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. 

Visit RootsWeb
 HOME | Biography Index Page

Please send additions & corrections to 
Jefferson County Coordinator Cindy Ford
© 2005-2016 by Cindy Ford
All rights reserved