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The May and Sevel Families of Mississippi

Updated June 4, 2007

About Our Family Research

Much research has been done on the antecedents of Harlan Ross May, son of Garlon Rufus May and Margaret Ernestine Sevel.
The May line of the family can be traced from Mississippi to Georgia, and from there to Carolina and Virginia. John May the Elder came from Ulster, Northern Ireland, his family having been what was then called "Scotch Irish". John's family came from Scotland, according to oral history. Joseph May was the first May to enter Mississippi Territory in the late 1700's bringing a grown family with him and a second wife,a widow McLain who was born in Scotland. Joseph's first wife had died.
Joseph served in the Revolution first with the Militia and Colonel Francis Marion, known to the British as "The Swamp Fox", and he served also with General Washington after he joined the Continental Army in his Brother James' place. Joseph being a widower, left his family with his brother.
With Washington at the Surrender of Burgoyne the British General, he finished his military tour. He became known later as an Indian fighter. There is much anecdotal information about Joseph passed down by his descendants. His son John and others traveled with him to Mississippi Territory going by way of the Tenn. River, and the Ohio, and Mississippi, landing in Natchez.
He traveled East from there to Amite County, then after a couple of years, moved Pike County, which is part of Walthal County today. He settled in Magee's Creek and is a founder of the Sartinville Methodist Church along with his Son, John, and John's son-in-law, Major Sartin, husband of John's daughter, Matilda. John and his brothers fought British General Packinham in the Battle of New Orleans with General Andrew Jackson, and John May is reputed to have been the American militiaman who unhorsed Gen. Packingham.
John's Son James Madison May, served in the 33rd Mississippi Infantry Regiment in the War for Southern Independence in 1863, also known as the Civil War, wherein he died. James' son Rufus Daniel May moved to the Mississippi Coast and founded the May family there. His son, Mansul Carl May is my grandfather, and his son Garlon Rufus May is my father. They are all buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Gulfport, Mississippi.
On the Sevel side (Sevelj), my mother's mother,Lavenia Melvin, married Mitchell Sevel (Sevelj) from Dalmatia (Yugoslavia). Her father was Geo. Washington Melvin and the Melvin line has been traced to the Isle of Skye, and the line through George's mother Mary Lavinghouse, goes back to England and her line can be traced through male and female lines through numerous titled families to Kings Edward I, II, III, and ultimately to King Ferdinand of Spain. This Lavinghouse (Laughinghouse) line was researched by a professional geneologist. My grandmother, Lavenia, had always said "there is royal blood in this family" and not much attention was paid to that oral history. But after Ernest Melvin, her brother hired a geneologist to research the family, this was found to be true, Ernest, at the time of the research had not been told about the royal line, and was astounded to find that there was also oral history, confirming the research. This family tree is included in the World Family Tree, which anyone is invited to research.

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