MAGISTERIAL RESOLUTIONS OF RESPECT AND OTHER RECORDS
MADISON COUNTY, TENNESSEE

By Jonathan K. T. Smith
Copyright, Jonathan K. T. Smith, 1996

MAY CEMETERY

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            Located near the residence of the Richard Bailey family at the end of Stanfill Road .5 mile south of its juncture with Waynick Road which road is 1.1 mile east of its juncture with U.S. Highway 70-East in northeast Madison County. The exact location of this family graveyard has been lost because about 1941 the tombstones in it were taken closer to the house by a former resident and the burial site was eventually obliterated. Older persons familiar with its location indicate that it is about .2 mile in a southerly direction from the Bailey residence in what is presently a cotton field. The map of this area, adopted for use in this article, shows its relative direction from the Bailey residence, standing looking towards the house from the end of Stanfill Road; in other words in this stance it is to the right of the residence about .2 mile. Through the kind cooperation of Richard Bailey and two of his relatives, the two surviving tombstones, actually the top slabs of two individual box vaults, were made available to this writer, September 5, 1996, at which time the data were taken from them and pictures made of them as well. These inscriptions read (along with the lower right fragment of another slab tombstone bearing the stone-cutter's firm in Memphis, Tennessee):

 

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JOHN MAY
Born in Anson Co., N.C.
1772
Died Octr. 13th
1843
Blessed are the dead wich die in the Lord.

NANCY
Wife of
JOHN MAY
Born Jan. 2, 1788
Died Jan. 30, 1868

 

If we miss them below we shall miss_____

J White, Mem. Tenn.

)

 

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            JOHN MAY was married to NANCY GREER in Davidson County, Tennessee, February 6, 1805 (bond). After a number of years, about 1822, the Mays left middle Tennessee and moved into Madison County. John May first appears on the 1823 tax list with 240 acres located in Surveyor District 9, Range 1, Section 11. The next year he also appeared with the 240 acres but thereafter William May is listed with 240 acres, perhaps the same land but by arrangement, William May gained legal title to it and sold this acreage to John May, for $500, February 25, 1829. (Madison County Deed Book 2, page 400; deed recorded September 16, 1830) John and William May appear in the tax listings through 1832 (Madison Co. Tax Book, 1822-1832, pages 17, 47, 80, etc.) Evidently this 240 acres served as the "core" of the several-hundred acre plantation developed by the Mays in old Civil District 12.

            On May 11, 1822 Nancy Greer May's father, Martin Greer, executed his will, in his long-time home in Davidson County, Tennessee. In it he bequeathed his daughter, Nancy May, a horse and saddle, featherbed and furniture, cow and calf, two ewes and lambs, being property he had already given her at the time of her marriage. To each of his other children, the same bequests were made except for his daughter, Polly Vaughan, who was to receive nothing further from his estate except for ten pounds at her mother's demise. The other children were Joseph, Benjamin, Green Berry, Elizabeth, James W. and William H. His appointed his wife, Mary, and sons Joseph and Benjamin as executors of his will. Greer died the same year and his will was duly probated and recorded September 3, 1822. (Davidson County Will Book 8, pages 123-124)

            Shortly before September 1, 1828, Nancy Greer May and her brother, Green Berry Greer, provided their sister, Mary (Polly) Greer, formerly the wife of Samuel Vaughan from whom she was divorced, an equal portion of their shares of the estate of Martin Greer; they felt that she had been slighted in their father's will and her circumstances were "destitute." John and Nancy May, living then in Madison County, both signed the deed (registered on the above date in 1828) with "x" marks. (Madison County Deed Book 2, page 123)

            After a long life that had begun in southwestern North Carolina Anson County John May died and was buried on his homeplace located on the now long-abandoned Spring Creek to Cotton Grove Road. On October 6, 1843 he executed his will, leaving slaves individually to his children: Mary Taylor, John May, Philip May, William May (his heirs); sons-in-law, William C. Hutcherson and Dawson D. Bennett and a granddaughter, Mary Fenner Newsom (a daughter from Mary Taylor's first marriage). The remainder of the estate went to his widow, Nancy May. The will was probated November 6, 1843. (Madison County Will Book 4, pages 97-98; County Court Minute Book 5, page 222)

            The next February 1, Nancy May gave several slaves to John May, W. C. Hutcherson, Dawson D. Bennett and the heirs of William May, noting in the deed that she had already made a separate deed for slaves to Mary Taylor. (IBID. Deed Book 9, page 352) In the agricultural schedule of the 1850 U.S. Census, October 25, Madison County, page 675, Nancy May is listed with 400 improved (cultivated) acres and. 200 unimproved acres (woodland, uncultivated acreage), valued at $4200. In the past year 3000 bushels of Indian corn had been raised on the place. Cotton had been grown and gathered into 50 bales, each weighing 400 pounds. There were other foodstuffs raised on the place as well as a varied livestock holding. By 1865, Nancy May owned some 900 acres of land, valued at $9000. (Federal Direct Tax List, Madison County, Civil District 12, 1865-1866)

            It is likely that Nancy May was a Methodist because when she executed her will, February 4, 1867, she appointed a minister of that denomination, the Reverend Benjamin A. Hays, executor of her will, by which document she provided that her lands be sold and the proceeds divided equally among her children and grandchildren, Mary Taylor, Nancy G. Bennett, Elizabeth P. Hutcher-

 

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son, heirs of her sons William and John, except for grandson, Christopher E. May who was to receive nothing, as he had been given a legacy beforehand. Again, she signed her will with an "x" mark. This will was probated in February 1868, shortly after her death. (Madison County Will Book A, page 67)

            On November 14, 1868 Benjamin Hays, as executor, sold to William Blackmon 327 acres in Civil District 12, part of the place on which Nancy May had lived "for many years prior to her death," for $6875.70. (Madison County Deed Book 28, page 176) On the same date he sold 404 acres to John J. and William Blackmon, for $6954.60, part of her homestead, reserving out of it, 3/4 acre for the family graveyard and 1/2 acre for colored persons' graveyard. (Madison County Deed Book 29, page 499)

            On January 1, 1874 John and William Blackmon sold to Malcolm Hewlitt Goodrich, for $7300, some 119 acres of the old May place off the Cotton Grove Road (according to the deed), making the same provisions for the same graveyards. (Madison County Deed Book 41, page 300) The place remained a part of the M. H. Goodrich (1829-1898) homestead for many years but the portion containing the old house-place and the graveyards descended to his son, Ireneus Cicero Goodrich, then to the latter's son-in-law, Charles P. Waynick and then subsequently to owners Duke, Blankenship, Stanfill, Norwood and Bailey.

            The 1840 U.S. census (Madison County, page 94) indicates that John May owned 32 slaves; the October 1850 ibid. indicates that Nancy May owned 30 slaves. The slave graveyard, now identified only as an area covered with the yuca plant, is about .3 mile in a southerly direction from the Bailey residence apparently is the burial site for many blacks who lived on the May place and perhaps a few were buried there after emancipation.

            The children of John and Nancy May:

  1. WILLIAM MAY; married Nancy Brown in Madison County, March 3, 1829. He executed his will, October 8, 1835 in which he left his estate to his "beloved wife," Nancy; he appointed his esteemed father, John May, as executor. He died in 1836, his will being probated May 2, that year. (Madison County Will Book 4, page 415) His body was probably buried in the May family graveyard and the fragment of tombstone recently found may have been part of his tombstone. It would appear that his wife, Nancy, had married, first a Brown, but was a daughter of Eldridge Newsom, as a legatee of whom, along with a brother, John R. Newsom, sold their interest in 150 acres in their father's estate to James Newsom, Dec. 23, 1833. (Madison County Deed Book 5, page 27) Eldridge Newsom's widow, Mary, conveyed her dower interest in his lands to their son, James Newsom, July 28, 1837, land located on both sides of Meridian Creek south of Jackson. (See Madison County Deed Book 5, page 419.)
  2. MARY MAY (October 19, 1807-January 18, 1890), who first married a Newsom, who died leaving her with a child, Mary Fenner Newsom. In a marriage contract with her second husband, Jesse Taylor (Oct. 26, 1791-May 3, 1860), dated August 15, 1835, they agreed that she could sell her own property that she would bring to their marriage but at his death, his Texas property would be shared among their children and the children he had by a previous marriage. Witnessed by W. C. Hutcherson, John May, Nancy G. Bennett and Elizabeth Hutcherson. (Madison County Deed Book 4, page 247)

            The Taylors lived in Lexington, Henderson County, Tennessee, their family consisting of parents and four children in the 1850 U.S. Census, Henderson County, page 371: Jesse Taylor, age 59, born in Va.; Mary Taylor, age 45, born in Tenn.; Mary L. Taylor, age 13; John Taylor, age 12; Ann Taylor, age 9; Charles Taylor, age 5; all children born in Tennessee. Taylor had become

 

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a resident of Henderson County in 1834; the next year he began to serve as clerk of the county court in which office he served until 1859. He died of heart dropsy the next year. He and his wife and their son, John M. Taylor and others of the latter's family are buried within a metal fence in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Lexington.

            A son, JOHN MAY TAYLOR (May 18, 1838-February 17, 1911), graduated from the law school of Cumberland University, Lebanon, Tennessee in 1860; had begun his law career in Henderson County when shortly afterwards the Civil War broke out and he enlisted in Company K, 27th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, CSA, acting as first lieutenant; in several battles, including Shiloh, he was badly wounded at the battle of Perryville, Kentucky, October 8, 1862; hospitalized; captured by the Federals, May 1863; exchanged he later served under General Gideon Pillow and was parolled in Meridian, Miss. in May 1865. He resumed the practice of law; entered politics, serving in several noteworthy roles, a delegate to the state Constitutional Convention, 1870; as a Representative, General Assembly of Tennessee, 1881-1882 and as Representative, U.S. Congress, 1883-1887; "appointed judge of criminal court, 11th Judicial Circuit of Tennessee, 1895, and later elected for a six-year term, serving until court was abolished by legislature; elected, 1902, a judge on state Court of Chancery Appeals, soon changed to Court of Civil Appeals; re-elected in 1910 and served until death." Sometime mayor of Lexington, president of the Bank of Lexington from 1906, he was also a member of several fraternal organizations. BIOGRAPHICAL DIRECTORY OF THE TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, edited by Robert M. McBride, volume 2 (Nashville, 1979), pages 887-889. Judge Taylor was married to Amanda McHaney (1845-1931), October 10, 1864 and they had several children.

            Continuing with the children of John and Nancy May:

  1. JOHN MAY, JR., Of whom nothing is known, by this writer, except that he married, had children and predeceased his mother.
  2. PHILIP MAY, of whom nothing is known, by this writer, except that he was married to Caroline Dent, May 26, 1830 and had children and predeceased his mother.
  3. ELIZABETH P. MAY (Sept. 20, 1814-May 26, 1895), who married William C. Hutcherson (variously spelled), in 1830. According to his tombstone in Riverside Cemetery, Jackson, he was born Nov. 6, 1805 and died Nov. 21, 1875. At the time of his death, William Hutcherson and his wife were living in the old, two-story brick mansion formerly owned by Adam Huntsman near Jackson. This estate, 300 acres, he left to his widow; the 1150 acre plantation near Cotton Grove, the former homeplace, he left to his children: Nancy W., wife of Dr. Levi B. Herron (grandparents of the Hon. Herron Pearson, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives); Ann Elizabeth, wife of N. C. Edwards; Laura V., wife of Thomas A. Reid; Tennessee A., wife of Thomas C. Harbert; Adelaide J., wife of Harvey M. Milligan; Ida, wife of Benjamin Word Rebecca Hutcherson. (Madison County Will Book A, pages 210-211; will probated Dec. 1875) His obituary in THE JACKSON SUN, November 26, 1875 gives his birth place as Virginia; died in home of his son-in-law, Harvey Milligan. By Madison Chancery Court decree, Oct. 6, 1877, the Adam Huntsman place was divested from Elizabeth P. Hutcherson and her children to C. W. Malone. There was a debt on the estate that had to be paid. (Madison County Deed Book 37, page 504) The sons, William, Thomas and another dau., Jane, may have died young.
  4. NANCY G. MAY, born about 1819; married Dawson D. Bennett, with whom she had children (U.S. Census, Madison Co., C. D. 12, page 661): Mary E., age 16 years; Nancy T., age 14 years; Lydia A., age 10 years; Ann A., age 7 years; John D., age 5 years; Helen E., age 2 years. The Bennetts appear to have sold out in Madison County in 1858-1859 and moved away.

 

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