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Marcus 'Mark' May
(1842-1930)

 

Marcus May

Marcus "Mark" May was born in about October 1842 in Bedford County, PA, the son of Leonard and Maria "Catherine" (Younkin) May. He was among five brothers who survived their service in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Marcus served during the war as a member of the 138th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company F. He was promoted to corporal. While stationed at Front Royal, VA, on Oct. 2, 1864, he and other men within the regiment cast their votes for House of Representatives and Bedford County candidates.

Little else about his military service is known. He and his brother Hiram, a private, officially were mustered out of service on June 23, 1865 at Washington, DC.

The year after the war ended, Marcus was named in Oscela Lewis's book History of the One Hundred and Thirty-eighth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.

 

Bedford Inquirer, 1866

In December 1866, when he was 24 years of age, Marcus wedded 16-year-old Mary E. Shirer (April 25, 1850-1938), also spelled "Shirey," the daughter of George and Sarah (Troutman) Shirer of Bedford County and granddaughter of Benjamin and Catharine Troutman. The ceremony was held in the home of Mary's parents in Juniata Township, with justice of the peace David Miller officiating. A story about their wedding in the Bedford Inquirer noted that the groom was "late of Company F, 138th Regiment of Pennsylvania volunteers." It also noted that Mary's grandmother was "the mother, grand-mother and great-grand-mother of 150 children and is not yet 70 years of age. We are happy to say that the whole relationship, with a single exception, vote the Republican ticket."

The children the couple produced were James R. May, Sarah Catherine Philson, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Hillegas and Adam May.

Sadly, son James is thought to have died at the age of 16 in 1878. The cause of his untimely passing is not yet known.

On March 2, 1877, Marcus filed to receive a military pension, and it was approved. [Invalid App. #231.978 - Cert. #216.273]

They were farmers for a period years, until about 1900, when they purchased the Arlington Hotel in Hyndman, Bedford County. The couple went on to own and manage the hotel for 33 years, until Marcus' death. Marcus and Mary also were members of the Madley Lutheran Church.

 

Aerial view of Hyndman, PA, early 1900s

 

 

Lybarger Cemetery

He suffered from "general debility" in his later 80s and, at age 87, entered eternity on Jan. 5, 1930. Burial was in Lybarger Cemetery in Madley, Bedford County. A marker was erected at the grave, inscribing his death year as "1929."

Now widowed, Mary applied to the federal government to receive her late husband's pension. She filed the application on Feb. 20, 1930, and the government granted her request. [Widow App. #1.661.262 - Cert. #A-4-2-30]

Mary spent her final year of life in the White Star Hotel in Jennerstown, Somerset County, PA, owned by her daughter and son-in-law, Sarah Catherine and Speer Philson.

Stricken with cancer of the right ear, and lobar pneumonia, she passed away at the age of 87 on March 4, 1938. Grandson John L. Philson of Jennerstown signed her death certificate. An obituary in the Meyersdale Republican said that she was survived by 20 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren and "was a sister of William Shirey of Hyndman, Adam Shirey, Mrs. Harry Moller, Mrs. Silas May and Mrs. Scott Turney, all of Buffalo Mills."

Rev. C.W. Karns, of the Jennerstown Lutheran Church, preached the funeral sermon.

The Civil War pension then was awarded to a younger member of the family. [XC #894.762]

Many years, later, in October 2018, the founder of this website wrote to the National Archives in St. Louis to request access to Marcus's full and complete Civil War pension file under the Freedom of Information Act. As of today, the request has not been honored.

Marcus rests in the same cemetery as his brother Daniel. Their grave markers were photographed by the founder of this website in August 2020.

 

Lybarger Lutheran Church and cemeteryy, Buffalo Mills

 

 

~ Son James R. May ~

Son James R. May (1862-1878) was born on March 3, 1862.

For reasons not yet known, he passed away at the untimely age of 16 on June 20, 1878.

 

~ Daughter Sarah Catherine "Sadie" (May) Philson ~

Daughter Sarah Catherine "Sadie" May (1871-1966) was born on May 17, 1871 (or 1870 or 1874) in Juniata Township, Bedford County.

In 1888, when she was age 16, Sarah Catherine was joined in marital union with 24-year-old Speer Oran Philson (1864-1928), a native of Baltimore, Somerset County.

The couple were the parents of 11 offspring -- Maude Haclerode, Mary Griffith, Florence Philson, Leafy Mary Lohr, Zora "Zoe" Philson, William R. Philson, Pauline Hamer, Dorothy Youngren Lowry and John Leonard Philson, plus sons George who died at age two in 1902 and son Curtis who died in 1904.

Federal census enumeration records for 1910 show the Philsons living in Jenner Township, Somerset County, with Speer employed as a coal mine superintendent. At that time, they kept five boarders in their home. Circa the early 1920s, the Philsons resided in Ralphton, where Speer worked as a laborer.

Then in about 1922-1923, they relocated to Jennerstown, Somerset County, and acquired an aged hotel, known as the White Star. Located 60 miles from Pittsburgh, it sat at the intersection of U.S. Routes 30 and 219, with Route 30 only having been paved five years earlier. Speer envisioned that the business would provide employment for as many of their children as were interested, and it came to pass.

 

White Star Hotel in Jennerstown, before the 1930 fire

 

The Philsons were members of the Jennerstown Fire Department and the Jennerstown Evangelical United Brethren Church. Speer was active with the Jennerstown Chamber of Commerce and involved with "various civic enterprises of the community," reported the Meyersdale Republican.

Grief cascaded over the family when their daughter Pauline Hamer died after surgery in early November 1928 as a patient in Memorial Hospital in nearby Johnstown, Cambria County.

Just three weeks later, the mourning Speer suffered a stroke of apoplexy and died in the hotel on Nov. 24, 1928. Funeral services were held in the hotel, led by Rev. J.S. Shannon of the family church, with burial in Salisbury's Odd Fellows Cemetery.

The widowed Sarah Catherine inherited the hotel and ran it for another 35 years.

Disaster struck on Feb. 21, 1930 when fire destroyed the hotel, just a few months after the Great Depression had begun. The Simpson's Leader Times of Kittanning reported that "Guests at the hotel, a two-story frame structure, were forced to flee from the building in their night clothing. For a time the blaze threatened to destroy Ye Old Inn, across the highway..." The Pittsburgh Press estimated the financial loss at $40,000.

Sarah Catherine lost no time in deciding to rebuild. Contractors agreed to do the work, and began the process. But no bank was in a position to provide her a mortgage with which to pay the builders. Reported the Pittsburgh Press, "The Philsons called all their creditors together and promised to pay everyone in full if they were permitted to open for business. By 1931 they had paid $100,000 in debts and were in the clear." Many of the children, among them Zora, Florence, William and John actively helped in the management.

The White Star became a destination for Pittsburghers who enjoyed a drive into the country on a warm summer's eve or for a Sunday afternoon dinner. The hotel took on further popularity when automobile engineers from Detroit discovered its charms while doing testing of brakes on the steep mountain roads in the region. One of the Philson daughters, Dorothy, ended up marrying one of the engineers.

As a widow, suffering from congestive heart failure and hardening of the arteries, Sarah Catherine went to live in the Neilcliff Manor Nursing Home in Johnstown, Cambria County. She died there at the age of 94 on Jan. 11, 1966. John L. Philson of Jennerstown signed the Pennsylvania certificate of death. Officiating at the funeral service was Rev. William E. Wineberg, and interment of the remains followed in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Salisbury, Somerset County. An obituary in the Somerset Daily American said that "She operated the White Star Hotel for 40 years. Her sons and daughters now operate the establishment."

The year after Sarah Catherine's death, her children, ranging in age from 72 to 58, decided it was time to move on. In an article in the Pittsburgh Press, famed columnist Gilbert Love wrote that "Here's a bit of news that will jolt thousands of persons in Pittsburgh, Detroit and elsewhere: The Philson family is going out of the hotel business." He then went on to tell the history of the business and the family.

The heirs eventually bundled the hotel and a number of adjacent properties into what became White Star Village, Jennerstown.

Daughter Maude Philson (1890-1938) was born on June 28, 1890. She married John Harclerode ( ? - ? ). They are known to have dwelled in Somerset, PA. Tragically, Maude contracted cancer of the left breast, and she underwent a mastectomy in November 1936. The cancer returned in the lungs, and she died just a few weeks before her 48th birthday on June 16, 1938. Burial took place in Salisbury in the International Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery.

Daughter Mary Massella Philson (1892-1980) was born in about 1892. She wedded John Griffith ( ? - ? ). They were in Jenners in 1928 and Jennerstown in 1966.

Daughter Florence Elizabeth "Flo" Philson (1893-1984) never married. She resided in the family hotel in Jennerstown and actively helped her mother and siblings to run the business.

 

Somerset County
Memorial Park

Daughter Leafy May Philson (1894-1967) was born on Dec. 10, 1894. She lived in Jenner as a young woman. On July 10, 1912, she married Luther Sell Lohr ( ? - ? ), son of Edmund and Rosa Lohr of Quemahoning. The couple produced one daughter, Eleanor Marie Sann. Circa 1966, they lived in Hooversville, Somerset County. Leafy was felled by a heart attack and admitted to Memorial Hospital in nearby Johnstown, Cambria County. There, she was carried away by the Angel of Death at the age of 72 on Aug. 11, 1969. Interment of the remains was in Somerset County Memorial Park.

  • Granddaughter Eleanor Marie Lohr (1912-1991) married (?) Sann.

Daughter Zora Magdalene "Zoe" Philson (1896-1985) was born in about 1896. She did not marry and, like her sister Florence, made a home in the White Star Hotel for decades.

Son William Robert Philson (1903-1974) was born on Nov. 5, 1903 in Manns Choice, Bedford County. He wedded Rae Cobern ( ? - ? ). They were the parents of a son, John R. Philson MD. The family dwelled in Jennerstown, where William assisted his mother and siblings in managing the White Star Hotel for decades. He also served as postmaster in Jennerstown and, with his brother John, was a part-owner in the Jennerstown Speedway, a half-mile, flat dirt track for stock car and sprint car racing. The Philsons belonged to the Laurel Trinity Lutheran Church, where William served as treasurer of the congregation. He was a member of the Somerset and Pittsburgh lodges of the Masons. At the age of 70, William died in Memorial Hospital in Johnstown, Cambria County on March 11, 1974. Burial was in Somerset County Memorial Park, with Rev. Jesse E. Wolf presiding.

  • Grandson John R. Philson, MD established a home in Willingboro, NC and was there in 1974.

Daughter Pauline Philson (1905-1928) was born on Oct. 31, 1906 in Ralphton, Somerset County. She was joined in the bonds of matrimony with Kenneth Hamer ( ? - ? ). The couple established a residence in Hooversville. But the marriage was not fated to be long. In late 1927, Pauline began to experience pain from gallstones which created blockages. She endured the discomfort for a year but eventually underwent surgery in Memorial Hospital in nearby Johnstown. Sadly, she suffered an embolism which killed her two days after the operation. Death occurred on Nov. 2, 1928, two days after her 23rd birthday. Burial was in Jenners.

 

Speedway admission ticket

Daughter Dorothy Philson (1908-1967) -- also spelled "Dorotha" -- was born on Nov. 29, 1908. She was married twice. Her first husband was (?) Youngren ( ? - ? ), believed to have been an automotive engineer from Detroit who had stayed at the hotel. They produced a son, Louis P. Youngren. Later, she was united in matrimony with Col. Paul B. Lowry ( ? - ? ). The couple relocated to Tucson, AZ and were members of the Tucson Lutheran Church. Their address in the 1960s was 2738 East Third Street. Sadly, at the age of 58, Dorothy died at home on April 3, 1967. Her remains were transported back to Somerset County to rest in the county Memorial Park, with Rev. Ralph E. Blair preaching the funeral. An obituary appeared in the Somerset Daily American.

Son John Leonard Philson (1911-1980) was born on Jan. 24, 1911 in Ralphton, Somerset County. On Nov. 24, 1932, he was united in wedlock with Mary Lucinda "Tinny" Sipe ( ? -1991), daughter of Cloyd Sipe of Jennerstown. The nuptials were held at the Jennerstown Reformed Church, presided by Rev. B.H. Bauder, with 100 in attendance. Reported the Meyersdale Republican, "The bride was attired in a dark blue traveling suit trimmed in gray squirrel and carried a bouquet of yellow rosebuds. She wore a hat to match." Upon their return from a honeymoon, the couple established a home in the White Star Hotel, where he was employed as assistant hotel manager. During World War II, John joined the U.S. Army and was deployed to the Pacific Theatre. He and his siblings assisted their mother in managing the hotel property for decades. The Philsons were members of the Mount Laurel United Church of Christ, and John was active with the Boswell Post of the American Legion, the Somerset lodge of the Masons and the Jennerstown Volunteer Fire Department. Circa 1957, John was elected vice president of a re-established Lincoln Highway Assoiciation. By 1967, he also had purchased a motorcycle shop. He and his brother William eventually became part owners of the famed Jennerstown Speedway, a half-mile, flat dirt track for stock car and sprint car racing. He passed into eternity on Aug. 2, 1980, at the age of 69, as a patient in Johnstown's Memorial Hospital. After John's death, Mary continued to make a home in Jennerstown. She died at the age of 79 on Feb. 12, 1991.

 

~ Daughter Elizabeth Matilda "Lizzie" (May) Hillegass ~

Daughter Elizabeth Matilda "Lizzie" May (1874-1955) was born on Aug. 27, 1874 in Buffalo Mills, Juniata Township, Bedford County.

In about 1895, when both were 21 years of age, Lizzie wedded George Hillegass (Jan. 26, 1874-1954), son of Henry and Marie (Turner) Hillegass of Bedford County, also spelled "Hilligas."

Seven known children were born to this union, among them Stanford A. Hillegas, Jesse U. Hillegass, Mary M. Hillegass, Marcus Hillegass, Clyde Hillegass, Edward Hillegass and Russell Hillegass.

The family lived for six decades in Boynton, a small community in Elk Lick Township along the Casselman River near Salisbury, Somerset County. They were longtime members of St. John's Evangelical and Reformed Church in Salisbury.

Federal census records for 1900 show George earning a living as a coal mine laborer.

By 1910, his work had changed, and he was employed as a bridge carpenter for a railroad company.

George turned to farming during the decade of the 1910s and is shown in this occupation in the 1920 census.

All of the children had left the parental home by 1930. That year, George had returned to coal mining as his source of income. As well, 54-year-old Harry May dwelled under their roof.

The eastern seabord suffered heavy flooding due to Hurricane Hazel in the autumn of 1954. Rains poured from South Carolina to Toronto, Canada. In a high water area, on the fateful day of Oct. 15, 1954, George was wading near the home of his son Stanford when he was overcome by heart failure and died. He was 80 years of age. An obituary in the Meyersdale Republican said he had been "a coal miner for about 50 years, and after retiring from that occupation, he served as janitor of the Boynton School for a number of years, and also worked on road construction projects." Rev. Ira S. Mann performed the funeral service at the family church.

Suffering from uremia and heart problems as a widow, Elizabeth succumbed to death on March 8, 1955, at the age of 80. Russell Hillegas of Akron, OH was the informant for the Pennsylvania death certificate, which he signed. Her remains were lowered into eternal repose in the International Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery in Salisbury. Rev. E. Wilson Kelley, of the Meyersdale Methodist Church, preached her funeral sermon.

Son Stanford A. Hillegass (1895-1987) was born on April 6, 1895 in Bedford County. He was united in the bonds of holy matrimony with Elizabeth C. Holler ( ? - ? ). Their family of children included Tolva Maxine Gnagey, Doris Arlene Will, Betty Hillegas and Gale L. "Mik" Hillegas. Stanford supported the family through his work as a highway construction foreman. Over the years, they dwelled in Boynton, Somerset County and were members of St. John's United Church of Christ.. Stanford passed into eternity at the age of 92, at home, on Sept. 10, 1987. The funeral and subsequent burial in Salisbury Cemetery were officiated by Rev. Mark J. Stewart. An obituary in the Somerset Daily American counted Stanford's survivors as six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

  • Granddaughter Tolva Maxine Hillegas (1917-2003) was born on July 23, 1917 in Boynton. She married Homer C. Gnagey (July 7, 1913-1981), a Pittsburgh native and the son of Homer H. and Kathleen P. (Croft) Gnagey. The couple produced four offspring -- Preston Gnagey, Margie G. Goetz, Glenda Westcoat and Elizabeth K. "Beth" Statler Cook. Tolva earned a living through employment with the U.S. Post Office. Upon her retirement, for two decades, she sold Avon products. She belonged to St. John's United Church of Christ and held a membership in the Salisbury Fireman's Auxiliary and American Legion Auxiliary. She loved music and was a piano playere. Homer was employed by Westinghouse Electric Corporation and later the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, from which he retired. Active in the community, he was a president of Salisbury Borough Council, president of the Salisbury Volunteer Fire Department, secretary-treasurer of the Salisbury Ambulance Association and and member of the Salisbury Water Company. Sadly, the 67-year-old Homer succumbed to death on July 10, 1981. Tolva remained Salisbury at 122 Grant Street and outlived her spouse by 22 years. She passed into eternity at the age of 86, in Conemaugh Memorial Hospital in Johnstown, on Sept. 3, 2003. Rev. Paul L. Westcoat and Rev. Ruth S. Kershner led the funeral service at the family church, with the remains laid to rest in Salisbury Cemetery. An obituary appeared in the Somerset Daily American.

 

St. John's Catholic Church, New Baltimore -- the famed church along the Pennsylvania Turnpike -- where Edward and Doris Will were memberss.

 

  • Purple Heart medal
    Granddaughter Doris Arlene Hillegas (1920-1998) was born on March 12, 1920 in Boynton. She wedded Edward J. Will (May 26, 1917-2000), son of Gregory A. and Clara (Fisher) Will. While the couple did not reproduce, their union endured for four decades. Edward served in the U.S. Army during World War II, holding the rank of master sergeant, and was twice-wounded. At the second wound, he was captured by the Grmany Army and officially was listed as "missing in action." Eventually he received the Purple Heart medal. Doris worked as a sales clerk for Straub Brothers in Bedford and for Fairfoot Shoe Factory and Salisbury Undergarment in Salisbury. Edward earned a living over time with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and for 31 years with the U.S. Postmaster in New Baltimore, Somerset County, where he held the position of postmaster. She belonged to St. John's United Church of Christ in Salisbury and St. John the Baptist Catholic Church of New Baltimore, while he served as an Allegheny Township Supervisor. Their home in 1987 was in Berlin and in 1998 in New Baltimore at 105 Wambaugh Hollow Road. In retirement, Doris held a membership in the National Association of Retired Federal Employees, while Edward belonged to the Military Order of the Purple Heart's Forbes Road Chapter, the Disabled American Veterans chapter in Berlin, the Last Man's Club of Berlin, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (for 53 years) and the Somerset post of the American Legion. In addition, he served as president of the New Baltimore Sportman's Club and was a member of the 28th Division Heritage Association, 112th Infantry Regiment, the National Association of Retired Federal Employees and the Somerset County Postmasters Association. Sadly, Doris died at the age of 77, as a patient in Conemaugh Memorial Hospital in Johnstown, on Feb. 21, 1998. Her mass of Christian burial was sung at the St. John the Baptist church, led by Rev. Mark Gegly, with assistance from Rev. Ray Brown and Rev. Dr. Paul Westcoat. Her remains were lowered into eternal sleep in St. John's Church Cemetery. The Somerset Daily American ran an obituary. Edward lived as a widower for another two years. Death carried him into eternity at the age of 82, on Jan. 2, 2000, in UPMC Bedford Memorial Hospital.
  • Granddaughter Betty Hillegas never married. She lived in Boynton in 1987. She was deceased by 2003.
  • Grandson Gale L. "Mik" Hillegas dwelled in Salisbury.

Son Jesse U. Hillegass (1897- ? ) was born in June 1897. Unmarried at the age of 22, in 1920, he worked as a coal miner in the Elk Lick region. He migrated to Ohio and married Olla F. (1898-1996). In 1954, they lived in Randolph, Portage County. Jesse died on April 16, 1986. He sleeps for eternity in Randolph's Hillside Cemetery.

Daughter Mary M. Hillegass (1900- ? ) was born in Jan. 1900. She was joined in marriage with (?) Couchenour ( ? - ? ). The couple migrated to Iowa and were located in University Park, IA in 1954 and Vincennes, IN in 1987..

Son Marcus Hillegass (1901-1978) was born on Oct. 3, 1901. He appears to have been named for his grandfather Marcus May. When he was 18 years of age, he earned income as a driver in a local coal mine. He married Ruth E. Harclerode (1905-1994) and dwelled in Boynton in 1954. The Angel of Death carried Marcus away at the age of 76 on Aug. 21, 1978. Interment was in Salisbury Odd Fellows Cemetery.

Son Clyde Henry Hillegass (1903- ? ) was born on July 20, 1903. He grew up assisting his father on the family farm. He was twice married. His first bride was Edna Bowman ( ? -1941). Sadly, she died in 1941. Then in 1944, he married again to Dorothy Ella Herbert (1920-2009). The couple's home in the mid-1950s was in Boynton.

Son Edward E. Hillegass (1904- ? ) was born on Dec. 23, 1904. He was joined in matrimony with Pauline A. Trent (1908-1998). They established a residence in Boynton. He succumbed to death on Oct. 25, 1991. Pauline lived for another seven years. She died in Boynton on June 30, 1998. An obituary ran in the Cumberland (MD) Times-News.

Son Russell Hillegass (1908- ? ) was born in about 1908. In 1954-1955, at the deaths of both parents, he was living in Akron, OH. By 1987, he had migrated to Atlanta.

 

~ Son Adam May ~

Son Adam May (1879- ? ) was born in about 1879 in Juniata Township, Bedford County.

 

Copyright 2017, 2020 Mark A. Miner

Research for this page provided by MayHouse.org, the late Olive (Rowan) Duff, the late Donna (Younkin) Logan and the late Helen (Miller) Robertson. May brothers image courtesy Suzanne (Smith) Chutis.