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Henry May

(1829-1919)

Henry May came to Ames in the spring of 1866 when the population
here was reported to have been 100. He bought the 11.5 acres of bare prairie
that lay between what is today 9th and 13th Streets, and between Douglas
and Duff Avenues.  He paid $346.20 to Alexander and Cynthia Duff for
that land and built one of the first houses in the area on it. The property
later became the building site in 1915 for the Mary Greeley Hospital. 
Henry May took over Hoggatt School in 1867, to become the first Ames teacher. 
He taught for three terms and served the children of the Adams, Fitchpatrick,
Hoggatt, Hiestand, and McCarthy families, among others.  May eventually
served as the secretary for the School Committee.  He left Ames to
operate a drug store, but came back and became the first rural delivery
mail carrier out of Ames.

May was a highly educated man who came from Connecticut.  During
the Civil War he served in the diplomatic service, assigned by the State
Department to Africa.  The last year there he had been seriously ill
with the black plague, and had been given heavy doses of brandy and quinine. 
For health reasons he resigned from the diplomatic service and came to
teach school in a rural setting.  Although well regarded by the community,
the addiction to the drugs he had been given, continued to bother him. 
When he was in his 90s, he fell from a delivery wagon and died in 1919. 
His wife, Ellen, preceded him in death in 1909.

Adapted from: Faces of our Founders: the early Leaders
of Ames, Iowa, compiled by the Ames Heritage Association.  Ames, Iowa
: The Association, 1991.  pp. 14-15, and Farwell T. Brown’s narrative
on “Captain Greeley builds a Hospital” in his Ames, the early years in
word and picture.  Ames, Iowa : Heuss Printing, c1993.  pp. 46-47.

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