Friday, November 2, 2012

Maxwell, Hon. Walter S.

W.S. Maxwell
(Source:  Portrait and Biographical Album, Racine and Kenosha  Counties, Lake City Publishing Co., 1892, Chicago)

Hon. Walter S. Maxwell, who resides on Section 34, Somers Township, is  not only one of the well-known citizens of Kenosha County, but has also a wide acquaintance throughout the State, his official career having brought him in contact with many of the most prominent men of Wisconsin.  He now devotes his time and attention to agricultural pursuits and to business connected with the operation of a stone quarry in Superior, Wisconsin, owned by the Arcadian Brown Stone Company, of which he is manager and treasurer.  Mr. Maxwell was born in Washington County, New York, September 12, 1836, and his father, Alexander Maxwell, also claimed that county as his birthplace.  He was born January 24, 1809.  In his native county he married Jane Alexander, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, who when a maiden of ten summers came to this country with her father, Robert Alexander, who was one of the early settlers and substantial farmers of Washington County, New York.
On the paternal side, our subject is also of Scotch descent.  His grandfather, Walter Maxwell, was born in Scotland, and on crossing the Atlantic took up his residence in Washington County, New York, which was then an almost unbroken wilderness.  His son Daniel served as a soldier in the War of 1812.  The father, Alexander Maxwell, resided upon the old family homestead after his marriage and purchasing the interest of the other heirs, succeeded to the ownership of that estate.
For long he made it his home and upon it reared his family, but in 1890, he sold out and, laying aside all business cares,  removed to Coila, a little village six miles from the old farm, where he and his estimable wife are now living retired.  They are highly respected people and the esteem of the entire community is accorded them.  In their family were six sons and four daughters who grew to manhood and womanhood and with one exception all are living - Mary is the wife of Hon. Robert Graham, ex-State Superintendent of schools, residing in Oshkosh, Wis.; Elizabeth is the wife of William Eldridge of Cambridge, New York; Walter S. is the next younger; Hon. Robert A. of Batavia, New York, is a prominent politician and the only member of the family who advocates Democracy.  He was one of the State Commissioners of New York and also served as State Treasurer being the only one elected on the Democratic ticket; Catherine C., wife of J.H. Alexander, who is a resident of Huron, South Dak.  He is a merchant by occupation; William J. is a real-estate dealer of Omaha, Neb; Jennie is the wife of Horton Barber of Greenwich, New York; George H. is living in Ames, Iowa; Alexander grew to manhood and came to Kenosha County, where his death occurred; Martin B., a resident of Washington County, has been a most successful teacher.
We now take up the personal history of our subject who in his native county spent the days of his boyhood and youth upon his father's farm.  In the common schools and the State Normal he acquired his education, and after completing his studies engaged in teaching for a few years.  Believing the West furnished better opportunities for young men, he came to Wisconsin in 1860, locating in Kenosha County.  He bought a half section of fine prairie land, which has since been his home, and although then unimproved, he has made it one of the most valuable and desirable farms in the county.  It is situated three miles west of Kenosha and with all its improvements, accessories and conveniences it is a model farm.
Mr. Maxwell has been three times married.  In Easton, New York, he wedded Miss Anna A. Robinson, a native of the Empire State, who died in Kenosha county, leaving one son, Elmer A., who is now operating the home farm.  He wedded Anna A. Greenbaum, who was born in Connecticut, and survived her marriage only two years.  The present Mrs. Maxwell was in her maidenhood Miss Cornelia McLean.  She was born in Washington County, New York, is a daughter of John C. McLean of Greenwich, New York, and their marriage was celebrated in 1880.
In 1860, Mr. Maxwell proudly cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln and at each Presidential election since that time has supported the candidates of the Republican Party.  He takes great interest in the triumph of its principles and has been frequently honored with positions of public trust.  For ten consecutive years he served as Supervisor of the Town Board, was elected its Chairman and for one year was Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors.  In 1877, he was elected to the State Legislature as the representative from his district and so well did he fill the office that he was re-elected in 1881, and again in 1883.    He served as Chairman of the Educational Committee, and upon a number of other important committees.  When his term as Representative had expired he was elected State Senator in 1884, serving four years with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of his constituents.  He was again on several important committees and was Chairman of the Agricultural Committee.  Mr. Maxwell has ever endeavored to use his influence and power for the advancement of those interests which will bring the best good to the greatest number.  His public life is above reproach and he proved himself to be an honorable and trusted official.
Purchasing an interest in the Arcadian Brown Stone company of Superior, Wis., he was made its manager and Treasurer serving as such for the past four years.  The quarry turns out a very superior quality of brown sand stone for building purposes and the company is now doing a good business, working about thirty men.  Mr. Maxwell gives that interest his attention during the summer months and with the snows of winter returns to his home in Kenosha County.  He and his estimable wife are members of the Congregational Church of Kenosha and in social circles rank high.
(Source: Portrait and Biographical Album, Racine and Kenosha Counties, Lake City Publishing Co., 1892, Chicago)

Partial 1861 Map of Somers Township, Kenosha County
Section 34, W.S. Maxwell parcels - two at 160 acres (also extends south into Illinois)
Click on image for larger view.

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