By Kaity Burke
Did you see the article about us in the Daily Post?
We had some very special guests in our archives on March 24th. Some of the remaining family of George T. May III (nicknamed Tertius) visited our archives with a donation. For decades, the family has kept Tertius’ items from his years at the Los Alamos Ranch School.
George Thomas May III was born in 1903. According to his niece, “Terk was a sickly child who suffered from severe asthma and spent much of his childhood in Illinois as an invalid”. Because there were not many effective treatments for those suffering with asthma, many were sent away from home to Western states that had cleaner air. Terk was sent to Los Alamos in 1919 at the age of 15. A letter from A. J. Connell, who was the director of the Los Alamos Ranch School, dated October 7th, 1919 states that “He has not had any asthma since the little attack I told you of when he first came here, His weight is now 85 pounds, a gain of 9 pounds since his arrival June 16th. He also shows 1.2 inch gain in height. He shows slight gains in practically all measurements and much in endurance.” Several accommodations were given to Terk during his time in Los Alamos, and there is only one known mention of Terk needing medical assistance from somewhere offsite of the Los Alamos Ranch.
Tertius was not withheld from participation in the daily activities that the other students would partake in. Within 2 months of his arrival to Los Alamos, he was rode on a pack trip.
His family is supportive of him, and had taken a few trips out to New Mexico to visit and spend time with Terk. The Santa Fe New Mexican mentioned that his parents and sister came out to visit him in May of 1921, to see the commencement ceremony in June, and stay a month. Tertius was awarded Second Prize. First Prize, or Director’s Prize, was awarded to William Rose for Best Average For Year, and Tertius was a fraction of a point behind William.
Other notable events during his time here included:
October 1922 - A. J. Connell announced in Santa Fe that Camp May had been completed and the major financial contributors were George T May Jr. and Edith May, the parents of George T May III.
November 1922 - Tertius was one of 2 students to have scored a buck during a hunting trip on the first day of Open Season.
January 1923 - Tertius was one of the few students who received permission to be a passenger on its first airplane, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican, with Captain Lowell Yerex as the pilot. Students had to get telegraphic consent from their parents before being allowed to be a passenger on the plane. Edward Fuller took photos of these flights.
June 1923 - Tertius graduated from Los Alamos Ranch School. There were only 4 in his graduating class. His father, George T. May Jr., gave a speech during the Commencement Ceremony. By the time of graduation, Tertius had grown a foot in height and had gained 100 pounds (according to his sister’s memories).
The May family had made several friends in the Santa Fe area, and would return to New Mexico several times over the next few years. Tertius also returned in 1924 for a driving job with the Bishop’s Lodge.
George May III passed away in his thirties, sometime in the 1930s, and his family’s donation has brought us more insight into his life and accomplishments, as well as the beginning years of the Ranch School. Thank you to the family members of Terk for making such a generous donation!
These articles are written by the Los Alamos Historical Society Staff. Many of these articles were originally published by the
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