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Caleb May

Politician. Born: January 19, 1816, Madison County, Kentucky. Married: Margaret Parnell, January 4, 1838. Died: 27 August 1888, Eustis, Florida.

The man who would be a delegate to three Kansas constitutional conventions, Caleb May, was born in Madison County, Kentucky, on January 19, 1816, and married Margaret Parnell, an Indiana native, in Decatur County, Indiana, on January 4, 1838. He had assumed responsibility for the family farm when his father died in 1830 and removed with the family, mother and four younger siblings, to Indiana about two years later. In about 1842 the family moved to Arkansas for three years and then Buchanan County, Missouri; the Mays spent almost a decade in Missouri, where Caleb and Margaret started their large family, before moving to Kansas Territory in 1854. They opened a farm in Atchison County, and May quickly involved himself in free-state affairs and was active in the Topeka Movement, being elected as a delegate to the constitutional convention that convened at Topeka on October 23, 1855. (He was then said to be a Democrat, a farmer, and a resident of Osena.) In 1858 he was elected a delegate to the Leavenworth Constitutional Convention and was one of Atchison County's three delegates to the Wyandotte Convention in 1859. In subsequent years he continued farming, moving to Montgomery County in 1869, where he lived with his wife, one son (Thomas S., age 15) and a grandson (Samuel G., age 6) in 1880. May died at Eustis, Florida, on August 27, 1888.

Based on the Proceedings, May does not appear to have been a particularly active delegate, but he weighed in on the apportionment debate on July 7. He accused the Democrats, some of whom had served at Lecompton, of hypocrisy when they carelessly accused the Republicans of partisanship now. May believed "that Wyandotte ought to be represented, but, for my part, under the law I do not see how we can admit them." There was simply no precedent for following the course advocated by the Democratic delegates. Additionally, "by his efforts two degrees of longitude were added to the west end of Kansas, after the convention had determined to limit the western boundary to the twenty-third instead of the twenty-fifth meridian of west longitude."

Entry: May, Caleb

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2011

Date Modified: July 2012

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.