Saturday, March 14, 2015


aunt Minerva collection
June 2, 1918 being my fiftieth marriage Anniversary, also I am seventy-two years and six months old. I, Mary Ann Fields, will endeavor to write from memory a brief history of the Maxwell and Witten families. What I learned on my grandfather's knee, when I was a curious and inquisitive child.
James Maxwell came to America from Ireland in the Eighteenth Century in the days of George Washington. He was a Scotch and Irish descent. Was in several Indian skirmishes during the Revolution. He fought at the Battle of Kings Mountains. Was never wounded. He was a very large man, over six feet tall, and weighed 225 pounds, broad shouldered, well built, had powerful voice, had coarse straight hair which stood straight on his head, fair complexion, blue eyes, he was considered a very powerful man. He married a Miss Roberts, (someone has hand written "Jane") some time before the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. Raised a family during the hostilities with the Indians, the mothers with their children lived in forts together for protection. My own grandfather and grandmother lived in the same fort in Virginia. They used to tell me of their many hardships, trials and fear of the Indians when living in forts.
In the4 course of human events and the Indians became less hostile and more friendly to the white man. My great-grandfather emigrated to the western part of Virginia. Settled in Tazewell County, Virginia on Cavitts Creek near Clinch River, four miles from the Courthouse. He owned a nice farm, owned cattle, horses, sheep, and hogs, was considered a "well-to-do" farmer at that time. His horses, cattle and sheep ran at large for want of fences and enclosed pastures. He kept four large Dane dogs for protection when he went in search of his cattle and horses. He had a large dog before and behind him, his gun on his shoulder, a knife at his side. He never looked to the right or left, went straight forward with a firm step and a fixed determination to conquer or die. The Indians never molested him, they were deadly afraid of him, called him: "The Great White Chief." He left two dogs with the family. He had a neighbor, a small sickly man, named "Scaggs", whom the Indians called "Nobody."
My great grandfather and his sons worked hard, cleared the timber from their land built a crude log house and out buildings, had a garden, also set out a young orchard, had also fields to riase corn, rye, and such grain as they could get seed for. Autumn rolled around and he had to take his horses and sons and go to King's salt works, now called Palmer works, to get salt, to save his meat, also for his stock. The mother was left with the younger sons and oldest daughter. The mother was confined to her bed with an infant. Some stray skulking Indians were passing through came to the little home in the forest, scalped and tomahawked the two little sisters, Jennie and Mattie Maxwell. They each had a pet lamb, they asked their sister, Mary if they could go in the orchard to find their pets, she gave them her consent. They tarried too long, she went in search of them found the dead lambs and the two children slain, one was dead the other died that night. Oh, the horrors of that awful night, no friends near them to lend a helping hand. Oh, the said coming home of that father. Night settled down upon them, in the bleak forest. Night where screams of the owl shrills ghastly through the stillness. Could you imagine anything more horrible? His farm at one time had been an Indian village, there were large mounds still in the orchard of pinwincles shells, they had got them from the creek and Clinch river, they had used them for soups. I had the pleasure as a child of visiting the old homestead of my forefathers, where he lived and raised his family. I do not know when he sold his farm. There was born to this union: Robert Maxwell, Mary Maxwell, John Maxwell, Margaret Maxwell, James Maxwell, Jennie and Mattie killed by the Indians, and Elizabeth Maxwell. I never knew who my grandfathers brothers married his sister Margaret married David Whitley, had a home on Clinch river a few miles from the county seat in Tazewell County. He was a fine mechanic, very thrifty and industrious. He built a fine grist mill run by water power, also a saw mill, cut all his lumber. He and my grandfather Deskins built the first two stone dwellings in Tazewell, both on Clinch river, six miles apart, of lime stone in the rough dressed by hand, built very substantial and strong, well finished in those pioneer days. At that time were considered mansions, they are now in good condition, still inhabited. They are living monuments of honest labor of over a century ago. Many of their posterities are living and bear the name of Whitley in Tazewell County, Virginia.
-----turned to my trusty friends google and to find out what pinwincles shells are, they both suggested I was looking for "periwinkle shells."??? image periwinkle shells. Periwinkles are a large family of gastropod molluscs found on the shore. The flat periwinkle is so-called because the spire of the shell is flattened (2). The tear-drop shaped aperture is large (3), and the colour is variable depending on the habitat. It is usually olive-green but may be brown, yellow, banded or have a criss-cross pattern (2). Lighter colours are associated with sheltered shores (3).
Elizabeth Maxwell married William Marrs, raised a family, his sons, William and Maxwell Marrs, married two sisters Jennie and Sallie Brooks. Maxwell Marrs had a family, two have visited his widow and children. William and his wife had no family. The brothers and their wives are buried in Tazewell. The rest of the Marrs families moved to Kentucky. James Maxwell, my grandfather was born the spring of 1780, was married to Mary Witten, daughter of Jerry Witten, she was born in 1780. They were married in the year of 1804. They lived a long and happy life. He was of a lively and jolly temperment, honorable, sober, industrious man, a fine mechanic, a wagon maker by trade, also plows and harrows, and all kinds of implements by hand. He lived near Clinch river, owned a good farm, an orchard, a good home and shops. The Maxwell families owned very few slaves. They preferred land, fine horses and cattle, grist mills, merchantile, also fine mechanics. They were good citizens, beloved by all who knew them. Sober, industrious, kind husbands, and fathers. No office seekers, not rich but well-to-do. The bone and sinew of the Country. The happiest days of my life, I spent in my grandfather's shop among his sharp, bright, well kept tools. I spent a good part of my time when a child with my grand-parents. They always kept the big red apples for me, which made me very happy. They were the fond parents of five children; three boys and two girls, namely: Witten Maxwell, Robert Maxwell, Sallie Maxwell, James Maxwell, Margaret Maxwell.
Witten Maxwell, the first born in the year 18058, married Alice Criswell. They had five children, namely: James C., Susan, Henry, Evans, Mary G., and Francis M. (deb's note: this is 6 names?)
Susan Maxwell married Montraville Steele in 1850, They were a lovely couple. There were born three sons, and one daughter. They all died of flux in ten days. Later she had a daughter, Rebecca, and the mother died of diphtheria during the War of the Confederacy.
----google search for FLUX gave me dysentery (aka BLOODY FLUX) *Dysentery is a general term for a group of gastrointestinal disorders characterized by inflammation of the intestines, particularly the colon. Characteristic features include abdominal pain and cramps, straining at stool (tenesmus), and frequent passage of watery diarrhea or stools containing blood and mucus. The English word dysentery comes from two Greek words meaning "ill" or "bad" and "intestine." *It should be noted that some doctors use the word "dysentery" to refer only to the first two major types of dysentery discussed below, while others use the term in a broader sense. For example, some doctors speak of schistosomiasis, a disease caused by a parasitic worm, as bilharzial dysentery, while others refer to acute diarrhea caused by viruses as viral dysentery. *Dysentery is a common but potentially serious disorder of the digestive tract that occurs throughout the world. It can be caused by a number of infectious agents ranging from viruses and bacteria to protozoa and parasitic worms; it may also result from chemical irritation of the intestines. Dysentery is one of the oldest known gastrointestinal disorders, having been described as early as the Peloponnesian War in the fifth century B.C. Epidemics of dysentery were frequent occurrences aboard sailing vessels as well as in army camps, walled cities, and other places in the ancient world where large groups of human beings lived together in close quarters with poor sanitation. As late as the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, sailors and soldiers were more likely to die from the "bloody flux" than from injuries received in battle. It was not until 1897 that a bacillus (rod-shaped bacterium) was identified as the cause of one major type of dysentery. Dysentery in the modern world is most likely to affect people in the less developed countries and travelers who visit these areas. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most cases of dysentery in the United States occur in immigrants from the developing countries and in persons who live in inner-city housing with poor sanitation. Other groups of people at increased risk of dysentery are military personnel stationed in developing countries, frequent travelers, children in day care centers, people in nursing homes, and men who have sex with other men.
Witten Maxwell and wife are both dead. Witten was killed by a railroad train near Pisgah in Tazwell. He was far in the eighty-ninth year, if he had not been killed perhaps would have lived to a grand old age.
Grandfather Maxwell died in the spring of 1866, being eighty six years old. Grandmother died in the year of 1873, being ninety three years old.
Robert Maxwell was born in 1807, the same year of Abraham Lincoln's birth. Married Margaret Bates. Her mother was the daughter of Ebenezar Brewster, married Thomas Bates. The young husband and wife moved by wagon, west to Illinois. After they got to their destination, very soon little margaret (this is how it is printed...lower case. deb) came to brighten their home in the west. But it was only a short time when the sad news came that the young wife had lost her life. The kindhearted Ebenezar Brewster made ready to go horseback for little Margaret to bring her home to be reared by the grandfather and mother. He made the lonely trip, found the little Margaret, carried her safe and sound horse back on a pillow in front of him all that distance to the anxious grandmother who was waiting. The little girl was only 2 years old. This was in pioneer days, railroads, telegraph, telephones and steam boats had not been in use. Illinois seemed so far west at that time, when the morning came he was to take his leave, all relatives and neighbors came from far and near, made a great gathering to say good-bye, and God speed a happy return. But thought it doubtful if they should ever see him or the little girl. But the same God that ruled over the destiny of man then as now. And they both returned home to the arms of loved ones. She grew to womanhood. Was a devoted and affectionate wife and mother. A most estimable Christian character, esteemed and beloved by all who knew her. They were the the fond parents of nine children. Four boys and five girls, namely: Thomas Bates, Charles J., Mary E., Sallie, James W., Manerva, John Chatten, Johanna, and Laura Maxwell. Charles, James and John all fought in the Confederate Army. John C. was a prisoner on Johnson Island.
to be continued.....

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