Marion County Obituaries

Dr. John C. Maxwell

Contributed By: Deb Shillo


Action of the First Presbyterian church.

Dr. Maxwell, was the son of Joseph and Eunice Stiles Maxwell; he was the second of ten children, and was the last of this large family to be called from this world to their Heavenly inheritance.  He was born near this place Dec. 10, 1816, and died April 26, 1895, in the 79 year of his age.  He spent his whole life in this community, with the exception of the time he was absent acquiring his education; he receiver his literary education at Centre College, and at Oxford, O, where he graduated in 1836, and his medical education at Transylvania University, Lexington, Ky.

His parents were earnest Christian people.  His father was an influential and devoted elder of the Presbyterian church in this place for many years, and his mother is still spoken of as a most intelligent and godly woman.  She died in 1879 in her 87th years of age at her daughter's, Mrs. Harlan, in Boyle County, Ky.  The children of these pious parents were most carefully instructed at home in the great principles of Devine truth, as was customary then in Presbyterian families. 

Dr. Maxwell connected himself with the church of his father, and in 1844 was elected and ordained a ruling elder.  It was the same day that his old college friend, Dr. Thomas H. Cleland, was ordained and installed as pastor of this church.  He has been in continuous service as one of the ruling elders ever since-- a period of more than fifty years, and they have been momentous years in the history of the church.  During all this time he has taken an active part in its councils and helped to shape its course.  He was devoted to the doctrines and form of Government of the Presbyterian Church.  Though he was a man of positive convictions, yet he was loved and liberal in his views and feelings towards those who differed from him.  He loved his Christian brethren of every name and denomination.  He took an active interest in the higher of the church, and frequently represented his church in Presbytery and Synod, and was always recognized as a influential member of those bodies; he also represented his Presbytery at least five times in the General Assembly.  He was a member of the board of Directors of the Theological Seminary at Danville for about thirty years and was very faithful in attending the meetings of the board.  At the last annual meeting of the board before his death, he was present and took an active interest in the examinations and in all the proceedings. 

He frequently expressed his faith by repeating a verse from that beautiful hymn of Watts which reads,

"My faith would lay his hand

On that dear heart of thine,

While like a penitent I stand,

And then confess my sin."

This was his faith. It was simply believing in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and clinging to Him through every storm and trial, and in every experience.  He loved also to repeat that expression of the Apostle Paul's in Phil, 4:11, "I have learned, in whatever state I am, there with to be content."  He would say, "I am trying to learn a lesson," and very recently he said, "I feel I have almost learned it."

Dr. Maxwell was married twice.  In May 1844, to Miss Emily Howell, who died August, 1845, leaving one child, Mrs. D.H. Howard, of this place; and in July, 1847, he was married to Miss Ellen P. Doneghy, of Boyle county, who survives him.

At the beginning of the recent war Dr. Maxwell took a positive position in favor of the Union, and entered the United States service as Port Surgeon, and was located at Lebanon.  Afterwards he was appointed Surgeon of the Enrolling Board of this district.  In this position he rendered valuable service not only to the Government but also to this community, in counseling Moderation, and in preventing many excess which in those exciting times even too common in different parts of Kentucky.  To him, probably, as much as to any other man, was this community indebted for the comparative quiet which the people enjoyed during those troublous times.

During his long life Dr. Maxwell was prominently identified with the best interest of our church and this community; his voice and his influence was always on the side of righteousness.  Few men were more generally respected and loved.  Even those who differed from him recognized his high character, honesty of purpose and genuine kindness of heart, his cheerfulness of disposition, gentleness and urbanity of manner, won him friends wherever he went.  He was popular with both the old and young, the rich and poor.  The children always welcomed him.  To an unusual degree, for a man of his age, he kept in sympathy with them, he loved to have them about him, and did all he could to add to their happiness.  Many of the poor in this world's goods feel they have lost on of their best friends.  He was charitable almost to a fault, and generous in dealing with his fellowmen.

 We desire to record our high appreciation of Dr. Maxwell as a Christian, an elder in the church, a friend and a citizen.  In every relation in life he sought to illustrate his Christian faith.  In his death we have met with a severe loss; but our loss we feel is his gain.  For him, as it was with the great apostle of the Gentiles, "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord," "which is far better."





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