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Jacob May
Sheriff of Washington County 1874 - 1878
portrait of Jacob May
Captain Jacob May
      Late Sheriff of Washington County, Illinois, was born June 5th, 1834, at Lettweiler, in Reinish, Bavaria, Germany. When quite young he had a desire to emigrate to America. After getting the consent of his parents he left home, on the 16th of February, 1849, and landed in New York city, April 29th of the same year. He wasa then but fourteen years of age. He engaged in farm-work, at which he continued for three years, after which he went to work on the Lackawanna and Bloomsburg Railroad in Pennsylvania, and rose to the position of foreman. On the 10th of October, 1855, he married Luise Ahrens. She was a resident of Luzerne county, Pennsylvania. She was born August 3d, 1836, at Rothenfel, near Minden, Prussia. After his marriage he went to farming, and in 1858 removed to Jackson county, West Virginia, where he still continued in the same occupation. At the breaking out of the war he put aside his occupation as a farmer, and responded to the call "to arms." He enlisted in the Union force as a private in the 9th regiment, West Virginia Volunteers. He served as private two months, corporal three months, 5th sergeant, two months, and orderly sergeant, twenty-three months. During the campaign of 1864 he was wounded three times -- once in the head and shoulder and through the thigh at the battle of Winchester. He was promoted to the captaincy of Co. F. 1st Vet. W. Va. Vo. Infantry, for gallant and heroic conduct on the field of battle at Winchester. He held the postion of captain until the close of the war, and was mustered out at Wheeling, W. Va., July 28th, 1865, after have been in service for nearly four years. In 1867 he was presented by the State of West Virginia with a medal of honor for gallant conduct during the war.
In 1865 he came west and on the 6th day of August settled on forty acres of prairie land in Washington county, Illinois. One year after he sold the land and purchased one hundred and seventeen acres near Pilot Knob. He remained there for seventeen years, when he sold out with the intention of removing further west, but he changed his mind and finally purchased one hundred and twenty acres four miles south-east of Nashville, where he engaged in raising wheat and cattle, at which he had been very successful. In 1874 at the solicitation of his many friends he ran as an independent candidate for the office o fsheriff, and at the ensuing election was declared sheriff by eight hundred and forty-three majority. In 1876 he was re-electred, and held the office until the fall of 1878. Since that time he has been busily engaged in culivating his land, of which he has over one thousand acres in Washington county, besides property in Nashville, the county-seat. He now is engaged extensively in stock raising and breeding fine cattle. He has a fine blooded lot of short-haired Durham, Devonshire and Ayers hire stock on his farm and is one of the most successful breeders in this part of the State. In politics he is Republican, and cast his first vote for John C. Fremont for President in 1856. He is the father of twelve children. Six of whom are living -- four biys and two girls. Both he and his estimable lady are members of the Evangelical Church. It is with pleasure that we append this sketch of Captain Jacob May, the brave soldier, the faithful officer and administrator of the public trusts, and one, of whom, all speak in words of praise as being a man in every way worthy of public confidence and private esteem.
Source :
1 1879 History of Washington County, Illinois
      Brink, McDonough & Co.; Philadelphia;   Corresponding Office, Edwardsville, ILL.; 1879

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