W. J. May, a Kansas pioneer and Civil war veteran, who has spent fifty-seven years of his life in this State, was born in Woodson county, Virginia, (now West Virginia), May 25, 1840. He is a son of George W. and Rachael (Smith) May, both natives of Virginia. The May family came to Kansas in 1857, settling at Valley Falls, and here they bought government land, and the father followed farming there until his death which occurred in 1887; the mother died shortly after coming to this State in 1861. When they settled here, this section of Kansas was sparsely settled, and land could be bought almost anywhere for $4 per acre, and later it was even cheaper than that. W. J. May was one of a family of eleven children. He was seventeen years old when the family came to Kansas, and did not attend school very much after that. He remained at home until about twenty-one, when he went to work as a farm laborer, receiving $13 per month. When he was twenty-three, he bought a farm adjoining his father's place, and here began life for himself, farming about fifty acres of land. He continued farming and stock raising, and now has one of the finest farms of 320 acres in Jefferson county. In 1875, he went to Barton county, took a homestead and bought additional land, and in 1899, sold his interests in Barton county and removed to Meriden, where he has since lived, practically, in retirement. At one time he owned 1,600 acres of land in Ford county, but he has disposed of that. He is a stockholder in the State Bank of Meriden, and interested in other local enterprises. In the fall of 1862, Mr. May enlisted in Company I, Eleventh Regiment, Kansas infantry, which was later converted into a regiment of cavalry. His regiment did service along the border, in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Indian Territory. He was at the engagements at Kane Hill, Prairie Grove, and in the campaign against General Price, and in the spring of 1865, his regiment was sent on an expedition against hostile Indians in the West. They had several encounters with the "Noble Red Man," and his horse was shot from under him at Platte Bridge, near Sweetwater, and he says when his horse fell that he was up and going on foot, in the opposite direction from the Indians, without the loss of a second. He remained in the service for some time after his term of enlistment expired, until the regiment was relieved, when he returned to Fort Leavenworth and was discharged. The May family were were well[sic] represented in the Civil war, five brothers out of the following family of children bore arms in defense of the Union. Salathiel, served in Company I, Eleventh Kansas Regiment; Martha, married Abraham Hasler, and is now deceased; Isaac, served in the Eleventh Kansas Regiment, resides at Onaga, Kans.; James, served in Company I, Eleventh Kansas, and is now deceased; George, served in Company I, Eleventh Kansas; Rachael married Hugh Piper, and now resides at Hoyt, Kans.; Amy, married George Gerberick, and resides in Topeka; Eliza married George Lambert, and resides in Oskaloosa; Joseph, resides in Thomas county, Kansas, and Flora. Mr. May was married in 1870, to Miss Lavina Piper, a native of Indiana, then a resident of Jefferson county. She came to Kansas with her parents when a child. To Mr. and Mrs. May have been born four children: William, a farmer near Meriden, Kans.; Henry, a farmer near Carbondale, Kans.; Florence, married Thomas Stewart, and resides at San Diego, Calif., and Katie, deceased. Mr. May takes a commendable interest in public affairs, and has served as Mayor of Meriden two terms, and has served several terms on the school board. He is a stanch Republican, and has ever supported the principles of that party. He is a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen.Pages 275-276 from a supplemental volume of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed October 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM196. It is a single volume 3.
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