WALTER S. MAXEY.
One of the oldest families in Jefferson county, or indeed, in the United States, has its representative in Walter S. Maxey, since 1884 actively connected with the drug business, and for a number of years a member of one of the leading drug firms in Mount Vernon. The early history of this interesting family is well worth some consideration, in view of its direct bearing upon the communities with which the family became identified and the fact that they have been American pioneers since 1725.
Walter S. Maxey, born March 8, 1854, in Jefferson county, is the son of James C. Maxey, who was born in Shiloh township, Jefferson county, on June 14, 1827. He has the unique distinction of being the oldest living native born citizen of that county. He was the son of Burchett Maxey, the grandson of William Maxey and the great-grandson of Jesse Maxey, the latter having been one of the oldest or earliest settlers of Tennessee. He was shot and scalped by Indians in a general massacre near Gallatin, Tennessee, and left for dead, but he revived and lived for twenty years thereafter. Jesse was the son of Edward Maxey, whose father was Walter Maxey, the first who immigrated to America from Wales in 1725, settling first in Maryland. The descendants of Walter Maxey settled in Virginia, later removing to Sumner county, Tennessee, and thence to Jefferson county, Illinois, where the family has been active and prominent since that time. Burchett Maxey, representing the fourth generation of American born Maxeys and the grandfather of Walter S. Maxey, of whom we write, came to Jefferson county with his wife and two children in 1818. They came overland, and his son, Perigan, was the first white person buried in the county, he having died at Morse's Prairie. The family soon afterward settled near Mount Vernon and in 1823 Mr. Maxey built a log house, the site of which is now occupied by the Third National Bank. Burchett Maxey's log cabin was the first building to be erected on what is now the public square. He also built the first jail in Jefferson county. It was a crude affair, constructed of logs at a cost of $320.00, but it was well built and answered the needs of the time. He also built the first residence on the public square of Mount Vernon. His son, James
C., born after their advent into Jefferson county, attended school in a log school house near Walnut Hill taught by Henry G. Hook. The mother and father of William Jennings Bryan also attended that little school, all unconscious then of the fame and name to be theirs in later life as a result of the public character of a son of theirs.
The schooling of James C. Maxey was of necessity limited, and he remained in the Mount Vernon home until he was of a sufficient age to undertake the responsibilities of looking out for himself. He became interested in farming and stock raising, and as time went on branched out in that industry, buying land and then more land, increasing his herds gradually until he had accumulated a comfortable fortune, enabling him to retire from the pressing activities of the busy life he had led for so many years, and he is now living quietly and comfortably, his declining years amply provided for by the thrift and industry of his earlier years. On October 31, 1850, was solemnized the marriage of James Maxey and Nancy J. Moss. She was a descendant on the maternal side of an influential pioneer family, Louis Johnson, being her maternal grandfather. Her father, Ransom Moss, settled near Shiloh Church, and when his first wife died Old Shiloh cemetery was laid out, and she was the first person to be buried in that famous cemetery. They were the parents of eight children. They were: John R., deceased; Walter S., of whom we write; Oliver W., deceased; Oscar S.; Albion F.; James Henry, agent of the Standard Oil Company and secretary and treasurer of the Mount Vernon Ice & Storage Company; Lillie, the wife of I. F. Sugg, a merchant of Kinmundy, Illinois; and Moss, a physician and surgeon in Mount Vernon, The father, James C. Maxey, is a veteran of the Civil war, having fought in Company L, Fifty-eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He has in his time filled numerous responsible positions of a public nature, thus demonstrating his public spiritedness and willingness to advance the general welfare of his home community, if further demonstration were necessary. He is now in his eighty-fifth year, and his wife is in her seventy-ninth year.
Walter S. Maxey was educated in the common and high schools of his native county. When he was twenty years of age he began teaching, and devoted himself to the pedagogic art for nine years in Jefferson county. In the fall of 1880 he discontinued his labors in the field of education and took a position as a clerk in the grocery store of the late S. K. Latham, where he was employed for three years, a part of the time in the employ of S. G. H. Taylor, who was the successor of Mr. Latham. In the winter of 1884 Mr. Maxey served on the grand jury at Springfield for three months, being clerk of that body. In July, 1884, he entered the drug store of Porter & Bond as a clerk, with the express intention of learning the drug business, and how well he lived up to his intentions and expectations is evidenced by the flourishing business of which he is now one of the proprietors. In 1889 he became a registered pharmacist as a result of his carefully pursued studies in connection with his regular duties, and he formed a partnership with Dr. A. C. Johnson and J. H. Rackaway to conduct a drug business. In 1900 Maxey & Rackaway became the owners of the entire business, under which firm name the business is still being conducted in a manner most creditable to both gentlemen in charge.
In 1888 Mr. Maxey was married to Miss Almeda Hicks, a daughter of Colonel S. G. Hicks of Jefferson county. In 1891 Mrs. Maxey died, and in 1900 Mr. Maxey contracted a second marriage, when Miss Estella Wiedeman, a graduate and teacher of the Mount Vernon schools, became his wife. Of this latter union four children were born. They
are: Walter Charles, aged ten years; James Wayland, aged eight; Margaret Moss, five years old; and Taylor, aged two years.
Mr. Maxey is prominent in political circles, and is a Democrat in his faith. He has filled the office of assessor for his township, also collector, and he was for several terms a trustee of the schools of Mount Vernon township. He was once the Democratic candidate for the office of mayor of his city, and ran better than a hundred votes ahead of his ticket, but was defeated by a small majority, Mount Vernon being a distinctly Republican city. Mr. Maxey is a man of much enterprise, always prominent in the front ranks of the leaders of his city, and his reputation is of a high order that permits of no adverse criticism.