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 Jefferson County Illinois
Biographies of the Maxey Family


James C. Maxey
James C. Maxey was born in Shiloh township, Jefferson county, June 14, 1827, and he enjoys the distinction of being the oldest living native born citizen of this county, the son of Burchett Maxey and the grandson of William Maxey. Jesse Maxey was the subject's great-grandfather. He was one of the earliest settlers of Tennessee, and in a fight with the Indians near Gallatin he was shot and scalped by an Indian and left on the field for dead, but revived and lived for twenty years. He was the son of Edward Maxey, whose father was Walter Maxey, the first of this distinguished family to emigrate from Wales, where it originated. This was about the year 1725 when Walter Maxey crossed the Atlantic ocean in an old time sailing vessel that required weeks to make the passage to America. He settled in Maryland and ever since the name has been prominent in various states, his descendants having settled in Virginia, then removed to Sumner county, Tennessee, later came to Jefferson county, Illinois, one of these being Burchett Maxey, father of the subject of this review, who was one of the earliest of the pioneers in this county, having set about the establishment of a new home in the wilderness for his wife and two children, having for neighbors red men and wild beasts, but he was of heroic mould and nothing daunted him, consequently he laid a sure foundation for succeeding generations in this locality. It was in the year 1818 that Burchett Maxey brought his good wife and two children, Eliza and Perigan, overland from Sumner county, Tennessee. The youngest child, Perigan, being about one year old, died soon after they reached Moore's Prairie, where it was buried, having been the first white person buried in Jefferson county. It was in the springtime that this long and arduous trip was made through an unfrequented country, over almost impassable roads and across dangerous streams, consequently the hardships of the undertaking is apparent. The family soon afterward settled near the present city of Mount Vernon and in 1823 Mr. Maxey built a log house on the site now occupied by the Third National Bank. Additions were later added and the house stood where it was originally built until about 1902, when the old buildings were wrecked to make way for the new building of the Third National Bank. This was the first building erected on what is now the public square of Mount Vernon. Burchett Maxey also built the first jail in Jefferson county, having been the lowest bidder when the county authorities asked for bids on the first bastille. It was built of logs and cost three hundred and twenty dollars, having stood near the site of the present jail. Mr. Maxey was a prominent character in the early days of Jefferson and took an active part in the affairs of the same, playing well his part in its organization and subsequent development.

James C. Maxey, the subject of this sketch, received his early educational training in the log school-houses of the pioneer days in Jefferson county, one of the schools which he attended having been taught by Henry G. Hook near Walnut Hill, which school the father and mother of the honorable
William J. Bryan also attended. This was about the year 1837. Reared amid such rural environments it is not strange that our subject should early turn his attention to farming and stock raising, making these his life work and, useless to add that he has been eminently successful, establishing an excellent home and laying by a competency for his declining years.

James C. Maxey's happy domestic life dates from October 31, 1850, when he was united in marriage with Nancy J. Moss, who was also a descendant on the maternal side of an influential pioneer family, Lewis Johnson. Her father, Ransom Moss, settled near Shiloh church in an early day and when his first wife died old Shiloh cemetery was laid out and she was the first person buried there.

Eight children were born to the subject and wife, namely: John R., deceased; Walter S., who is a member of the firm of Rackaway & Maxey; Oliver W., deceased; Oscar S. and Albion F., both successful farmers of Mount Vernon township; James Henry, agent of the Standard Oil Company and secretary and treasurer of the Mount Vernon Ice & Storage Company; Lillie, who is the wife of I. F. Sugg, a merchant of Kinmundy, Illinois; Moss, a physician and surgeon of Mount Vernon, Illinois.

Our subject was one of the loyal defenders of the national government during the days of the rebellion, having enlisted in Company I, Fifty-eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, performing well his duty at all times and was honorably discharged at the close of the war.

Mr. Maxey has never aspired to positions of public trust, although he has been called upon to serve in various responsible public offices. He has been school trustee of Shiloh township; also Supervisor of Moore's Prairie township for two years and also was Supervisor of Mount Vernon township for a period of four years. By strict economy as Supervisor, and by encouraging paupers to at least partially support themselves he cut down the expenses of the township about one half, and it was due to his untiring efforts and good management that he succeeded in inducing the County Board of Supervisors to vote with him in a decision to build the four splendid granitoid walks leading from each door of the court-house, connecting with the curbing around the court-house square. He has always manifested an abiding interest in the development of his county and township and his support could always be depended upon in furthering any movement looking to the betterment of the public in general.

Mr. Maxey and his faithful life companion are now living at their pleasant and cozy home on Taylor Avenue, both enjoying splendid health and a well earned respite from very active and useful lives, the subject being now (1909) in his eighty-second year and Mrs. Maxey in her seventy-sixth year, having rounded out fifty-eight years of harmonious and blissful married life. They have the undivided respect and admiration of a wide circle of friends who know them only as ever honest, kindly and gentle.
[Source: "History Of Jefferson County, IL" By: John A. Wall, ©1909, pgs 357-359 - Sub. by Cindy Ford]

The Maxeys
In the early settlement of the county, the Maxey family comes next. Jesse Maxey, of Tennessee, had several children: William, Edward, Walter, John and Elizabeth. William, who was married, came to Illinois in 1818, and was appointed Justice of the Peace. He tried to marry Ransom Moss and Anna Johnson. and "broke down" completely. Some say he commenced on the Declaration of Independence; backed off and tackled the Constitution of the United States, and finally got through, but Governor Casey twitted him with saying that the Lord instituted matrimony in the days of men's "ignorance" instead of "innocence." He finally concluded with the invocation: "And may the Lord have mercy on your souls." And thus ended the first marriage ceremony ever "pulled off" in Jefferson county. Mr. Maxey was a good man, if not very learned. His children were: Clarissa, Henry B., Bennett N., Elihu, Harriet, Vylinda, Charles H., Joshua C.,William M. A. and Jehu. Burchett Maxey came in time to buy a lot and build the first house ever built in Mount Vernon. He married Peggy Taylor and their children were: Eliza, who married Col. S. G. Hicks; W. P., Thomas B., Elizabeth (married Breeze); Elihu K., John H., James C., who married Nancy Moss, and still lives in Mount Vernon; Edward K., Jehu J., Henry B., Franklin C. and Harvey M. Walter S., Henry, Oscar and Frank, are sons of James C. and Nancy (Moss) Maxey; Mrs. Sugg, her daughter.

Henry N. Maxey was in the War of 1812, and with General Jackson at New Orleans. His children were: Emily, William H., James J., Charles H., Joshua C., Eliza and Thomas J. William and James were preachers. Elihu, the one who whipped Abbott, married Eveline Taylor, then Sarah Guthrie, built a horse mill., was a benefactor and met accidental death. He had ten children Talina, married Mervel Smith; Perrigan T., Henry, William C., Thomas, Elizabeth, Margaret and Eliza.

Charles H. was the son of William and married Sally Bruce. His children were: Caroline, Mary, Martha, Drucilla. F. S. Parker married Caroline, Joseph Burke married Mary, C. D. Frost married Martha, G. A. Collins married Susan, and James M. Swift married Drucilla. Joshua Cannon, son of William, married Susan Criswell, and their daughters were Mrs. M. A. Cummins and Mrs. John C. Tyler and son. Thomas, who died recently.

Dr. William A. Maxey, youngest son of William, married Edna Owens. He was both physician and preacher. His children were: Simeon W., Samuel T. (spoken of elsewhere), William C., Harriet J. (Mrs. Satterfield), Sarah C. (Mrs. S. Hill), J. Van, and Nelson, who married Miss Burgen and lives in Iowa.

John Maxey, son of Jesse, came in 1823 with William and Jonathan Wells, removed to Wayne county and died. Such, in brief, was the Maxey families, who first came in to help make the county and mould sentiments of good citizenship, and along both lines they have been eminently successful.
[Source: "History Of Jefferson County, IL" By: John A. Wall, ©1909, pgs 82-83 - Sub. by Cindy Ford]

Capt. Samuel Thompson Maxey
The career of the well known gentleman whose name appears above has been a strenuous and varied one, the distinction which he has attained in different spheres of activity entitle him to honorable mention among the leading men and representative citizens of the county with which his life has been so closely identified. The name of Maxey has been prominent in the annuals of Jefferson county ever since this part of the state was opened for settlement, and to the subject's grandfather belongs the credit of having been one of the first white men to introduce civilization into what is now one of the most progressive and enlightened sections of the state.

The Maxey family was among the early settlers of Virginia, in colonial times and shortly after the Revolutionary period one, Jesse Maxey, a native of that state, moved to Tennessee, locating near the present site of Gallatin, where he took refuge in a fort for fear of the Indians. Having left the block-house in search of his horse, he was attacked by the savages a short time afterwards, and was shot, scalped and had his throat cut, but through the interposition of a renegade white man by the name of Fenton, his skull was not cleft, the man detecting signs of life which had escaped the eyes of the Indians. The firing of guns brought immediate assistance from the fort and although left for dead, he subsequently recovered and survived the massacre for a period of fifteen to twenty years, during all of which time he suffered continuously from the wound in his throat which refused to heal. Instead of making him fear the red skins this fearful experience seemed to exasperate him to such an extent that from that time onward he never ceased in his attempts to rid the country of the savages, taking part in a number of movements against them and displaying unusual boldness and ferocity in fight. This brave and intrepid pioneer died many years ago but left to perpetuate his name a number of descendants in whom were reproduced the bravery and sterling worth which made him known and respected among his contemporaries.

One of his sons, the grandfather of the subject, a native of Virginia, was a young man when the family migrated to Tennessee. He later became a successful farmer and large slave-holder. After some years he was converted and joined the Methodist church, following which he studied the question of human servitude in all of its phases until he came to the conclusion that the system was antagonistic to the spirit of the Gospel and that he could not maintain his Christian character while holding another in bondage. In due time therefore he emancipated all of his slaves except one negro girl and became one of the active and influential abolitionists of his part of the country. The unpleasant relations with his neighbors to which this radical change gave rise together with a desire to escape the presence of slavery led him as early as 1818 to move to Illinois. In May of that year he arrived in what was then Franklin county, now the county of Jefferson, and as stated in a preceding paragraph he was one of the original pioneers of this part of the state and for a number of years one of the leading men of the community in which he lived. After entering land and founding a home he freed and educated the negro girl whom he brought with him, in addition to which he also began teaching the doctrines of abolitionism among the settlers and in due time was largely instrumental in arousing a sentiment against slavery and keeping the county free from its blighting presence and influence.

Mr. Maxey built the first mill in Jefferson county, a small primitive affair which was operated by horse power but which was highly prized by the settlers, who, prior to its construction, were obliged to go to Carmi, fifty miles distant, for their breadstuff, or make it by hand at home. Water was afterwards used as a motive power, and for many years the mill manufactured both flour and lumber, and was extensively patronized. Mr. Maxey was also one of the founders of the old cotton factory on the Cumberland river, near Gallatin, Tennessee, and after becoming a resident of Illinois, took a prominent part in developing the country and introducing various industries, becoming a leader among his fellow men and to no small degree a moulder of opinion in matters of public as well as local interest. He lived a useful life and was highly esteemed by the early residents of Jefferson county, all of whom deplored his loss when stricken by the hand of death in 1837, at the age of sixty-eight years, his wife preceding him to the grave by only a few months. He was a contemporary and a neighbor of the great grandfather of Hon. William Jennings Bryan and between the two a warm and loyal friendship was maintained as long as they both lived. Seven sons and three daughters constituted the family of this sturdy pioneer, all of whom lived to rear families of their own, one son and two daughters, being married at the same time by the same ceremony. The gentleman who officiated at this triune marriage was Zadok Casey, afterwards Governor of Illinois, and for a period of twenty years a member of Congress from the district where he lived. Bennett Maxey, one his sons, was a soldier under General Jackson, and took part in the battle of New Orleans.

Another son by the name of William M. A. Maxey was born in Tennessee and was six years of age when the family moved to Illinois in 1818. He was reared amid the stirring scenes of the pioneer period and when a young man bought timber from which he split rails, at fifty cents per hundred, to pay for his tuition for a few months at a subscription school, in which the three fundamentals "readin', writin' and 'rithmetic," constituted the course of study. Despite this indifferent intellectual discipline, however, he subsequently became not only one of the best informed men of the community, but in due time read medicine and for more than forty years was one of the most successful physicians in Jefferson county. Medical men being few in those days caused a wide demand for his services, and it is said that his patients were scattered over three counties. In waiting on them he rode many hundred miles and was not infrequently absent from home three weeks while making his professional calls. He also devoted considerable attention to agriculture, and his farm now owned and occupied by his son, the subject of this review, was one of the best improved and most productive of the part of the county in which it is situated. Captain Maxey has in his possession the old pair of saddle bags in which his father carried medicines to treat all diseases common to humanity in the early times, the leather being still strong and the contents of the bags the same as when he discontinued practice, after his long and arduous service.

The maiden name of Mrs. William M. A. Maxey was Edna Owen. She was born in Silver Springs, Sumner county, Tennessee, but was reared in Wilson county, that state. When a young woman she came to Jefferson county, Illinois, in 1823, with her parents, Peter and Mary (Overbey) Owen, who were born, reared and married in Virginia, and carried all their earthly belongings across the mountains on horseback to Tennessee. Peter Owen was a soldier in the Revolutionary war and his hatred for a Tory was proverbial during his lifetime.

Capt. Samuel Thompson Maxey was born August 29, 1834, in Jefferson county, Illinois, and passed his early life on the family homestead, attending in winter season the subscription schools in a primitive log house which had long been used for the purpose. When old enough to be of service he worked in the woods, clearing the ground, cultivating the soil, etc., and during the greater part of his minority his life consisted of a ceaseless round of labor which resulted in a strong physique and the formation of habits which had no little influence in developing a well rounded character and directing his thoughts and actions in proper channels. Young Maxey remained with his parents until the nations sky became overcast with the ominous clouds of rebellion when he laid aside the implements of husbandry and tendered his services to the government. In June, 1861, he rode horseback to Cairo, where he enlisted in Company H, First Illinois Cavalry, and after a brief period of instruction at that place accompanied his command in the Southeastern Missouri and the Southwestern Kentucky campaigns, taking part in the battle and capture of New Madrid, Island No. 10, Tiptonville, and the capture of Memphis, reaching the latter city the day after the arrival of the Federal gun-boats. In July, 1862, his regiment reported at Benton Harbor, to be mustered out by a general order from the War Department, after which he returned home. Within three weeks he assisted in organizing what subsequently became Company B of the One Hundred Tenth Infantry, of which he was elected first lieutenant. For brave and meritorious conduct at the battle of Stone River, where he rendered especially valuable service, he was promoted the following February, captain of the company, although suffering at the time from a painful wound received in the above engagement. Notwithstanding the loss of an eye and the lacerating of his arm by the explosion of a shell, Captain Maxey persisted in remaining with his men and continued at his post of duty until the One Hundred Tenth was consolidated, when by reason of there being more captains than companies and he the junior officer of that grade he was mustered out of the service. Returning home the captain devoted three months to provost duty, but in February 1864, reentered the service by enlisting as a private in the Sixth Illinois Cavalry, which he joined at Memphis, where he was soon afterwards appointed a drill master. Later he was made second lieutenant of Company H, and after campaigning through Mississippi, Western Tennessee and Northern Alabama he took part in the movement to check the Confederate forces under General Hood, who were advancing on Franklin and Nashville. In the battle at the former place Captain Maxey commanded the company which brought on the engagement and as in other actions signalized himself by brave and gallant conduct which won the confidence of the men of his command, and the approbation of his superiors. After the battle he went to Nashville, thence to Kentucky, but retiring to that city in time to take part in the battle, was again sent with his company to the front to draw the fire of the enemy and bring on the actions. He proved equal to the trying emergency and was not only in the thickest of the fight but captured the first bastion and was the first to capture a battery and turn the guns on the enemy, besides seizing with his own hands the Confederate colors which he returned to headquarters after the fighting had ceased. Captain Maxey assisted in the pursuit of the enemy to the Tennessee river and in the taking of many prisoners, later went to the Gravalla Springs, Alabama, where he was promoted captain and for a short time commanded the regiment during its march to Eastport, Mississippi. In the latter state he served for a time in the quartermaster's department, subsequently being detailed on general court martial duty until the following July when he marched over the mountains to Montgomery, Alabama, thence to Demapolis, in the same state where he was appointed provost marshal of the post, which position he held until mustered out of the service at Selma, Alabama, on November 6th of the year 1865.

On the first day of December following Captain Maxey arrived home and again resumed the duties of citizenship, which he has since discharged with the same conscientious convictions which characterized his long and active career as a brave and honorable defender of the Union. In 1867 he entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal church, being appointed by the presiding elder as a supply in the Southern Illinois conference. Two years later he became an itinerant and during the thirteen years ensuing served various circuits and churches until failing health obliged him to discontinue further active work. At the expiration of the period indicated he retired to his farm in Jefferson county where he has since lived and prospered, the meanwhile devoting considerable time to his ministerial labors and adding much good in leading men to the higher life.

Captain Maxey has a beautiful and finely improved farm of two hundred and twenty acres, with good buildings, his residence being the old family dwelling erected by his father and so substantially constructed that it bids fair to stand another half century, a commodious, and to all intents and purposes a comfortable and attractive homestead. His other buildings are up-to-date and in excellent repair, and the splendid condition of the farm and everything thereon bespeak the presence of a man familiar with the latest development in agricultural science and is abreast of the times in all that relates to progress and improvement. In addition to general farming the captain is quite extensively engaged in the breeding and raising of fine stock and is also an enthusiastic and successful horticulturist, as his fifty acres of fine orchard in which the choicest varieties of all fruits grown in this latitude are produced. Believing in the conservation of the country's natural resources, the captain has not been destructive of timber as have many of his neighbors, having retained a valuable tract of woodland in which are many fine walnuts and other varieties sufficient for all purposes for many years to come.

Captain Maxey's wife before her marriage was Miss Sarah Pearcy, a native of Jefferson county, and daughter of John B. and Amanda (Moss) Pearcy, who moved to Illinois a number of years ago from Tennessee. Four daughters and one son constitute the family of this couple, namely: Lena Maud, born July 5, 1881, now the wife of Otto Fox, of this county; Edna A., born November 26, 1884, still a member of the home circle; Mary B., wife of Alva Swift, was born August 12, 1886; Harriet R. was horn on August 26, 1888, died in infancy, and William Olin was born on March 17, 1894. Captain Maxey is an unswerving Republican in his political views and at various times has been honored with local offices, being at this time official Surveyor of Jefferson county. He has been active and influential in promoting an interest in agriculture, is a leader and effective lecturer in Farmer's Institutes and some years ago was a delegate to the Farmer's Congress of the United States. He is closely identified with the agricultural interests of Illinois and is frequently called to different parts of the state to address institutes and other assemblies in behalf of the farmers. He has been a consistent member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows for fifty-three years and one of the oldest Odd Fellows in the state, and has filled all the chairs in the local lodge with which he is identified besides representing it on a number of occasions in the Grand Lodge. He is also a leading member of the Grand Army of the Republic in which he has held every office within the gift of the fraternity and keeps well informed concerning the old soldiers as well as profoundly versed in the history of the country for the preservation of which he has devoted several years of his life.
[Source: "History Of Jefferson County, IL" By: John A. Wall, ©1909, pgs 359-367 - Sub. by Cindy Ford]

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