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John L. May


John L. May was born on Jan. 11, 1827 or in Feb. 1826 in Somerset County, PA, the son of Leonard and Maria "Catherine" (Younkin) May. A wounded veteran of the Civil War, he farmed as a young man. John stood 5 feet, 10½ inches tall, with a fair complexion, hazel eyes and dark hair, and weighed 164 lbs.

On Sept. 1, 1850, in a ceremony held in Bedford County, the 23-year-old John was united in matrimony with 32-year-old Elizabeth Holler (1818-1894). Justice of the peace Joseph Dull officiated, and Elizabeth's relatives William Holler and Joseph Hollar were present.

The Mayses were the parents of three known children -- Kasiah C. Smith, Samuel C. May and James M. May.

When the federal census was taken in 1860, they made their home next to John’s parents and brother Daniel and family in Juniata Township, Bedford County.


Actual surgeon's sketch of John's Civil
War wound (yellow circle added)

During the Civil War, on Nov. 28, 1864, John was drafted into the Union Army at Chambersburg, PA. He was assigned to the 67th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company C, with the balance of fellow soldiers in the company having been recruited in Pike and Wayne Counties. While in battle at Sailor's Creek, VA on April 6, 1865, he received a enemy gunshot wound through the right breast, two-and-a-half inches below the right nipple. The minié ball passed through his right lung and exited about four inches below his shoulder blade. He fell to the ground and was attended by his brother-in-law Samuel L. Kellerman of the 138th Pennsylvania Infantry, who carried him off the field.

John was taken to Carver Station in Washington, DC for medical care. No longer fit for mlitary duty, John received an honorable discharge on a surgeon's certificate after nine months of duty, on June 28, 1865.

Later in 1865, in October, he applied for a military pension as compensation for his wartime wound. At the time, he was age 38 and living in Dry Creek, Juniata Township, Bedford County. The pension was approved, and he began receiving monthly payments of $6. [Invalid App. #94.547 - Cert. #60.533] The payment was raised to $8 monthly by 1876.

John told others that as a result of the wound, he experienced coughing, rheumatic pain and numbness of his entire right side. He said the debility kept him from earning a living from manual labor.


John's Civil War discharge

At some point the Mayses relocated to Berlin, Somerset County. By 1890, when he was enumerated in a special census of Civil War veterans and their widows, his postal address was Boynton, Somerset County.

John occasionally applied for increases in his pension payment amounts. Among the friends who signed affidavits on his behalf were his brother Daniel H. May, his first wife's kinsmen Samuel Holler of Speelman, PA and William H. Holler of Manns Choice, PA as well as C.G. Stutzman of Rockwood, PA; George W. Witt and Frank H. Sufall of Somerset, PA; and undertaker E.N. Miller and C.C. Kutz of Stahlstown, PA.

Elizabeth succumbed at the age of 76 on the Fourth of July 1894. Her death took place on the Baumeister farm near Berlin.

John survived her by almost six years. In one of his physical examinations, the doctor wrote that "I treated him for vomiting. He always complained of being weak. My opinion is there was a growth in his stomach which closed up the pyloric end [small intestine] and prevented the foot from passing out, as the food would stay in the stomach long enough to be digested and would then be ejected by vomiting."

On April 11, 1899, in nuptials held in Cumberland, Allegany County, MD, he married a second time to Jennie M. (Wooley) Kunkle Stout (July 1849- ? ). The ceremony was held in the Arlington Hotel, led by Rev. J.M. Yingling of the Methodist Protestant Church. Her previous two marriages were in 1867 or 1869 to William Kunkle (who died Oct. 27, 1890) and to David Stout (in about 1893?), which ended in divorce in Somerset County after two years.

At the time of marriage, John was living near Berlin and working on the Iskin farm, while Jennie was employed by Sheriff Hartzell at the Somerset County Jail. They began making a home at Altfather's Mills two miles from Berlin.

The 1900 federal census shows the 74-year-old John and 50-year-old Jennie in a home in Brothersvalley Township, Somerset County. That year, he continued to earn a living as a day laborer. Among his labors in 1901 was plowing seven acres of farm field for Mr. Altfather, the last work he was capable of performing. John underwent oral surgery around that time with Dr. Miller of Hyndman cutting a growth from the roof of the mouth.

Toward the end of his life, John's monthly pension check amount was $51.


Main Street looking east from Lower Diamond in Berlin, PA


Shortly before John's death, in 1902, he threw up after every meal -- sometimes buckets full -- and was stricken with severe diarrhea. Jennie recalled that he "was a pretty hearty eater" and that "the day before he died he ate fat meat which I would not eat. he drank a good deal of milk. But as the food ceased to pass through him he threw up in greater quantities."

Finally, they left Altfather's Mills bound for Fossilville. The couple stayed the first night at the home of fellow soldier (?) Beall. The next two evenings were spent at Chauncey Yutzy's home "on the mountain" and from there they went to the home of his brother Daniel. From there, the day before Easter, they went to negotiate for a house they intended to buy in Fossilville, and bedded that night at the residence of Mary Ritchey. Among those individuals with whom they interacted in Fossilville were Mary Stauffer, wife of J.W. Stauffer; his first wife's relative Samuel Holler; and Frederick Wolford.

At the end, he walked about the house they were about to buy and could not rest in a reclining position, preferring to sit in a chair.

John died just three days after Easter in the wee hours of April 9, 1902. No physician was in attendance. His brother Daniel came within a few hours to make funeral arrangements. John Sides of Hyndman was the undertaker and also officiated at the burial service at the Trinity United Church of Christ Cemetery. In an obituary in its "Berlin" column, the Meyersdale Republican noted that he was "formerly of this community, [and] died at Fossilville, Bedford county, aged about 70 years. He was a veteran of the civil war."

Now widowed, Jennie continued to dwell in Fossilville. She applied for her late husband's pension, but it was not granted.


~ Daughter Kasiah C. (May) Smith ~

Daughter Kasiah C. May (1852-1943) was born on Feb. 17, 1852 in Bedford County.

In about 1876, when she was about 23 years of age, Kasiah married Samuel Smith (June 5, 1852-1917), son of Jacob and Sarah (Kelites) Smith of Bedford County.

They were the parents of a dozen children, of whom these names are known -- Cora Smith, Ida Burris, Carrie Smith, Harvey Samuel Smith, Levi Smith, Florence Smith, John "William" Smith, Ada Smith and Pearl Bingner. One of the daughters married Levi Coughenour.

The Smiths were farmers. Circa 1880, federal census records show them in Elk Lick Township, Somerset County, PA. Later, by 1900, they made a home in Glencoe, Northampton Township, Somerset County.

Samuel was burdened with heart valve disease which led to congenital heart failure. Sadly, he died at the age of 65 on Aug. 27, 1917. Interment was in Mount Lebanon Cemetery, otherwise known as "Lebanon Cemetery" in Glencoe, Somerset County.

In about 1922, she relocated to Berlin, Somerset County, where she spent the final 21 years of her life.

Suffering from chronic heart disease, she died at the age of 91 on April 4, 1943. Burial was in Mt. Lebanon Cemetery, with J.W. Smith of Berlin signing the official Pennsylvania certificate of death. An obituary in the Meyersdale Republican noted that she had died "after an illness of about a month" and was survived by 17 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Daughter Cora Smith (1876- ? ) was born in about 1876 in Elk Lick Township, Somerset County.

Daughter Ida Smith (1879- ? ) was born in about 1879 in Elk Lick Township, Somerset County. She married (?) Burris. She lived in Detroit in 1943 and may be the same person who, in the 1940 census, was widowed and living with her unmarried son William in Detroit.

Daughter Carrie Smith (1882- ? ) was born in March 1882.

Daughter (?) Smith ( ? - ? ) married Samuel Coughenour. They dwelled in Detroit in 1943-1948. The couple is believed to have had these children, Harold Ray Coughenour, Walter LeRoy Coughenour, George E. Coughenour and Evelyn Ekstrom.

  • Grandson Harold Ray Coughenour ( ? -1969) was born in (?). He married Theodora B. ( ? - ? ). Evidence hints that he was a member of the Dearborn Lodge of the Masons. Theodora died prior to 1969. He joined her in death in 1969, with a death notice published in the Detroit Free Press, naming Levi H. Smith as an uncle.
  • Grandson Walter LeRoy Coughenour
  • Grandson George E. Coughenour.
  • Granddaughter Evelyn G. Coughenour wedded (?) Ekstrom.

Son Harvey Samuel Smith (1884-1948) was born on Jan. 28, 1884 in Glencoe, Somerset County. Harvey married Bertha Mae Bergman (or "Borgman") (1886- ? ). The couple produced a daughter, Mrs. Grayson Lucas. They resided in Berlin. Sadly, the marriage ended in divorce. He was employed for many years at Frantz Distillery. Toward the end of his life, suffering from cancer of the prostate and bladder, he was a patient in Shockey Hospital in Berlin. When he caught a serious case of pneumonia, he was transferred to Somerset Community Hospital. He died a day later on Nov. 7, 1948. Burial was in Mount Lebanon Cemetery in Glencoe, with Rev. A.F. Richards leading the service. Son-in-law Grayson Lucas was the informant for the death certificate, and an obituary appeared in the Meyersdale Republican and Cumberland (MD) Evening Times.

  • Granddaughter (?) Smith married Grayson Lucas and lived in Cumberland, MD in 1948.

Son John "William" Smith (1887-1966) was born on Jan. 14, 1887. He wedded Mary A. McDonough ( ? - ? ). He was a longtime farmer and resided in the Berlin area. In retirement, he made a home at 312 Cumberland Street in Berlin. He spent his final years ni the Somerset County Home for the Aged in Berlin, afflicted with rectal cancer. He was carried away by the Grim Reaper at the age of 79 on April 1, 1966. Interment was in the IOOF Cemetery in Berlin.

Son Levi H. Smith (1889-1974) was born on May 1, 1889 in Glencoe, Somerset County. He was tall and slender, with blue eyes and black hair. At the age of 20 in 1910, he was unmarried and lived at home and was a school teacher in or around Northampton Township, Somerset County. By 1917, he had accepted a teaching position at Norwin High School in Irwin, Westmoreland County. When required to register for the military draft during World War I, in 1917, he was single and stated that he also was a farmer and suffered a weak side as a result of surgery. At the age of 37, in about 1928, he wedded 23-year-old Betty S. (1905- ? ), a New York native. They made their home in 1930 and 1940 in Detroit, Wayne County, MI. His occupation in 1930 was as an accountant for a refrigeration company, and by 1940 had changed careers as an agent with the Internal Revenue Service. Over the years, he was a member of the Army and Navy Lodge of the Masons, patron of Trinity Chapter of the Order of Eastern Star, vice president of the Wayne County Association and member of the George Washington Post of the American Legion. At one time he was publisher of the Eastern Star magazine in Michigan. He was still living in 1969 when named in the Free Press death notice of a nephew. In the 1970s, they lived in Highland Park, Wayne County, MI. Levi died at the age of 85, on Sept. 27, 1974 in Ford Hospital in Detroit. A death notice in the Free Press said that an Army-Navy Lodge funeral service would be held.

Daughter Florence Smith (1893- ? ) was born in June 1893.

Daughter Pearl Smith (1893-1983) was born on June 26, 1893 in Northampton Township, Somerset County. She was wedded to Ward Bingner ( ? -1977). They dwelled in Berlin and bore two offspring -- Phyllis I. Painter and one other. Sadness enveloped the family when 42-year-old daughter Phyllis J. Painter died in 1969. Ward passed away in 1977. Pearl survived her spouse by six years. She succumbed in Maple Mountain Manor at the age of 90 on Nov. 15, 1983. Her remains were placed into repose in the Berlin Odd Fellows Cemetery. Rev. Ralph E. Ellis officiated at the funeral, and a short obituary was printed in the Meyersdale Republican. [Find-a-Grave]

  • Granddaughter Phyllis I. Bingner (1925-1969) was born in 1969. She married (?) Painter ( ? - ? ). Sadly, she died at the age of about 42 in 1969. She rests beside her mother in the Berlin IOOF Cemetery.


Main Avenue from Center Street in Ashtabula, OH, as published on a postcard by photographer Bruce Gardner. Below: Bruce's imprint on the back of the card.


Daughter Ada I. Smith (1897-1966) was born on Feb. 22, 1897 in or around Northampton Township, Somerset County. When she was a young woman, she relocated to Fort Wayne, Allen County, IN. At the age of 22, on March 6, 1919, she married 35-year-old Indiana native Bruce C. Gardner (May 28, 1895-1967), the son of Myrtle (Calbert) Gardner. The nuptials were held in Fort Wayne and performed by Rev. A.G. Neal of the First Methodist Episcopal Church. At the time, Bruce was employed as a motor tester in Fort Wayne. Circa 1930, federal census records show the couple living in Detroit, with Bruce employed as a commercial salesman of paper products and Ada as a photography retoucher. By 1940, they relocated to Geneva, Ashtabula County, OH. In Geneva, the couple operated their own photography studio. Ada passed into eternity on Jan. 6, 1966, at the age of 69. Bruce only outlived her by a year and succumbed on March 3, 1967. They rest in Evergreen Cemetery in Geneva.


~ Son Samuel C. May ~

Son Samuel C. May (1853- ? ) was born in about 1853.

He reputedly died at the age of 16 on Oct. 30, 1869, per the records of MayHouse.org.


~ Son James M. May ~

Son James M. May (1855-1935) was born on Valentine's Day 1855 in Buffalo Mills, Bedford County.

In about 1882, when he would have been age 27, James was wedded to 18-year-old Margaret Large "Maggie" Shook (Aug. 5, 1864-1938), also spelled "Shuck," the daughter of William and Mary Ann (Patton) Shuck.

The couple were farmers and made their home for decades in Berlin, Brothersvalley Township, Somerset County.

They were the parents of five children, of whom four survived childhood -- Charles C. May, Manda M. May, Winifred K. "Winnie" Lytle and Hilda A. Smith. At least one of the children was born in Meyersdale, Somerset County.

Circa 1910, when the federal census enumeration was made, James earned a living at age 55 by performing odd jobs, and Margaret was a dress-maker. James' work in 1920, as shown by the census was as a stable boss in nearby coal mines. Their home in 1921 was in Goodtown, and they hosted the marriage ceremony of their youngest daughter Hilda.

As he reached age 80, James was burdened with chronic kidney disease, uremia and hardening of the arteries. He died at age 80 on Dec. 7, 1935, in Brothersvalley. C.C. May of Berlin was the informant for the Pennsylvania death certificate. Burial was in Ridge Church Cemetery.

Margaret survived her husband by a little more than two years. Stricken with chronic inflammation of her gall bladder, she succumbed at the age of 73 on Feb. 3, 1938. Harry L. Lytle of Berlin was the informant for the Pennsylvania death certificate.

Son Charles C. May (1882- ? ) was born in Feb. 1882 in Berlin. He worked as a young man as a driller. At the age of 24, on Sept. 23, 1906, he was united in matrimony with 16-year-old Linnie B. Baker ( ? - ? ), daughter of C. Wilson and Mary Baker of Berlin. Because Linnie was legally underage, her widowed father gave his consent to the union. Rev. Charles Lambert officiated at the nuptials held in Friedens, Somerset County.

Daughter Manda M. May (1889-1918?) was born in Nov. 1889 in Berlin. She is believed to have wedded Harry Llewellyn Lytle (July 31, 1885-1955), son of James and Jane E. (Gates) Lytle of Six Mile Run, Bedford County. At the age of 17, Harry had relocated to Berlin and remained there for the balance of his life. Their home was near Manda's parents in Berlin. They produced three children -- Charles Edison Lytle, Elwood LLewellyn Lytle and Evelyn C. Lytle. Tragically, Manda passed away on July 13, 1918 at the age of about 29. Her untimely death left Harry with three young mouths to feed. To help raise the children, with Harry working as a pumper in local coal mines, Manda's younger sister Winnie moved into the household as a servant. The couple ended up marrying on Dec. 7, 1920, at Berlin, uniting themselves in wedlock. See Winnie's biography for more.

  • Grandson Charles Edison "C.E." Lytle made his home in 1955 in Wilmington, DC.
  • Grandson Elwood Llewellyn Lytle (1913- ? ) was born in 1913 in Berlin. He was but a boy of five when his mother died. He earned a living as a young man as a laborer in Berlin. On July 1, 1939, he wedded 21-year-old Evelyn Marie Brant ( ? -1993), daughter of Charles Howard and Nellie Grace (Stahl) Brant of Berlin. The nuptials were held at Zion's Church parsonage in Berlin, led by Rev. F.D. Witmer. During World War II, Elwood served in the U.S. Navy and spent six months' duty in Naples, Italy. Then in 1946, after the war's end, they established a home in Baltimore, MD. They remained there into the 1990s. Sadly, Evelyn died on May 4, 1993. Burial was in Holly Hill Cemetery. A brief death notice was printed in the Baltimore Sun.
  • Granddaughter Evelyn C. Lytle ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). She wedded Donald Fogle ( ? - ? ). They dwelled in Berlin and were the parents of Wayne Roger Fogle, Neil Fogle, two other sons and a daughter. The couple separated, with Evelyn remaining in Berlin and Donald relocating to Ohio. Heartache blanketed the family on July 30, 1961 when 26-year-old son Roger and 32-year-old Noreen Watkins drowned accidentally. They had been on a lunch outing at a "water-filled clay strip mine pit in Brothersvalley township, about four miles east of Berlin," reported the Meyersdale Republican. Local fireman recovered the bodies in eight feet of water in the pit, operated by Svonavec Coal Company. "State police reported that there was a cut over the left eye of Fogle, leading authorities to conclude that he may have dived into the water and struck his head on a rock. It is thought that Mrs. Watkins may have tried to save him and then both drowned."

Daughter Winifred K. "Winnie" May (1892-1941) was born on Sept. 19, 1892 in Meyersdale, Somerset County. When she was age 18 in 1910, living at home, she worked at a local box factory. In 1920, still single at age 28, she worked as a servant in the home of her widowed, 34-year-old neighbor and brother-in-law Harry Llewellyn Lytle, who had three children in the household. Later that year, on Dec. 7, 1920, the 28-year-old Winnie married Lytle July 31, 1885-1955), the son of James and Jane E. (Gates) Lytle. The couple made a home in Berlin. At some point, following surgery, a hernia of tissue began to form on the scar. This caused an obstruction of her intestines and bowels and led to her death at the age of 49 on Jan. 5, 1941. Margaret Shaulis of Somerset signed the death certificate. Harry survived her by 14 years and maintained a home at 1412 Brubaker Street. He endured heart disease and hardening of the arteries and in June 1955 suffered a stroke. He survived the stroke but succumbed to a heart attack a month later on July 24, 1955.  Funeral services were conducted by Rev. Lyle Lichtenberger. The Meyersdale Republican printed an obituary. Son C.E. Lytle of Wilmington, DE was the informant for the death certificate. Winnie, her sister and their mutual husband rest together in the IOOF Cemetery in Berlin. [Find-a-Grave]


National Hotel (right)in Berlin, PA


Daughter Hilda A. May (1895- ? ) was born in Oct. 1895 in Berlin. She earned income for the family in 1920 as a sales lady in what's believed to have been the Dull Mercantile Store in Berlin. On Sept. 15, 1921, when she was 25 years of age, Hilda wedded her co-worker, store manager Jeremiah G. Smith (1873-1941), son of George and Elizabeth (Ruby) Smith. Rev. G.W. Ringer, pastor of the Berlin Methodist Episcopal Church, officiated at the ceremony held at the home of Hilda's parents in Goodtown. An article about the wedding appeared in the Meyersdale Republican. Hilda was 22 years younger than her spouse. The couple bore two known offspring, Glenda M. Smith and Glenson J. Smith. In 1930-1940, the United States Census shows the family residing in the town of Grey in Jenners Township, Somerset County, with Jeremiah earning a living as a salesman in a branch of the Dull Mercantile store. Suffering from cancer of the rectum at age 68, Jeremiah underwent surgery in January 1941 which led to an abscess. He succumbed two months later on March 12, 1941. His remains were placed into repose in Mt. Zion Cemetery in Somerset.

  • Grandson (?) Smith (1923- ? ) was born in 1923.
  • Grandson Glenson J. "Glen" Smith (1924- ? ) was born in about 1924.


~ More ~

"Many descendants live in the Berlin, Somerset County area," wrote researcher Suzanne Chutis.


Copyright 2016-2018 Mark A. Miner

Research for this page graciously shared by the late Olive (Rowan) Duff and the late Donna May brothers image courtesy Suzanne (Smith) Chutis.