The story handed down about a black woman named May Cooper who lived with Frank and Delia McAllister on Van Kirk Road in Newfield, New York, was that someone found this little girl as an orphan during the Civil War and brought her to the north. The McAllisters, who had no children, took her in, and treated her almost like a daughter.
However, through genealogy research, we found the story about May’s arrival in Newfield wasn’t quite true.
May Cooper was born in 1874, first appearing on the 1880 census as a niece living with Charles and Sarah Smith of Elmira, NY. Charles was a minister. That census indicated that May’s mother was born in New York, but her father was unknown.
May lived with the McAllisters from at least 1892 until her death in 1929. She is buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Newfield, New York.
The mystery yet to be solved is the circumstances in which she came to the Smiths in Elmira, and who her parents were?