Mark A. Miner

Research for this page graciously shared by the late Olive (Rowan) Duff and the late Donna (Younkin) Logan. May brothers image courtesy Suzanne (Smith) Chutis. Bedford Springs resort image originally published in History of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania, Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1884.