James C. MAXEY

The family is the first institution and lies at the base of everything that is good in society and it is well to study the history of our family and try to improve wherein our ancestors may have done amiss in the past, or at least maintain the record of sobriety, patriotism and honor handed down to us. It ought to be an inspiration to every one to know he has descended from a long line of upright, intelligent men and women. Vicious indeed is the one who would bring reproach intentionally upon a name that has been maintained in honor for many generations, and it is always a great pleasure for an individual to know the origin and beginning of his house and surname, and how long it has stood, with good actions and virtue of his predecessors. No family in Southern Illinois has a longer line of traceable ancestors, worthier to be honored and more sterling in characteristics than the Maxey family, which name has existed in America for nearly three centuries, and which is the oldest and best known in Jefferson county, Illinois, therefore it is with no little pleasure that the biographer herein sets forth the record, in brief outline of the Maxey family, of which the subject is an honored representative. 

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. 

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