Monday, May 17, 2010

James Appleton Maxfield (1837-1903)

James Appleton Maxfield, great grandson of Richard Maxfield and Ann, grandson of John Maxfield and Hannah Appleton, and son of John Ellison Maxfield and Sarah Elizabeth Baker, was born on January 14, 1837 in Bedeque, Prince Edward Island, Canada. He was named after his great grandfather, James Appleton, of Yorkshire, England. 


James was one of eleven children. He crossed the plains to Utah with his family as a teenager. The eleventh child in the family, James' younger brother Henry, was actually born during the trek, in Wyoming! That means James' mother, Sarah Elizabeth Baker, went most of the way while pregnant.

James' first wife was Sophie Johnson (Dorthe Sophie Marcussen Jensen), daughter of Marcus Jensen and Ane Margrethe Lendhardsen. She was born in Skorringe, Maribo, Denmark on the 9th of November, 1841. To them were born four children: James, Emma, William, Chancey. They married in 1861, and she died sometime around 1870.

After Sophie's death, James married Ann Clifton in 1872. Ann was born on October 9, 1849 in London England, and was the daughter of Robert Clifton and Mary Blanchard.. Together, James and Ann had nine children: Hannah, Esther, Mary, Sophia (Pearl), Sarah, Robert, Enos Clifton, Ira, and Henry.

According to one of James' sons, "James and his brothers took part in the building of the west but, because no one took the time to write it down and have it recorded in the history of Utah there is very little to be found concerning them."

James owned the first meat market in Murray, Utah. He was Deputy Sheriff of Salt Lake County. He, along with his father and some of his brothers, worked for Brigham Young. Brigham Young sold them sawmills, and they paid for the mills by furnishing Brigham Young with lumber to build his homes. Two of the homes still stand on South Temple Street in Salt Lake City: the Lion House and the Beehive House. The Maxfields also selected the lumber for the Tabernacle, the Salt Lake Theater, and many other buildings in Salt Lake City and the surrounding area.

James' brother Rich Maxfield owned two sawmills, and his brother Robert owned one. James owned one in Tooele. Later, James bought one in Big Cottonwood Canyon. James and his brothers were all great horsemen. John and Elijah Maxfield were "the wild horse breakers." According to one of James' sons, James and his brothers "were all brave, fearless men."
James' brother Elijah Maxfield drove a stage coach between Salt Lake City and Council Bluffs. James made several trips with him. They could both speak "the Indian Language." Years later, James used to "trot" his children on his knee and sing them Indian chants.

When the Salt Lake City temple was being built, James and his brothers hauled granite from the quarry in Little Cottonwood Canyon to the temple block. It took four or six oxen to pull the heavy load. Sometimes the huge rock was loaded on timbers placed on the running gears of the wagons, but generally it was on a specially provided bed swing about a foot below the axles, and fastened to the wagon with iron rods. The teamsters liked to have James along because he was a blacksmith and could shoe the horses and oxen, if need be. He could also repair the wagons when the rims came off from the wheels or the axles broke. He made his own forge, anvil and bellows. Oxen were a little different to shoe than horses, because they have a cloven foot and each toe has to have a shoe. Eight shoes per ox make for a lot of work!

James and Ann's daughter, Edith, was friends with George Baxter, whose family moved to Indian Valley, Idaho in October, 1889. A year later, James and Ann decided to move their young and growing family to Idaho. 

As the Baxters were headed home from Sunday meetings one rainy afternoon, they neared a grove of trees by a bridge, where they saw a group of people trying to make camp--men, women and children. The Baxters felt sorry for the people and approached the group to see if they could help. To the Baxters' surprise, it was James Maxfield and his family, twelve people in all.
James' wife, Ann, was ill with a very bad cold, so the Baxters had the Maxfields hitch up their teams to the wagons and drive to the Baxters' home, a log house with two "nice sized" rooms and a lean-to kitchen, with two more rooms upstairs. Although eight Baxters were already living in the home, they made room for the Maxfields. As soon as the Maxfields arrived, Mrs. Baxter had Ann in a comfortable bed and was giving her the best of care. The Maxfields set up their tents in the Baxters' yard.
James' oldest daughter Emma had passed away in 1896, so James and Ann were caring for her three little boys. Pearl, the oldest daughter of James and Ann, had married and she, with her husband and baby, were also in the group of twelve. Most of the Maxfields suffered from smallpox on the journey from Utah to Idaho, so they had "many worries."
In spite of all the care given her, Ann developed pneumonia and passed away a week later in the Baxters' home. The saddened family decided to return to Utah to bury her, and stayed there for three more years until James passed away in October 1903.
Mary Baxter remembered how tiny and ill Ann seemed in the big bed in the Baxter home, and how tall and large James seemed standing next to her. (Mary eventually married James' and Ann's son Ira on October 7, 1909. George Baxter returned with the Maxfields to Utah and married Edith Maxfield on June 26, 1901.)
James' older brother, Richard "Rich" Maxfield, is the great-great-great-great-great grandfather of my children.


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