John and Charity Taylor May

Using information from two well researched books – Ann K. Blomquist’s Taylors and Tates of the South, and Jim W. Kuhlman’s The History of the Nance Hereford Ranch – here is a time line for John and Charity Taylor May.


Charity Taylor, the oldest child of James and Ann Owen Taylor, was born June 6, 1757, in Cumberland, Virginia. (See notes below)


John May, son of James Harvey and Elizabeth King May, was born November 1760 in Essex County, Virginia.


John began his service in the Revolutionary War in April 1777, in Henry County, Virginia. His company served for 3 months in Christy’s Campaign against the Cherokee Indians.


John May and Charity Taylor were married June 24, 1779 in Henry County, Virginia.


Beginning in December of 1779, John was a “mounted gunman”and served for 12 months.


John served the third time in the summer of 1781 as a substitute for Mile Jennings (military).


John and Charity had 9 children between 1780 & 1794 – Phalby, son, Isabelle, Leroy, son, William, son, son and Charity.


John May was listed in the tax records beginning in 1782. He did not own land at that time, but he owned and was taxed on 2 horses and 5 head of cattle. He continued to appear in the tax lists in 1786, 1788, 1789, 1790, 1791, 1793 and 1794. In 1787, his tax included slaves that he owned.


In January 1783, John bought 119 acres of land on Marrowbone Creek from father-in-law, James Taylor.


John and Charity May had 5 more children between 1796 & 1803, son, Nellie, George, Mary and Peter.


John May sells Marrowbone Creek land and the May family “began moving as a pioneer family.” John May bought 120 acres on the south side of the Swannanoa River (Buncombe County, North Carolina) in October 1797. Later he added 50 more acres and then, in 1807, he sells all 170 acres to a James Wilson.


During 1807 & 1814, it is not known where the May family lived.“However, since a John May was listed in 1812 Franklin Co. TN voters list, and their son Leroy May made his home in Franklin Co. for many years, it seems reasonable to believe that the Mays lived in the Franklin Co. area.” (Blomquist)


In Grainger County, TN, John May bought a female slave name Silah from his father-in-law, James Taylor, for $400. In August 1816, he also purchased 359 ¾ acres in Blount County, TN from David Dearman. He later sold 249 acres of this tract to his wife’s kinsman, Daniel Taylor, son of Daniel Taylor and grandson of James Taylor.


On September 3, 1816, Charity writes a letter to either Martha Pittman or Edward Adams. In it, she stated that she had 13 children, but 2 sons died in TN. She states that 2 sons and 3 daughters are married at that time, with one of girls, Nellie, married to a Cherokee Indian. Charity was 59 years old, an old age considering the times and conditions. (See notes below)


John and Charity appear on the 1830 census of McMinn Co., TN.


In 1832, both John May and his brother William May filed for pensions as Revolutionary War veterans.


John May died December 28, 1839 in Polk Co., TN. In 1839, Polk Co. was formed from part of McMinn Co., so there is some question about where John and Charity were living when they died.


Charity May was included in the 1840 United States Federal Census with the James Hawkins household (son-in-law & daughter, Mary).


Charity May died December 27, 1842 in Polk Co., TN.


Adams, Lela C., Abstracts of Deed Books 5 & 6 of Henry County, Virginia, 1979. 1800 United States Federal Census [database online], Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004. 1830 United States Federal Census [database online], Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004.

Bell, George M., Genealogy of Old and New Cherokee Indian Families, 1972.

Blomquist, Ann K., Taylors and Tates of the South, Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland, 1993.

Blount County, Tennessee, Deed Books 1 & 2, County Clerk’s Office, Maryville, Tennessee.

Bunscombe County, Deed Books 3 & 4, A & B, 10 & 14, County Clerk’s Office, Asheville, North Carolina.

Crozier, William Armstrong, editor, Virginia County Records, Volume II, Virginia Colonial Militia, 1651-1776, Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, Maryland, 1986.

Dodd, Virginia Anderton, Henry County, Virginia Marriage Bonds, 1778-1849.

“Franklin County, Tennessee Historical Review,” 1988.

Grainger County, Deed Book C, County Clerk’s Office, Rutledge, Tennessee.

Henry County, Deed Books 2 & 3, County Clerk’s Office, Martinsville, Virginia.

Henry County, marriage record, County Clerk’s Office, Martinsville, Virginia.

Henry County, Tax Records, 1782-1979, County Clerk’s Office, Martinsville, Virginia.

James Taylor, will, County Clerk’s Office, Rutledge, Tennessee.

Kuhlman, Jim W., The History of the Nance Hereford Ranch, 1996.

Sheffield, Ella, Grainger County, Tennessee Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions Record Book 3, 1812-1816, 1983.

Starr, Emmett, Old Cherokee Families, Baker Publishing Co., 1987.

Stewart, William C., Gone to Georgia, 1965.

White, Virgil D., Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files, Volume II: F-M, The National Historical Publishing Co., Waynesboro, Tennessee, 1991.


  1. Charity May was the first of the 9 children of James Taylor and Ann Owen. She was probably born in Cumberland Co., VA and spent her childhood there, but about 1770, her parents moved to the part of Pittsylvania Co., VA that later became Henry Co. Like all of the Taylor daughters, Charity was educated, so she could read and write. (Blomquist, p. 88)
  2. Current information also indicates that 3 of Charity’s children married Cherokee Indians. Nellie married William Rogers (1/16 Cherokee) who came from a prominent Cherokee family. Peter married Alzira (1/16 Cherokee), a daughter of Looney Price and Nannie Rogers. And George married Mary Jane Upton whose mother was a Cherokee. This is family lore and has not been documented. (Blomquist, p. 90)
  3. Charity May’s letter transciption. Charity-Mays-Letter.pdf (click link)

John May Family Group Sheet (click link) John May FGS





George May

George May was born September 13, 1798 in what is now McMinn County, Tennessee. At that time, this beautiful country was a part of North Carolina and Indian Territory. In fact, the territory currently included in McMinn County in southeastern Tennessee formed a part of the Hiwassee River District which the Cherokee Indians ceded to the United States by a treaty. In researching George May, I found that Native American people played a big role in his life – a colorful life destined for adventure in unknown territories.

George was the twelfth child of John and Charity Taylor May. Even though it is unimaginable to most of us today, at that time large families were not uncommon. Family information indicates that perhaps as many as five of the May children may have died at birth or shortly thereafter. The strength of these rugged men and women living in primitive country in unsettling times is amazing to me.

George was 26 years old when he married Mary Jane Upton on February 18, 1825. Like one of his siblings (Nellie), he married a Cherokee. This is the family lore that has been handed down through the years. Jim W. Kuhlman wrote the book, The History of the Nance Hereford Ranch, and has a great deal of information about the May family. Here is what he has to say about George and Mary Jane’s marriage.

It has been handed down, although there are no records, that George May married Mary Jane Upton on February 18, 1825. Another piece of history that has been handed down through the family was that Mary Upton was born on March 22, 1806, at old Fort Lewis, an army post near Chattanooga, Tennessee. Mary’s mother was a Cherokee maiden who married a U.S. Army officer. Although a marriage of this type might seem unusual, interracial marriages between the Indians and white Americans were fairly common even in those days. (Kuhlman, 24)


The Mayes were like countless other courageous folks of that time who had a desire to move west. Even though the stories of our pioneer ancestors answering the call to “go west, young man, go west” sound adventurous to us, I doubt that adventure was their driving force. Perhaps the source of their pioneer spirit was the promise of the land or more freedom. Both George and Mary Jane had a connection with the Indians, and I wonder if that was a major influence on them.

Several years after they married, George and Mary Jane struck out on their journey west. During those years, they started a family. Family records say James Sanders was born September 15, 1825.

George and Mary May came to Texas around 1830. She was the only woman to make the trip to Texas with a group of men, riding all the way on horseback, with pack horses carrying all their belongings, along with a young son approximately four to five years of age. Can you imagine a youngster making this long arduous trip across the hills and valleys? There is some indication that they were at Fort Gibson in Oklahoma territory in 1829. Sam Houston was there that same year. (Kuhlman, 27)

By 1830 George and Mary Jane May were in Texas, settling first in Nacogdoches. At one time this area was considered the “east gateway to the Texas territory.” About the time the May family arrived, they were among many immigrants from the United States coming into this Mexican province. Among this stream of people were various Indian groups which had been driven out of the Old South. There is evidence they stayed there for about five to six years, and we know those were tumultuous times as the “clouds of revolution” gathered. When the Texas Revolution began in 1836, Nacogdoches was a “seat of unrest and supplied the revolutionary cause with men and money.” (Handbook of Texas Online)

During these unsettled times, life went on for George and Mary Jane. On February 19, 1833, she gave birth to a daughter, Malinda Josephine. According to the Census Report of Williams Settlement, April 21 1835 (Nacogdoches Archives) the May family was continuing to live in the area. Listed are George May, 37 years old; Mary May, 29 years old; James Sanders, 8 years old; and Josephine M. May, 2 years old. It was only a few days later that they had another child. A son was born on April 30, 1835, and he was named after George and Mary Jane’s friend, Sam Houston.

Sometime in the late 1830’s George and Mary Jane moved to Marshall, a small village in Harrison County, Texas. It is believed they were living here when on January 11, 1838, Mary Jane gave birth to a son, Isaac Upton. It is possible he was named for Mary Jane’s father, but there are no records verifying information about her father. Unfortunately, the boy had a very short life, dying less than a year later on January 3, 1839. Even though it seems unbelievable, Mary Jane gave birth to another son, John, on October 25, 1839, proving she was a woman of remarkable strength!


These were tumultuous times with War for Texas Independence raging. In his research of records and letters, Jim Kuhlman found valuable information about George May’s involvement. He was a surveyor for Jim Bowie (of the Battle of the Alamo fame) and an Indian scout for Sam Houston. Records indicate that he was given four land grants for his services. (Kuhlman sources include “James Bowie Correspondence” and Writings of Sam Houston, 1813-1863, Volume II, July 16, 1814-March 31, 1842, edited by Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker)

At one time George was an Indian Scout for Sam Houston in the Republic of Texas Revolution. He was chosen for this job because of his wife Mary’s knowing and understanding of the Indians. It was important for Sam Houston to have the Indians on his side rather than the side of Mexico’s Santa Anna. (Kuhlman, 28)

It is likely the May family stayed in Marshall for about 10 years. On February 12, 1840, George was commissioned as the first sheriff of Harrison County and he served until February 1, 1841. The May family continued to grow. A daughter was born April 11, 1844 and was named Mary Jane after her mother. Twin daughters, Sarah Arkansas and Charity Melvina, were born October 28, 1846.

There is a record that indicates the May family was living in Victoria County in 1849. It was there that George May wrote and recorded his last will and testament. (Kuhlman, 30)

Know all Men, by there presents, that I, George May, of the State of Texas, and County of Victoria, being of a feeble state of health, but of sound mind, do, in the presence of the undersigned witnesses, make this, my last and only Will and Testament, in the following form and manner.

I give, will, and bequeath unto my lawful wife Mary May, during her natural life, for her use and benefit, all of my property, both real and personal, in the State of Texas, as well as money due me, from my share of my deceased Father’s Estate, in the state of Tennessee, and county of McMinn. And after the decease of my said wife, Mary May, to be equally divided among our children: James May, Malinda Josephine May, Samuel Houston May, Mary Jane May, John May, and the twins, Sarah Arkansas May and Charity Melvina May.

Witness my hand and Seal this 9th February, 1849.

George May

Witnessed by: P. Harper, E. Trevhlz and William Williamsen

By 1850 they had moved to Lavaca County and can be found on the U.S. Federal Census. The name is misspelled as “Mays.” George Mays (52) is listed along with Mary Mays (45), Josephine Mays (18), Samuel H. Mays (12), John Mays (10), Mary Jane Mays (8), Sarah Valani Mays (6) and Cherela V. Valani Mays (6). (Note the misspelled names of the twins.)

It was only one year later in 1851 that George May died in Lavaca County. He was buried in the old Hallettsville Graveyard. On June 9, 1973 the descendants of George and Mary Upton May dedicated a memorial marker which was placed at the gravesite. The inscription is as follows:

George, son of John and Charity Taylor May, married Mary Upton on February 18, 1825, daughter of Cherokee Maiden and English Army officer. Surveyor, sheriff and soldier of the Republic of Texas. Personal friend of Sam Houston, James Bowie and

Pres. Mirabou B. Lamar.


Sources 1850 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009.

The Handbook of Texas Online, “Nacogdoches County,”

Kuhlman, Jim W., The History of the Nance Hereford Ranch, 1996.

Tise, Sammy, Texas County Sheriffs, Oakwood Printing, Albuquerque, NM, 1989.

USGenWeb, Census Report of Williams Settlement,

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2011

George May Pedigree Chart (click link) George May Pedigree Chart

George May Family Group Sheet (click link) George May FGS – Document

Charity Melvina May Nance

Charity Nance with son, George Edward Nance
Charity Nance with son, George Edward Nance

This is a story about Charity Melvina May, a girl born of pioneer stock. Her father was an Indian scout and friend of Sam Houston as well as a citizen of the Republic of Texas. Family lore says her mother had Cherokee ancestry. Her family heritage was, indeed, fascinating, but her life was hard and filled with sadness.

Charity and her twin sister, Sarah Arkansas, were born October 28, 1846, in Marshall, Harrison County, Texas which, at this time, was a mere village. Caddo Indians lived in this part of East Texas for centuries before the Spanish explorers arrived as early as the sixteenth century. American pioneers did not begin to move into the area until the late 1830’s. When the Mayes lived in Harrison County in the 1840’s it was rugged country filled with forests of pine, cypress, and oak.

Charity and Sarah were the last two children of George and Mary Jane Upton May. Records indicate that Mary Jane May possibly gave birth to ten children but three died as infants. Nevertheless, this was a large pioneer family that moved from Tennessee to Texas under difficult circumstances.

By the time Charity was 3 years old, her family was living in Victoria County, Texas. We know in 1849 her father, George May, recorded his last will and testament in the Victoria County Courthouse. In 1850 the May family is listed on the 1850 United States Federal Census living in Hallettsville, Lavaca County, Texas. There were six children living in the household – Josephine (18), Samuel H. (12), John (10), Mary (8), Sarah (4) and Charity (4). By the way, Charity’s name is spelled incorrectly as “Cherela.” As we know, the census takers were sometimes way off on their spelling!

One year later, George May died leaving his wife and large family to make it on their own. It has been said that Mary had learned the ways of the Indian very early in life and knew how to live under the direst circumstances.

Though little is known how they managed, the years after Charity’s father died must have been very difficult. We have read stories or seen movies that romanticized life in early Texas, but we should take those “with a grain of salt.” It is hard to imagine being a single parent providing food and clothing for a family; taking care of the business of raising cattle and the produce of a farm; and fighting disease or nursing childhood illnesses. I wonder what it was like to kill rattlesnakes or other varmints or suffer the sweltering heat and humidity in their crude houses. It sounds rough and rugged to me.

Chances are the childhood of Charity and her siblings was cut short. Like so many children living in these early days of Texas, they had to do the work of adults. Since there were two older boys in the family, Mary Jane would have depended on them to do the farm work while the girls helped in the house. They learned very early how to survive.

Charity was in her early teens when she met Lewis Nance. His family lived nearby and it is likely they visited occasionally. Lewis and Charity developed a relationship and married April 30, 1862.

This should have been a happy time in this young couple’s life, but that was not meant to be. The United States was engaged in the Civil War, and not long after their wedding, Lewis enlisted in the Confederate States Army. Like her mother, Charity was left with the responsibilities of running a farm and home on her own.

About a year after they married, Lewis and Charity had their first child, Margaret “Maggie” Nance March 4,1863. The Civil War was still going on and Lewis was away most of the time. Since she was so young and a new mother, having her mother and other family near by must have been important to her.

By 1865 the Civil War had ended and Lewis returned home and began working to get his life back together. Farming and raising cattle was his means of doing it. Land records in Lavaca County tell us that he began to acquire land. In his book, The History of the Nance Hereford Ranch, Jim W. Kuhlman gives a detailed account of Lewis’ land transactions. (Kuhlman, 42-47)

Over the next years, Lewis and Charity’s family began to grow and on February 28, 1965, they had their first and only son, George Edward. Two years later, Katherine “Katie” May was born on September 24, 1867; and then Sarah “Sallie” Viola arrived November 18, 1869, and Louise or Louie “Lou” came along sometime in 1873.

Evidently, as a cattleman and farmer, Lewis provided fairly well for his family after his time served in the military. Sadly he lived only until 1874. His tombstone in the Hallettsville Cemetery (sometime called the Old Hallettsville Cemetery) does not give any birth or death dates. The inscription is: “Lewis C. Nance, Corporal Company D, 2nd Texas Cavalry, CSA” There is family lore that Lewis died of sunstroke while plowing his fields. His wife, Charity, was left a widow in her late twenties with five small children and pregnant with a sixth child. Their daughter, Adelia “Addie,” was born about 3 months after Lewis’ death. This information was given by a family member, Allen Belle Turrentine Johnson. (Kuhlman, 47)

Jim Kuhlman gives this additional information about Charity’s life after her husband’s death.

Marcus Reuben, a twenty-one year old white man helped with the farm work. Her mother, Mary Upton May, was good help raising the children. Her twin sister, Sarah, and her stock raising husband, Richard Jones Clark, lived close by. The only son, George Edward, was good help with the farm work. (Kuhlman, 47-48)

In a phone visit with Allen Belle (Charity’s granddaughter) on May 20, 1995, she recalled that her grandmother, Charity Nance, would not speak much about her family because she was ashamed that her grandmother had been an Indian, the Indian woman who married the army officer. Allen Belle noted that she personally was very proud to be 1/16 Indian. ‘I don’t think I resemble my Indian heritage and I was never wild, but I am proud of my Indian lineage,’ she said with a chuckle and a heart filled with sincerity. (Kuhlman, 48-49)

Around December 1894, Charity purchased some property from J.P Nelson in Yoakum, Texas, located in the southern part of Lavaca County. She then moved from the Nance farm near Hallettsville to Yoakum. While living in Yoakum, Charity and her daughters made a living boarding railroad men who worked out of Yoakum. Three of her daughters, Maggie, Katie, and Sallie, met their future railroad husbands waiting on tables at Charity’s boarding house. Later her daughter Sarah Viola “Sallie” Nance Pipkin boarded railroad men when she lived at Sweetwater, Texas, according to Dorothy L. Green in a telephone conversation on October 23, 1994. (Kuhlman, 50-51)

Spending her final years in Yoakum, Charity, the beautiful woman with such a rich family history, died on Wednesday morning, September 4, 1901. Her obituary was found in the Cameron Herald, September 12, 1901.

Mrs. C.V. Nance died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. J.A. Turrentine in Yoakum last Wednesday at 4:25 a.m. after a 10-week illness. She is survived by five daughters and a son, Mrs. J.A. Turrentine of Yoakum, Mrs. John Bush of Houston, Mrs. J. Varnell of Cameron, Mrs. W.S. Pipkin of Beaumont, Miss Lou Nance of Yoakum, and G.E. Nance of Goliad County.

Charity May Nance was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Yoakum. The tombstone inscription is: Charity V. Nance, October 28, 1846 – September 4, 1901, “Mother”


                                                 Sources 1850 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc. 2009. 1860 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. 1870 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2009. and The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints. 1880 United

States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. 1900 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2004.

Cameron Herald, Obituary for Charity May Nance, Volume XX, No. 11 (Whole No. 999), September 12, 1901.

The Handbook of Texas Online, “Harrison County”,;HH/hch8.html

Kuhlman, Jim W., The History of the Nance Hereford Ranch, 1996.

Lavaca County, marriage record, vol. B, p. 131, Hallettsville, Texas.

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft

Charity May Nance Pedigree Chart (click link) charity-may-nance-pedigree-charts-scan0001