History of May, Il.
From: Encyclopedia of Illinois
and the History of Lee County
Edited by: Mr. A. C. Bardwell.
Munsell Publishing Company
Chicago 1904.


At the meeting of the Board of Supervisors, September, 1854, the Town of May was set apart from the Town of Hamilton, to which it had theretofore belonged. By the resolution the chnnge was to take effect thc first Tuesday in April. 1855. The name is said to have been selected in honor of a military officer of the name who fell in the battle of Palo Alto. The first settler in the township was Joseph Bay, who located on Section 13, south of Palestine Grove. The next was Ira Axtle, who located the same year on Section 6. In 1840, William Dolan, who became prominent in the town, settled on Section 14. Martin McGowen, 3. Moran and John Darcy also came in 1840. In 1850 Andrew Kessler settled on Section 13. Joseph Hall came in 1857. In the latter year George Ash came and settled on Section 10. Also, in this year, Silas W. Avery arrived and settled on the northeast quarter of Section 7, while Hugh Fitzpatrick located on Section 19.

The township has always been strong in the number of its citizens belonging to the Catholic communion. In an early day the “Sandy Hill” church was built on the northeast corner of the southwest quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 14. A brick building was erected and a cemetery started adjacent thereto. On the southeast corner of the southwest quarter of Section 17, St. Patrick’s church was built at a later date. On the southwest corner of Section 25, St. Mary’s church was erected in more recent years. At a very early date an academy was erected on the northwest corner of the southwest quarter of Section 24, where a school was, for many years, successfully conducted. This institution was the result of a bequest of Patrick Riley, who settled on Section 23 in 1848 and died in 1868, leaving his property for the establishment of a school. Martin McCowen and Patrick McCann were the trustees. The building was dedicated early in September. 1880, and the school soon had six sisters of the order of Benedictine nuns for teachers. It was a boarding-school for young ladies, but boys were received as day pupils. The situation, however, proved unfavorable, and the school was finally discontinued.

Across the road from this academy building was also erected a parsonage. The “Sandy Hill” church has been abandoned, but the furniture has been moved to the academy where weekly services are held. Father Kilkiney has been priest in charge for a number of years. At St Mary’s church services are conducted in German on the fourth Sunday of every month, by some priest from a near by parish.

The township had a population, in 1890, according to the Government census, of 703 and in 1900 of 654.

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