Kate May, a widow with nine children, participated in the 1893 Cherokee Outlet opening in Oklahoma Territory. Born in antebellum Mississippi, she was the daughter of Dr. S. M. Vernon. In 1875 at the age of nineteen she quit teaching school and married Samuel D. May, a storekeeper in Charleston, Mississippi. Due to financial setbacks, May first moved his family to Texas, and later he staked a claim in Oklahoma City during the Land Run of 1889. On April 23, 1889, one day after the run, May died, and Kate decided to make Oklahoma City their home. There she operated a restaurant until the 1893 financial panic caused the foreclosure of her loan.
As head of the household, Kate May knew that she would have to find opportunity elsewhere. Fortunately, another area known as the Cherokee Outlet was opened to homesteaders. She made the land run on horseback on September 16, 1893, and staked a claim for a quarter section, three miles south of Perry. Like many frontier women, she endured the adversities of everyday life. Within eighteen months she again moved her family, due to crop failures during the summer drought, lack of profit from a restaurant she had established in Perry, and the health of a daughter who had tuberculosis. At the recommendation of doctors, May moved her family two more times in search of a drier climate. They lived in Old Greer County in southwest Oklahoma for about ten years before settling in New Mexico Territory in 1906. Kate May faded into obscurity, and the date of her death is not recorded.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 16 April 1989. Henry Kilian Goetz, "Goin' West: Kate May's Trip to Old Greer County," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 72 (Fall 1994). Henry Kilian Goetz, "Kate's Quarter Section: A Woman in the Cherokee Strip," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 61 (Spring 1989).
Linda D. Wilson
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