"Indian Bill" May


WILLIAM "INDIAN BILL" MAY was one of the more notorious characters in to live in East Camden during the first four decades of the 20th Century. 

Little is known of his early life. When he registered for the draft in June of 1917 he claimed to have been born in Deadwood, South Dakota on July 25, 1888. He also declared that he had served for four years in the United States Army, but he claimed no such service in the 1930 Census. Newspaper reports are contradictory regarding his heritage, stating that he was Sioux, but also saying that he was of mixed parentage. He gave his race as white on his draft card and in the 1920 and 1930 Censuses. 

William May was not counted in Camden when the Census was taken in 1910. He came to the attention of local authorities and the newspapers in December of 1910 after an unsuccessful suicide attempt, having been rejected in marriage by a very young Elsie Staley. The truth about much of that was reported about him personally is debatable. William May's obsession with Miss Staley continued into 1912 and resulted in a three-months jail sentence for threatening to kill her. He was questioned in October of 1912 in relation to the murder of Carl Kellman, but was quickly cleared of any involvement, as was Elsie Staley's brother, Linnaws W. Staley. 

In October of 1913. William May married Anna M. Dowell, the daughter Frank P. Dowell and his wife, the former Amelia Wright. The young couple lived with her parents and brothers Drank and George Dowell at 2105 Berwick Street. William May found regular work at the Keystone Leather Company plant in East Camden.  A son, Frank W. May, was born in February of 1914, sadly, he died in July of that year.  By 1915 the family had moved to 20 Morse Street, where they stayed into 1916. When William May registered for the draft in June of 1917 the family had moved to 2110 Berwick Street, where they remained into 1923.

William and Anna May were a productive couple when it came to having children, and by 1920 three daughters had arrived, Myrtle, Evelyn, and Naomi May. Four more children arrived over the next 10 years, William H. May, Anna May, Frank May, and Dolores May. In 1921 William May again came to the attention of the law, for threatening a neighbor with an axe. The family moved to 2168 Berwick Street in time for the compilation of the 1924 City Directory. The next directory was published in 1925, but William May does not appear in it. Over the next five years, the Mays had five addresses. The Directory from 1928 shows them at 1984 Federal Street, and the 1929 edition has them at 58 Marlton Avenue. When the census was taken in April of 1930, the family was once again at 20 Morse Street. The 1931 Directory has the May family at 2251 Mickle Street. By the end of that year, William May and family had moved to 2118 Berwick Street. Two more children were born after April of 1930, George May and Clair May.

William May again found himself in from of a judge, this time for beating his wife, in March of 1932. He and his family soon moved to 18 North 22nd Street. William May passed away on September 18, 1935 and was buried at New Camden Cemetery.

William May's grandson, Robert J. Mentz Jr., had a long and distinguished career with the Camden Police Department.

 

Camden Post-Telegram
December 27, 1910

William May
Elsie Staley
Federal Street

 


Camden Post-Telegram
December 30, 1910

William May
Elsie Staley
Federal Street

 

Camden Post-Telegram
July 3, 1911

William May
Elsie Staley
Federal Street
William Rose
D. Frank Garrison

 


Camden Daily Courier
July 19, 1911

William May
Federal Street
Rocco Nadomali
South 4th Street


Camden Post-Telegram
October 27, 1911

William May
Elsie Staley
Federal Street
Nicholas Small
Fiore Troncone

Camden Post-Telegram * February 6, 1912
William May - Irvan Warren - Michael Mestovich

Camden Post-Telegram
February 9, 1912

William May
Elsie Staley
Charles A, Wolverton
Charles V.D. Joline


Camden Post-Telegram * October 14, 1912
BOY'S BRUTAL MURDERER COLLAPSES AT HEARING


...continued...
Elbridge B. McClong - O. Glen Stackhouse - John Painter - Frank B. Frost
Elisha B. Gravenor - Jeff Kay - William T. Boyle
...continued...
Elisha Gravenor
- Grace Presbyterian Church - Bertha Skillen
Bessie Skillen - Albert Ludlow - Joseph Wittick

North 21st Street - North 27th Street - North 30th Street - North 34th Street 
Sherman Avenue - High Street - Federal Street 
...continued...
Thomas Sink -
A. Lincoln L. James - William Schregler - Henry C. Moffett
John Brothers - William C. Horner - Arthur Colsey - Anson Kelly
Robert T. Abbott -  
John H. Vickers - Frederick A. Finkeldey 
"Indian Bill" May - Eugene McCafferty - William Hurlock - Arthur Colsey
...continued...
...continued...
Dr. E.A.Y. Schellenger Sr. - John T. Potter -
Elbridge B. McClong
Dr. William S. Jones - John T. Cleary - Charles A. Wolverton
Thomas Gallagher's Saloon

Camden Post-Telegram
October 6, 1913

William May
Anna Dowell
Berwick Street

Grant Street
Line Street
North 19th Street
Everett Street
George J. Leivy

 

Camden Post-Telegram
July 15, 1914

William May
Anna Dowell
Frank W. May
Berwick Street

World War I Draft Card
 

Camden Daily Courier
May 13, 1921

William May
Edward Guinness
O. Glen Stackhouse
Lewis Liberman
Berwick Street

Camden Daily Courier
October 28, 1922

William May
Berwick Street

 

Camden Courier-Post
December 28, 1931

William May
Berwick Street

 

Camden Courier-Post
March 14, 1932

William May
Berwick Street
Anna May
Myrtle May
William Turner

correct address was 21 18 Berwick Street

 


Camden Courier-Post
March 15, 1932

William May
Berwick Street
Anna May
Garfield S. Pancoast

correct address was 2118 Berwick Street

 

Camden Courier-Post * September 20, 1935
William May - North 22nd Street - Anna May
correct address was 18 North 22nd Street

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