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Hiram C. May


Hiram May

Hiram C. May was born on Feb. 26, 1848 in Juniata Township, Bedford County, PA, the son of Leonard and Maria "Catherine" (Younkin) May. He was a veteran of the Civil War.

Hiram at the age of 20 stood 5 feet, 7 inches tall and had a fair complexion, dark eyes and dark hair.

During the height of the Civil War, on June 5, 1863, Hiram joined the Union Army. He was sent to Baltimore and assigned to the 138th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company F, the same unit containing his brothers Marcus and Samuel and brother-in-law James Lewis Kellerman. His company was commanded by A. Webster Shaffer.

While in action on June 1, 1864, at the Battle of Cold Harbor, VA, he may have received wound of some sort, but this needs to be confirmed.

Then at Opequan Creek/Winchester, VA on Sept. 19, 1864, he was injured by friendly fire, one of 43 of his regiment's casualties that day. About the injury, he later wrote:

...the shell struck in the ground under my feet and exploded takeing off both shoes and burning my socks off my feet and tearing my pants all to strings. Major L.A. May says the shell threw me up in the air eight or ten feet and told my Brother afterward that I was all toren to pieces by a shell. My left leg was brok [sic] just above the ankle and both feed badly mutilated and also I was hurt in back and and hips. It was about five days before my wounds was dressed and Gangreen set in. I was first taken to Jarvis Hospital in Baltimore and cannot give dat [sic] or tell how long I was there then I was taken to Chester Hospital at Chester, Pa.


Above: Sept. 1864 fighting at Winchester, VA, where Hiram was wounded. Below: surgeon's sketch of his ankle and heel injuries.


He remained disabled for the remainder of the war. He was transferred to the 20th Veterans Reserve Corps (VRC), Company A, on April 1, 1865, having served in total for two years, one month and nine days. He and his brother Marcus, a corporal, officially were mustered out of service on June 23, 1865 at Washington, DC. He traveled to Philadelphia to complete his honorable discharge.

Immediately upon his return home, Hiram filed to receive a federal pension as compensation for his wounds. [Invalid App. #94.546 - Cert. #69.548] The year after the war ended, Hiram and his woundings were mentioned in Oscela Lewis's book History of the One Hundred and Thirty-eighth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. [Link]

Hiram was a longtime farmer and carpenter and appears to have relocated in 1866 to North Lewisburg, Champaign County, OH. His monthly income included $30 in pension payments circa 1889. By 1929, the amount had increased to $72.

On New Year's Eve 1873, when he was 25 years of age, he was united in wedlock with Carrie M. Holycross (Aug. 28, 1847-1890) of North Lewisburg. Rev. A.U. Beall officiated, and the news was printed in the Weekly Marysville (OH) Tribune.

The couple bore one known child, Myrtle May, who died at the age of nine months on Sept. 16, 1876.

They remained in North Lewisburg for the duration of their marriage. Hiram was so disabled that his wife once observed that he was "obliged to remain in doors the greater portion of the time and is not able to do any work. Often when he gets out of bed or rises off a chair his ankles gives away and he falls to the floor and I assist him to his cane or a chair when he is walking about the house or on the street. He is liable to fall at any time."

In about 1887, Hiram was employed by J.K. Hawkins in a cigar and tobacco store in North Lewisburg. He also occasionally sharpened saws. Hawkins wrote that Hiram "is so badly cripled as to have to use a cane continually when walking... I know this by being in the store nearly every day...."

Sadly, Carrie passed away in North Lewisburg on July 22, 1890. Her remains were lowered into repose in Maple Grove Cemetery in North Lewisburg. [Find-a-Grave]

The grieving Hiram survived her by 39 years. He stopped working in about 1909, and spent 20 years in retirement. His health failed on Sept. 3, 1913, and he was incapacitated for about a year, with W.H. Holycross serving as his attendant. In February 1915, he and Will Holycross, John Heck and Merle Robinson and their wives attended the funeral of Mrs. Del Stickley in Marysville.

On Memorial Day 1920, he was honored among other members of the John Briney Post of the Grand Army of the Republic with a seat on the speaker's platform for a ceremony held at the local high school. Other veterans with whom he sat were William Dobbins, William Lane, Ben Grubbs, Jacob Evans, Ruben Poling, Sam Riley. Oss Millington, Seth West, David Enoch and William Hunter. The main remarks of the day were delivered by Rev. Simmons of Urbana on the subject of "The Missions and Problems of America."

Then in October 1926, he was admitted to the county hospital for medical care. The Union County (OH) Journal in Marysville said he "has recovered sufficiently ... and plans to visit relatives in the near future in Pennsylvania.

His health again took a turn for the rose, and he relocated on Aug. 13, 1929 to Hyndman, Bedford County, PA, likely at the encouragement of his brother Marcus. Just three days after arrival, on Aug. 16, 1929, already suffering from senility and heart disease, he was rendered unconscious and became "entirely helpless, bedfast and unconscious," said a friend. The Bedford County Court appointed his sister-in-law Mary May as his nurse. Mary wrote that "his mental condition is of a flighty kind; that some person must be with [him] at every moment."

With Hiram suffering from hardening of the arteries at the age of 81, while in Hyndman, the Grim Reaper of Death cut him away on Aug. 31, 1929. Burial was in Lybarger Cemetery in Madley, PA. Brother Marcus May of Hyndman signed the official death certificate, while B.C. May was named executor of the estate.

A short obituary appeared in the Republican.


Copyright 2016-2017 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.