Katherine H. May

This collection began with the Kentucky Oral History Commission’s effort to establish oral history programs in each of the state’s 120 counties. County libraries worked with local volunteers to collect interviews. Since 1987, county oral histories have been generated primarily by recipients of technical assistance grants from the commission that provide training and equipment to volunteer interviewers. Interviews donated by independent researchers are also included. Original collection held at Kentucky Oral History Commission/Kentucky Historical Society.  Access copies available at Lincoln County Public Library. Authorization must by granted by KHS to use or publish by any means the archival material to which the Society holds copyright.



April 27, 1981

Ms. Campbell: This is an interview with Katherine May in Pulaski County, by Pamela Campbell, also of Pulaski County, by the Kentucky Bicentennial Oral History project.  The interview was conducted is Mrs. May’s home on April 27th at 9:00 p.m.  At first, I’d like to ask you your name. 

Ms. May: Katherine May. 

Ms. Campbell: When and where were you born? 

Ms. May: I was born in Lincoln County at the address of Eubank, Kentucky, Route 2; March the 16th, 1918. 

Ms. Campbell: What was your father’s name? 

Ms. May: My father’s name was Caleb Hubble.  And, he was born December 17, 1878.  He was also born in Lincoln County. 

Ms. Campbell: What was your mother’s name? 

Ms. May: My mother’s name was Isabelle Falconberry.  Her maiden name was Isabelle Falconberry, and she was born in Casey County in 1880. 

Ms. Campbell: And, what was her cause of death? 

Ms. May: She died in 1947 and it was complication of…she had a heart condition and it was complications from it. 

Ms. Campbell: When were they married? 

Ms. May: They were married in 1899; 1899. 

Ms. Campbell: What were their occupations? 

Ms. May: He was a farmer and she was just a housewife.  He also did some carpentry work. 

Ms. Campbell: Did he ever build houses or help build houses or barns? 

Ms. May: He built the home that we lived in and, when they built the Pilot Church, this was built in 1915 or 16, I believe, he did a lot of work on it. 

Ms. Campbell: On the Pilot…. 

Ms. May: On the Pilot Baptist Church, on Eubank, Route 2… the Pilot Baptist Church. 

Ms. Campbell: Now, this is in Lincoln County? 

Ms. May: Yes, this is in Lincoln County.  He did a lot of work on that church. 

Ms. Campbell: Where were they originally from? 

Ms. May: The Hubbles, I have been told…it’s just handed down, that the Hubbles originally came from New York, and settled…that there was three brothers started west, and one brother settled in Kentucky, and the other two brothers went on west.  That is just handed down by…I don’t have anything to back it up. 

Ms. Campbell: Do you have any brothers and sisters? 

Ms. May: Yes, I had two brothers.  Both of my brothers have passed away.  My older brother, Fred Hubble, has been dead some few years, and my other brother was killed in an automobile accident on his birthday in 1969…August 12, 1969.  And, I have three sisters that are still living.  Blanche White; she is a teacher, and she teaches in Louisville, Kentucky.  She teaches the 4th grade in Louisville.  I have another sister, Nettie Stonecipher, she is a housewife, and she lives in Eubank.  And, then, my older sister, Constable (sic), she was also a teacher, and she started teaching at a very young age.  She started teaching in the Lincoln County Schools…rural schools when she was 18.  She would teach a school year and then she would go to school the following time she was off, and that’s the way she got her high school.  The school was called Teacher’s Normal School, I believe, at that time, but it was the equivalent of a high school.  That was the way she got her high school and her college, and also her master’s degree.  She would teach a year and then she would go what time she was off, she would go…sometimes she would go in the spring, and then she would take summer courses.  She spent some 46 or 47 years in the education…in 1948 she’d…well, as I said, she had taught in rural schools.  She taught in the rural schools, she also taught first grade, and I believe she taught in high school in Lincoln County.  And, then, in 1948, she went to Berea College, where she was a librarian and also a teacher.  And, she taught library science and she also worked full time as a librarian.  And, she retired from Berea in 1967, I believe it was.  But, while she was at Berea, she was nominated for Who’s Who in Education.  although she wasn’t chosen at last, she was nominated for Who’s Who, because of what she had done in education. 

Ms. Campbell: And, you said she got her master’s through teaching, and then going to school.  Where did she go to school at? 

Ms. May: At Eastern…the most of it, she went to Eastern, and she also went to the University of Kentucky, I believe some.  And, she’s also gone to the University of North Carolina and taken some courses there.   

Ms. Campbell: You mentioned that your other sister, Blanche White, the one that is a teacher in Louisville, do you know of any of the schools that she taught? 

Ms. May: Frazier Elementary. 

Ms. Campbell: Where did she attend college? 

Ms. May: She attended college at Eastern and University of Louisville.  She has a master’s from the University of Louisville.   

Ms. Campbell: Do you know how many years she’s been teaching? 

Ms. May: No, not exactly.  But, I think she…she could retire.  She has enough years that she could retire, but she loves to teach, so she says as long as she feels good, she plans to keep on teaching.  But, she has taught several years. 

Ms. Campbell: Do you have any more teachers in your family, or…. 

Ms. May: Well, I have a daughter that is a teacher.  Our oldest daughter is a teacher in Falls Church, Virginia.  She teaches first grade.  And, in our family, there has been a number of teachers, from my grandfather, who was John Marion Hubble…there was 23 grandchildren that lived to adulthood, and of those 23, seven were teachers.  And, one was…one of them was the head of the mathematics department in Madison County…the new high school, I believe, they built, she was head of the…what did I say, the…. 

Ms. Campbell: Mathematics…. 

Ms. May: Yeah, the math, she was the head of the math department. 

Ms. Campbell: How long has this been? 

Ms. May: Oh, about…she passed away about six…five years ago.  She was…. 

Ms. Campbell: Was this your cousin? 

Ms. May: She was a cousin.  She was a cousin, and then my…I also had another cousin, that probably was a first…she taught school for many, many years, and she was also the superintendent of Lincoln County Schools for one term, and that was in the nineteen thirties.  Which, someone had said…I cannot verify it, that she was the first woman school superintendent.  I know she was in Lincoln County, but they said possibly was in the state. 

Ms. Campbell: Do you know what year this was? 

Ms. May: It was in the nineteen thirties, but just the years, I don’t know.  And, her father, Garland Singleton (sic), had also…he was an uncle by marriage…he had been superintendent for 28 years in Lincoln County. 

Ms. Campbell: Where do your brothers and sisters live now? 

Ms. May: I have one sister that lives in Louisville.  My brothers have all…I don’t have any brothers living.   There’s only four of us left, and it’s four sisters.  One sister lives at Berea.  One sister lives at Eubank and I live at Eubank, Route 2.  

Ms. Campbell: What were the occupations of your brothers, when they were living? 

Ms. May: My older brother was a farmer.  My younger brother worked for the Southern Railway, Southern Railroad. 

Ms. Campbell: What were your grandparents’ names? 

Ms. May: Well, now, my great grandfather’s name was Joel Hubble.  He was born in 1822.  And, he died in 1908.  So, he lived to be an elderly man.  And, my grandfather’s name was J.M. or John Marion Hubble, and he was born in 1844.  And, his wife was a Mary Bastin, and she was born in 1845.  But, when Joel Hubble, my great grandfather was a young man, and he married.  I guess he married when he was a young man, but he married in Somerset, Kentucky, and he married a woman by the name of Julia Lulan (sic).  But, when they had two small children, he decided he was going to go west, I suppose, to seek his fortune, but when he got to…he got as far as Missouri, and he lost his wife.  She died in…possibly in childbirth, because they had the first child there and she also died.  Then he came back to Kentucky to live, and that’s where my grandfather and the other daughter grew up, his sister…her name was Elizabeth.  And, the story has it that she was maybe a little bit unusual.  She didn’t get along too well with the family, so she left home; married or had a son and was deserted, and she was taken in by the Quakers (Shakers) over at Shakertown, and was befriended by them, and they helped her raise her son.  I don’t think that she was ever really reunited with the family to a great extent, because they didn’t speak too much of her.  But, then, my grandfather, John Marion Hubble, when he was a young man, he joined the…he was in the war.  He joined the civil war and he served in the civil war from 1963 to…or 1863 to 1865.  And, while he was in the war, we know that we heard him say that he was in at least one battle, and that was Chickamauga; the Battle of Chickamauga.  And, when he went to war, he was in the 13th Calvary.  Well, he furnished his own horse.  They didn’t issue him his horse, he took his own horse with him.  And, while he was in the army, he was quite sick.  He had the measles and all sorts…pneumonia.  So, he only served the time that he was supposed to serve.  They gave him an honorable discharge.  And, after he was discharged, he came back to his place, to Eubank, Route 2 in Lincoln County, and that’s where he married.  He married Mary Bastin.  And, they moved into a log house…the log part, which is still standing.  And, to them, there was born ten children, I…ten children and two died in infancy.  One of these, of course, was my father, Caleb.  But, he was a real farmer, I suppose.  And, he really kept records of what he was doing.   He… apparently he regularly practiced crop rotation way before lots of people did, because it said he really had a very good farm, although he didn’t live…I don’t remember him, but I do remember much talk about him.  He died in 1909, I believe…when my grandfather died.  And, my grandmother, I remember her.  She was a tiny, tiny little lady.  And, she died in 1926.  Now, my grandfather’s death was rather unusual, or was something that we were always cautioned very much about.  He died of blood poisoning.  And, he had picked a splinter from his finger with a pin, so all my life, they said, don’t pick a splinter with a pin, because he died with blood poisoning.  And, they raised wheat, corn, oats.  They kept horses, sheep at some times, hogs, ducks and geese and the chickens and all of that.  And, he was quite the person for keeping records.  And, they had lots of things that they sold from this farm.  And, most…lots of times they would take things from the farm and they would just trade.  Sometimes they would take two dozen eggs and trade it for five yards of calico.  And, I have a list of one of his…I have a copy of one of his grocery lists, in 1893, in April, it was when he went to the store, and he purchased these…this list of articles.  He bought 12 plates, one dish, one set of glassware, one butter dish, coffee pot, water bucket, a milk bucket, a set of teaspoons, one half gallon oil can, ten pounds of sugar, six pounds of coffee, and six pounds…six cans of peaches, for the total sum of seven dollars and a half. 

Ms. Campbell: That’s unbelievable, I mean, the way prices are now. 

Ms. May: They often sold potatoes and sweet potatoes, butter, eggs, dried beans, dried apples, bacon and ham, hog jowl, and the girls’ knee socks, and these they sold for ten cents a pair.  There was also this heavy material that they sold that was called binsey (sic).  And, on one occasion in 1892, they sold 69 pounds of bacon for $6.80.  And, another one of his grocery…we might say a grocery list or it was things where he went to the store and bought…this includes some clothing.  He bought a pair of shoes for himself that was $1.45.  A pair of shoes for my Aunt Minnie was $1.60; a pair of shoes for Aunt Julie that was $1.60; a corset; don’t know who it was for, but it was ninety cents.  Sugar, twenty five cents; coffee, a dollar; a garden hoe, forty cents; and some cotton hose for ten cents; cabbage seed, ten cents and soda, five cents.  And, the total of this order was $7.45. 

Ms. Campbell: Do you remember him telling anything unusual or finding that…happened to your grandparents or parents; any unusual situations that you can recall? 

Ms. May: Well, I can remember one thing that they used to tell about my Uncle Josh when he was a little boy.  Apparently they weren’t quite as particular about their hygiene as they are now, because this teacher…the first chewing gum that the children had ever seen…he brought this chewing gum to school and he let…he was going to let every child in the school chew it.  Well, he gave it to the first one and they chewed it, and he passed it on back and they chewed it, but lo and behold, when he got to Uncle Josh, he swallowed it. (laughing). 

Ms. Campbell: (laughing). 

Ms. May: They always told about him and his chewing gum. 

Ms. Campbell: When were you married? 

Ms. May: November 23rd, 1935. 

Ms. Campbell: How many children do you have? 

Ms. May: We had nine.  We have seven girls and two boys. 

Ms. Campbell: What are their names? 

Ms. May: Well, Bonnie (sic) Louise May Wells, she is a school teacher in Falls Church, Virginia.  Marie Jean Webb; she works for Proctor and Gamble in Cincinnati.  Peggy Ann May Ruckle, she is a farmer’s wife…she farms, her husband works and she farms.  Donna Dean May Ruckle, they own a business, a grocery and feed store…feed store.  Emma Belle Ruckle, she works in the Waynesburg Elementary lunch room.  Patsy May Walker, she works at GE in Somerset.  And Johnny May…John Marvin May, he isn’t married, he lives at home and he helps farm.  Thomas May lives in Batesville, North Carolina and he drives a truck.  And, Alice May Mullins works at Oakwood in Somerset. 

Ms. Campbell: Can you remember anything your kids done, any meanness, or foolishness that they got into when they were younger, and if they got punished a lot or…I know parents…some are a bit more lenient now. 

Ms. May: Well, they always thought I punished them quite a bit.  They used to tell me I had the cleanest beet ridges in the country, because that was one way I punished them.  Sometimes when they’d did something, I would go have them to pull weeds out of my garden.  That was their punishment.  So, that would help me keep my garden clean.  Oh, I guess they had just the usual things with the family, had their ups and downs and little spats.  Just right off and I can’t think of anything too outstanding.  Of course, most of my girls were cheerleaders, and I really don’t see how our house stood the punishment.  They had to take all those drills and cheering that they had to do in it.  Well, one time, one of my daughter’s…really, to her, it was almost a devastating…she had an almost devastating mishap.  Somebody, somehow let the cat stay in the house.  It got in, and they fastened it up.  Well, she had washed her cheerleading skirt, which there was lots more to them then than there are now…it was a huge circle.  She had cleaned it and had it all spread out so nicely for that ballgame that night; well, what do you suppose the cat did?   

Ms. Campbell: (laughing). 

Ms. May: (laughing) oh, I thought it…it was a major disaster to her, it was. 

Ms. Campbell: Did you have a pleasant childhood? 

Ms. May: Yes, I suppose I had a reasonably pleasant childhood.  Of course, I lost my father at quite a young age, and that hurt me, because I felt like I had really lost – really had lost my best friend.  I really missed him.  But, my mother and my sisters were very good to me, and an older brother, so I had a reasonably happy childhood. 

Ms. May: I think we are about through with this one, so we’ll continue on with the next. 


                                                                                      END OF INTERVIEW


Scroll to Top