Home |  PublicationsEncyclopedia |  May, Kate Vernon

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

MAY, KATE VERNON (ca. 1856–?).

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.

Linda D. Wilson


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).

Browse By Topic





The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Linda D. Wilson, “May, Kate Vernon,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=MA043.

Copyright and Terms of Use

No part of this site may be construed as in the public domain.

Copyright to all articles and other content in the online and print versions of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History is held by the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS). This includes individual articles (copyright to OHS by author assignment) and corporately (as a complete body of work), including web design, graphics, searching functions, and listing/browsing methods. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law.

Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and part or in whole.