When brothers Mike and Bill May played cowboys and Indians with friends back in their youth, on the May Farm at Langley, they usually played around an old grave. They assumed it was the grave of an Indian. As time passed, they learned the grave was that of a Confederate soldier, who is buried on the site with his wife, Artie.
As years passed, Bill May began to learn information about this Confederate soldier. Joel Allen was born in Floyd County in 1843. His parents were Felix and Rhoda (Martin) Allen. As of 1860, he had three brothers, George, James and Reuben, and two sisters, Maranda and Rebecca. He was apparently born on Beaver Creek, near the Alpharetta community, where he lived most of his life.
His nearest neighbor was also named Joel Allen, and was probably an uncle. It is believed that both Joel Allens enlisted into Ben Caudill’s Company A, 13th Kentucky Cavalry simultaneously, making it nearly impossible to keep their records separate. They payroll muster cards list their names as Sr. and Jr., which though not strictly correct, is probably how the company clerk kept them separate. Community records refer to him as “Little Joel Allen,” suggesting that is how his contemporaries distinguished the two.
He enlisted in the Confederate 13th Cavalry on Oct. 14, 1862, at the mouth of Salt Lick Branch of Beaver, a route into Pound Gap, Va., via Whitesburg, known as the Rebel Trace, which explains how he ended up in a unit commanded by a Letcher Countynative. His term of enlistment (three years) would have run through the duration of the war.
Federal records indicate that the 13th Kentucky Cavalry was merged into several different units during the course of the war, including Company F, 13th Kentucky Regiment, Caudill’s Infantry, Kentucky Infantry and the 10th Regiment of Mounted Rifles. As a member of these units, Allen served in many engagements and may have ridden with Gen. John M. Hunt Morgan’s men on their final raid into Kentucky, culminating in the Second Battle of Cynthiana, in 1864.
Little Joel Allen returned to Alpharetta after the war, and, with the exception of a short stay in Greenup County, lived there his entire life. He was married to Artie (Armintha) Patton on eityher Nov. 30 or Dec. 5, 1869. He fathered six children by this union, Jerry, Samuel, Martin, John, Jack and Arminta, before Artie’s death in 1874. His second marriage was to Cynthia Patton in 1893. Eight children were born to this union, Travis, Joe, Charles, Buck, Eliza, Virgie, Madge and Grace.
He died in 1922 — the same year Mike and Bill May’s dad, Thomas C. May, was born. He is buried on a mountaintop, above the Thomas C. May Cemetery, at Langley, his old homeplace.
With this information, Mike and Bill May, with help from the Friends of Middle Creek and others, had a flag raising last weekend to recognize this soldier. Linda Elliott sang “Go Rest High on that Mountain” and Bill May sang “I Believe.” The Friends of Middle Creek gave a 26-gun salute and played “Taps” as part of the ceremony.
Members of the Friends of Middle Creek who attended were Capt. Patrick Davis, Sgt. Michael Warrix, Pvt. Bruce Ison (who played “Taps”) and his wife Navajo, Pvt. John C. Ison (who shot the last shot of the salute) and his wife Regina, Pvt. Jacob Ison (the drummer), Pvt. Nicholas Sparks, Pvt. Dustin Burchett and Pvt. Samuel Hatcher.
Bill May said he felt it was important to honor the soldier for his service, particularly during the week of Veterans Day. He also thanked John C. Ison for his contributions.