The May Brothers and Sisters
After studying records of the three May brothers during the
twenty years they lived in Lancaster, I have arrived at opinions
of their individual personalities.
The May brothers in Lancaster
Leonard May appears to have effectively assumed his role
as the oldest son living in America. He probably managed the
funds the family had accumulated and brought from Germany, wisely
investing early in Donegal and Conestoga farmland and then selling
the property for substantial profits. He continued this pattern
of land transactions throughout his years in Lancaster County.
As a waggoner, Leonard became the most familiar of the brothers
with the outlying townships and counties, and certainly must
have often visited the dynamic city of Philadelphia. The father
of a large family, he probably has the largest number of descendants
still living in America. I have made contact with some of Leonard's
descendants who are working on the genealogy of his line.
As early as 1751, Daniel May owned property on East King
Street where he ran his tavern and inn. There are no records
indicating that he ever owned any other lots in town. Daniel
seems to have become more venturesome by the mid-1760s, when
he bought two lots in the Borough of Manheim. His participation
in various church and civic organizations and on special committees
shows Daniel to have been a very capable, gregarious man who
was well known and liked in the borough. The large number of
baptisms in which Daniel and his wife, Anna Maria, stood up as
sponsors and godparents - in both the Lutheran and the Reformed
churches - speaks highly of the esteem they garnered among their
friends and neighbors.
Francis May, the youngest brother, appears to have stuck
to his trade of shoemaking, while maintaining a low profile in
the community. It is interesting that he was called a "cordwainer"
in an indenture written by Edward Shippen. This tells us that
Francis catered to the manufacture of shoes, boots and other
fine leather products which appealed to the local gentry, including
lawyers, public officials and prosperous businessmen of the county.
However, his only known venture in speculation on town lots,
the purchase and sale of an Orange Street property, yielded him
a tidy profit. Throughout his years in Lancaster, Francis appears
to have lived in his home and worked in his shop on King Street.
The May sisters in Lancaster
Unfortunately, we have scant information of what happened to
the May sisters, Maria Elisabetha and Anna Margaretha,
after they left Niederhausen. There is no known record of Maria
Elisabetha after she traveled to Meisenheim with Daniel, Frantz
Peter, and Anna Margaretha to obtain their manumissions to "leave
The marriage records of the Rev. Philip W. Otterbein in the
First Reformed Church in Lancaster show that he performed a marriage
ceremony on November 12, 1752 for Anna Margaret May - probably
the twenty-six year-old Anna Margaretha - and Michael Stern,
a widower. We know of Stern's previous wife from a 1750 birth
and baptism record. Another record from the church refers to
Stern as "deceased," and gives his wife's name as Catherine.
This record shows that she was the mother of a daughter who was
born on September 2, 1753. This leads us to speculate that Anna
Margaretha may have died very soon after she married Stern.
There is now doubt if Anna Maria immigrated with the
family to America. In The Shoemaker's Children I assumed
she may have been the Anna Maria Lorentz who received her manumission
in Meisenheim with her mother and two Lorentz men from Niederhausen.
I have found records showing she had married and had been living
in Alsenz as late as 1747, when her husband died. Additional
research will be necessary to determine if she remained in the
Nahe Valley in the Rheinland Palatinate.