He was born in Montgomery County, Ohio, on January 4, 1814, and being the youngest of a family of twelve children, he was reared as an agriculturist, mechanic and merchant. His early scholastic training was obtained in the old subscription schools, and although he did not receive the golden opportunities of the present generation, he cheerfully accepted every privilege that presented itself for the improvement of his intellectual faculties. He commenced earning his own living at the early age of fourteen years. From his native State he first emigrated to La Fayette, Indiana, thence to Story County, Iowa, in 1856. Mr. Maxwell went by stage across the State from Davenport to Des Moines, and walked across the country from the latter place to Story County. He was elected the first county superintendent of schools in Story County, but also followed the occupation of a land surveyor. He always supported the men and measures of the Republican Party and during the late Rebellion filled the position of provost-marshal in Story County. He soon became well known throughout this region for his broad intelligence and liberal and progressive ideas, as well as for his sterling integrity, and the people showed the correctness of their judgment by electing him to represent them in Congress during the years 1863 to 1870. He was one of the prime movers in causing the State Agricultural College to be erected at Ames, and was very vigorous and persevering in pushing to perfection this grand and noble institution of erudition, which cost the State many thousands of dollars, and of which it may justly be proud. This important factor in the education of the masses is an institution which gives the students a full scientific or classical education. While a member of Congress, Mr. Maxwell was also the originator of the bill making it a law that farmers and owners of estates, or farms, who have partition fences, are compelled to keep up their part of the fence, and this law has proved a great blessing to the agriculturists of the State. Mr. Maxwell served two terms as state representative, 1864-66, and one term as State Senator, 1872-74. He was married three times, but his union to Miss Caroline Ingersoll took place in 1858, He was remarried to Miss Lizzie Hall, a native of Iowa. Mr. Maxwell was a successful man of business, and with his sons built up a splendid practice throughout Story County, and especially in the vicinity of Cambridge. He was, as was his wife, a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.