Mays, William Harrison

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Mays, William Harrison

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William Harrison Mays was born a slave on March 22, 1845. His mother, Susan May, was owned by Josiah S. Doakes of Nueces County, TX, and died when W. H. Mays was fourteen years old. After the Civil War, Mays moved to Corpus Christi, TX and on August 4, 1869, married Alice Sinclair (1854-1934), who belonged to a prominent family in the local African American community (her mother, Clara Sinclair, was one of only two black women in Corpus Christi listed as property owners in the 1870 census; her brother, Moses Sinclair, was the second pastor of St. Matthew Baptist Church, the first black Baptist church in Corpus Christi).

Though a brick mason by trade, Mays was a cowboy for much of his life. In 1870 he worked on the King Ranch and later was in charge of cattle shipments for Mifflin Kenedy (for whom he would later name his youngest son, James Mifflin Mays). When Mays died in 1909, his obituary stated that he was "one of the oldest Negroes living in Corpus Christi…[he] was well-liked by both white and black and had many friends who regret to learn of his death. He was an upright, honest, and hard-working citizen."

Mays' granddaughter, Alclair Mays Pleasant, was born on May 6, 1906. The daughter of James Mifflin Mays (1880-1925) and his first wife, Annie Garcia Bohman (1887-1982), Mrs. Pleasant spent much of her life as an active member of the African American community in Corpus Christi. A teacher, historian, and community advocate, Mrs. Pleasant served her community and family until she passed away in 2011 at the age of 105.


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