May Cornwell

April 29, 1871, Chester County, South Carolina.

February 2, 1951, South Carolina.

Laurelwood Cemetery, Rock Hill, South Carolina.

May was the daughter of William Jesse Williams Cornwell (ruling elder at Pleasant Grove Presbyterian Church, and the community physician) and Margaret Levica Walker, and wife of Adlai Ellwood Holler.

May attended the Chester Female Institute in Virginia, where she wrote under the pen name Lynwood. She graduated with honors and was the commencement speaker. After graduation, she became a teacher, first for a local school, then for an orphanage (she also taught Sunday school for 63 years). In December 1896, she married Adlai Holler, a Methodist minister; they had eight children.

In 1945, the state of South Carolina named May Cornwell Holler as the state’s Mother of the Year, stating, Through sacrifice, prayer, and determination, she and her husband managed to send all eight children to college and enjoyed the privilege of seeing all graduate. The governor of South Carolina said:

Yours is a life of service—service to your God, to your country, to your state, and to your community; service to your church, and to your home; service to friend and to stranger; service for the sheer joy of serving. Yours is a life of sweetness and graciousness, of strength and kindness, of devotion to duty. Yours is a life symbolic of the finest South Carolina womanhood.

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