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.