May, George E. Papers, c.1930s

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Summary Information

Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University
May, George Elliott, 1869-1960
George E. May Papers
Collection No.:
SC 0094
5 folders, .1 Cubic Feet
Language of the Material:
The George E. May Papers, 1930s, contain 44 chapters (some missing) of a carbon-copy typescript manuscript plus handwritten drafts and other notes on the history of Port Republic, Virginia. The manuscript is a draft of May's book Port Republic: The History of a Shenandoah Valley River Town that was published for the first time in 2002 - the 200th anniversary of the founding of Port Republic.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of Item], [folder #], May, George E. Papers, 1930s, SC 0094, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.

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Biographical/Historical Note

Born in 1869, George Elliott May was a lifelong resident of Port Republic, Virginia. His primary occupation was woodworker and mill builder, but May's passion was local history, particularly that of Port Republic. He spent much of his life researching and collection information about his hometown, and his manuscript, entitled "A History of Port Republic," was the culmination of that endeavor. May died February 6, 1960 and is buried at Port Republic Cemetery.

Port Republic, Virginia, founded in 1802, is one of the oldest towns in Rockingham County. It particularly flourished during the 1820s and 1830s after the South Shenandoah River was made navigable for flatboats. It is best known today as the site of the Civil War Battle of Port Republic in 1862.

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Scope and Content

The George E. May Papers, written in the 1930s, consist of approximately 44 numbered chapters of a typed manuscript, with some chapters missing, plus handwritten materials on the history of Port Republic, Virginia. The manuscript begins with a portrait of the land and the American Indians who inhabited it and goes on to detail the establishment of the town and its subsequent growth. Information concerning farming (references to the invention of the notched sickle used on the McCormick reaper), boating, industry, and schooling is included. Several chapters are devoted to the Civil War and Stonewall Jackson's victory at the Battle of Port Republic in 1862. Citizens of the town who were involved in wars through World War I are discussed, with additional genealogical chapters on the Carthrae, Burgess, Harper, Kemper, Harnsberger, Trout, Scott, Downs and Madden families. Other individuals mentioned include Zachariah Raines and local slave trader, George W. Eustler.

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The collection is arranged in five folders divided by manuscript chapters.

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Administrative Information

Revision Description

Converted to schema conforming EAD by dtd2schema.vh.xsl.Updated 2013-11-21February 2010

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collection Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

Acquisition Information

On deposit from the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society, May 27, 1987.

Processing Information

In order to streamline the process of applying collection numbers, Special Collections staff completed a large-scale renumbering campaign in the spring of 2017. This collection was previously cataloged as SC 2055.


Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

880 Madison DriveMSC 1704Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807library-special@jmu.eduURL:

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May, George E. Port Republic: The History of a Shenandoah Valley River Town. Staunton, Va.: Lot's Wife Publishing, 2002.

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Collection Inventory

Title/Description Instances
Chapters 1-7 box 1 folder 1
1. Locality
2. Early Settlers
3. Laying out the Town
4. Tragedy
5. Old Residenters
6. Farming
7. Boating
Chapters 8-12 box 1 folder 2
8. Industries
9. Lost Opportunities
10-12. Churches
Chapters 13-24 box 1 folder 3
13. Wars
14. Civil War: 1861-1865
15-17. Wars
18. Spanish American War: 1898-1899
19. Famous Fight
20. Post Office
21. Polls
22. Schools
23. Home Names
24. The Harper Family and Port Republic Bridges
Chapters 25-44 box 1 folder 4
25. Drownings at the Point: the Kemper family
26. The Harnsberger Family
27. John Dundore
28. [Missing]
29. Joseph Trout
30. Zacharia Rains (the "Commodore" of the Shenandoah)
31. Michael Amos Scott
32-34. [Missing]
35. George W. Eustler
37-39. [Missing]
40. Thomas Madden
41. Cemetery
42-43. [Missing]
44. Bibles
Miscellaneous Papers box 1 folder 5
Minutes of the Methodist Meeting House
East Rockingham Magistrates
Civil War Soldier's Letter